Open-access content 3rd July 2012
Jason Gurd explains how important FM qualifications are, and how they are less subjective than experience.
17 May 2012
When people ask me if I've got plans for the weekend, my response over the past few months has often been: "I'll be doing my homework". "You must be mad!" they say, but I don't think I am: I'm investing for the future.
I'm currently studying for my BIFM Level 4 qualifications in facilities management and, let me be honest with you, it's not easy. By the time I've submitted enough written assignments to amass the 48 credits I need to qualify for the diploma level, I'll have effectively written a short (but not very good) book about FM.
Like most FMs, I work a very full week. So it isn't surprising that other people (including other facilities people) think I must have a few screws loose to spend my free time doing homework. So why do I? As a facilities professional, I always try and look at things strategically and, in the wider scheme of things, I believe that the qualifications will serve me far better than painting the spare room.
Some fellow facilities professionals are sceptical. Facilities, they point out, has always been an industry where personal skill, experience and aptitude count for everything and you can't learn these things from a book. In some ways they're right, but they're also wrong: FM is changing.
Facilities management has only been around as a recognised profession for a couple of decades. Effectively, it's still new. The pioneers of FM (many of whom are now our senior colleagues) had to rely on their experience and aptitude because there was nothing else - they were inventing it from scratch. Things are different now: our profession is established and today's challenge is to improve the way it is perceived. Qualifications are a vital strategy.
Like it or not, qualifications imply professionalism and they are far less subjective than experience. They reassure employers (and colleagues) that an individual is capable of meeting or exceeding a given standard: that they understand best practice and know what needs to be done to comply with legislation. In many industries (HR, IT, finance), qualifications are standard issue.
In recruitment terms, the role of facilities manager is unusual. Most organisations have only one FM. This means that FMs are not always recruited by those with the necessary facilities know-how to judge the value of their experiences. Employers are starting to look to the BIFM's qualifications structure to guide them.
Facilities management is changing and the expectations, skills and knowledge requirements
In tomorrow's FM, the choicest positions, the most interesting assignments and the most prestigious roles will be filled by those who can underscore their skills, experience and aptitude with the qualifications that employers are asking for.
That has to be worth a few weekends of anyone's time.
Jason Gurd is a facilities manager, blogger, and a member of the Home Counties Region Committee.