Open-access content Friday 13th July 2012
Linda Hausmanis discusses the importance and the benefits of degree level apprenticeships in the industry.
19 July 2012
Degree level apprenticeships provide one of the solutions to the facilities management succession-planning dilemma.
Over £1 million in government funding was secured at the end of 2011 to support the development of higher level apprenticeships in FM. These apprenticeships will provide a gateway into the profession for fresh talent straight out of school, as well as providing an opportunity for existing employees in FM who are seeking to acquire recognised qualifications.
Apprenticeships are already popular with business. A recent survey by EAL, the awarding organisation for the engineering sector, found that more than 70 per cent of employers feel that apprenticeships are at least of equal value to a university degree to help people to prepare for and progress in the workplace.
Over a quarter said they are more relevant.
A common employer complaint is that university graduates are unprepared for the practicalities of the workplace having only focused on the theory. Higher level apprenticeships will bridge that gap, covering theory and practice in equal measure.
The initiative, led by Asset Skills, the sector skills council for FM, in partnership with the BIFM and several educational institutions and training centres will provide qualifications from levels four to six, equivalent to HNC to degree level qualifications. Organisations from across the public and private sectors have been invited to participate in the development, including HM Prison Service, Babcock International, Sodexo and Compass Group.
With the first 60 students starting in September 2012 and a further 150 coming on stream in March 2013, the partners are already mid-way through the development of the apprenticeships' framework. Having this clearly-defined structure can only benefit both employer and apprentice and is recognition of the dual responsibility of both parties.
Employers get a check-box method for offering the necessary support and experiences to their apprentices, while apprentices know exactly what is expected of them in order to do their jobs and fulfil their employer's expectations.
The initiative will also promote facilities management as a career of choice. People have traditionally fallen into the profession, but with the input of schools and colleges and the Asset Skills Career Guide to FM, school leavers will learn that an apprenticeship in FM is a gateway to a rewarding, varied career with significant room for growth. Not all school leavers with these aspirations want to go to university, especially given the rising costs. But often they are dissuaded by the overly practical nature of other apprenticeships.
The higher level apprenticeship will bridge the gap between learning and doing and so leave students well equipped to become the next generation of managers.
FM is one of the industries being supported because it is integral to the economy and business and offers a world of opportunity for school leavers.
Linda Hausmanis is head of awarding organisation at the BIFM.