Open-access content Monday 25th October 2010
Valerie Everitt’s role in revamping the BIFM’s qualifications structure will provide a lasting legacy for FM. The industry impact award winner reflects on her achievement.
Winner: Valerie Everitt
By Cathy Hayward
28 October 2010
The Overall FM Industry Impact category recognises an individual who has had the most significant and positive impact on the facilities management profession over their career to date. The award is given under the direction of the BIFM board, which this year recognises Valerie Everitt for her outstanding contribution to the FM qualifications landscape over her 14 years with the institute.
Valerie joined the BIFM in 1996 and steered the development of the original BIFM qualifications and the underpinning competencies. She managed the three routes to qualification, oversaw the introduction of the new exam syllabus in 1999 and accreditation of higher education courses.
This year saw the introduction of new BIFM qualifications to replace the old Part I and Part II examinations. Everitt, the BIFM’s professional standards and education director for the past six years and head of education before that, masterminded the four-year journey to the new qualifications landscape. “This long journey has been a really interesting and exciting one,” she says. “Developing the qualifications is central to the BIFM’s mission of advancing the FM profession, professionalising FM and developing career and progression pathways.”
The decision to embark on the expedition was taken back in 2006 when the institute decided to review its existing qualifications. There were a number of drivers, says Everitt, including the 2006 Leitch Report (which recommended that UK should urgently and dramatically raise achievements at all levels of skills) and feedback from employers and members. After garnering the views of key stakeholders, the decision was taken to refresh the syllabus and to make it more accessible and flexible in order to respond to the needs of the FM sector.
Everitt says that the institute never wanted to do everything. “One big part of the strategy was to say ‘we don’t have all the answers and the BIFM is not going to be the provider of qualifications at all levels’.” Everitt points to the introductory level qualification (QCF level 3 on the scale where 1 is equivalent to NVQ 1 or one GCSEs at grade D and below, and 8 to a doctorate) as an example of an area where there wasn’t a good fit for what the BIFM could offer.
This was due to the fact that it was slightly outside the main level of institute members and before BIFM’s recognition as an Awarding Organisation. The solution was a strategic partnership with the Institute for Leadership and Management which was signed in June 2007. Everitt describes it as a “seminal moment” in the qualifications journey.
Everitt worked with an employer group, made up of between 15-20 client side and supply side organisations from across the public and private sectors, to design the architecture of the new qualifications.
Onwards and upwards
More than 100 learners have registered for the new qualifications, with around 50 unit certificates awarded to date. The aim, says Everitt, is exponential growth over the coming years. There are now six centres which deliver the new qualifications, with another six in the pipeline.
But Everitt is typically modest about her role in the new qualifications structure, attributing much of the success to her team at BIFM head office and those that volunteered in the employers’ group, committees and wider membership.
“This award is a great honour for me personally but also an award for the success of the new qualifications and the value they bring to individuals and organisations. And this is just the beginning.”
Qualifications and training
Level 7 Diploma in Executive Coaching and Mentoring (ILM); Certificate in Life Coaching (Newcastle College); Postgraduate Diploma in Teaching English as a Foreign Language (RSA); BA (Hons.) English Language, Literature and Philosophy (University of Birmingham)
January 2004 – 2010: director of professional standards and education (PS&E) – BIFM
1996 – 2003, head of education, BIFM
Prior to joining the BIFM, Everitt spent 20 years working in the Teaching English as a Foreign Language sector