12 March 2015
Although I have written Comment columns before, this is my first in my new role as director of education and firstly, may I thank the many hundreds of you who have congratulated me on the role - it has been an honour to work with the FM industry over the past eight years and I look forward to a new era.
I was asked to comment on what I plan to do in this role. The first thing I will do is draw breath, stand still for a moment to peruse the landscape that is the FM industry and engage with it in the development of a new BIFM Educational Strategy for the next five years.
Much has changed in the eight years since I joined BIFM. We now have FM Professional Standards, there are career development pathways, and there is a choice of regulated qualifications for everyone no matter what stage of his/her career. Apprenticeships have been launched and are currently undergoing intense re-engineering, which will create a new phase of apprenticeships for FM.
But one of the objectives for BIFM will be to develop an enhanced educational proposition that will transform individuals from being 'obstacles' to being 'enablers'.
What do I mean? Well, judging by the latest findings at the recent Workplace Futures conference it would appear that we, as individuals, are not performing at our best. Worse still, we may not even possess the skills employers need in order to maximise on the current opportunities that will lead to an improved economic environment. Therefore the 'obstacle' - and this is the biggest barrier faced by organisations - is a shortage of skilled staff. This sentiment is not just felt in the facilities management industry; much has been heralded over the past few years about the skills shortage (The Leitch Review Of Skills, 2006, McKinsey's Education To Employment: Designing A System That Works, and The Skills Crunch - Upskilling The Workforce Of The Future, The Prince's Trust/HSBC). So the question must be asked of organisations as well as individuals - "What are you going to do about it?"
What is it about our human conditioning that prevents some of us from 'being the best' and to not aspiring to want to 'be the best'? There needs to be a cultural shift.
Firstly, organisations, when developing staff, need to see this as an investment and not purely a cost. It cannot continue to be said by firms, "Why spend the money on training someone, after all, they may leave" because we all know the counter-argument to that is, "What if you don't develop them and they stay?"
Secondly, during my travels last year I found a marked difference in attitude between the people I spoke to both in the UK and overseas. In the UK I will often be asked, "Why the need to undertake a programme of development?" whereas in overseas countries I am more likely to be asked, "How do I embark on a programme of learning?"
So are you a "why" person or a "how" person? Each is just a three-lettered word, but what a difference it makes.