23 September 2015 | Tanya Horscroft
News reports continue to indicate that the UK is experiencing a skills shortage, with a recent PwC survey stating that almost two-thirds of UK business leaders believe that a lack of employees with key skills is hampering their firms' growth prospects.
Most individuals and organisations assume that additional training, simplifying jobs, or recruiting in the skills will overcome the issue.
Sure, there are some skills that can only be acquired (and validated) through structured training and learning. But there are many other skills that can be learned 'on the job', and volunteering offers the perfect opportunity for individuals to develop a new skill while making a meaningful contribution.
I've had the privilege of being awarded both the BIFM 'Special Interest Group Volunteer of the Year', and the overall 'Volunteer of the Year' this year. I put a lot of time and effort in to my roles throughout the year, but I do it because of the people I get to spend time with (and learn from), the skills I get to acquire along the way (networking, communication, event planning), and the experiences I get to be a part of (events, discussion groups). People that I've worked with on Special Interest Groups (SIGs) have now become my personal mentors/coaches, an added bonus of volunteering.
With 13 SIGs and 10 regions helping to keep BIFM running smoothly, there are plenty of opportunities to get involved. I'd highly recommend this to people who are looking to push their boundaries, or to extend their network. Even better, if you have a specialist discipline or a unique job role, come along and share your knowledge and experience with members.
It may not expand their skill enough to become proficient in your discipline, but it would certainly help to raise awareness, or help inspire someone to become a specialist themselves.
Volunteering outside of the industry broadens horizons and skill sets even further. I have previously volunteered for a local charity as a 'befriender', going to visit a housebound 91-year-old once a week just for a chat. It was a pleasure to hear about her life and to see what a difference that visit made to her, all for just one hour of my week. While this didn't help me gain any business skills, it definitely helped with developing my people skills, and how to cope in emotionally charged situations. I also joined the board of my local volunteer centre to gain insight into director-level business management, certainly something that easily translated back into my day-to-day, but not something I would usually have exposure to in my job role.
I'd like to end this article with one of my favourite quotes, hoping that it gives individuals and organisations food for thought "Volunteers are not paid - not because they are worthless, but because they are priceless."
To learn more about volunteering at BIFM contact the membership team on
[email protected] or call +44(0)1279 712 650
Tanya Horscroft (née Brick) is facilities manager for Capita Property & Infrastructure, and Deputy Chair of BIFM's Women in FM SIG