Facilities management has historically been male dominated, with an older demographic who have typically worked their way up through the ranks. It was not necessarily a career choice back-up by formal education, but rather people started on reception, or security, or another front of house role.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with this route, but in recent years there has been an evident demographic shift within the industry, as well as other entrant routes emerging.
The current research shows that the male/female split in FM roles is closer to 50/50, and routes into the sector are becoming diversified with many more coming straight in from university. These changes in themselves are helping to wear down some of the well-known stereotypes. These shifts are recent but the evidence is that industry changes are slowly but surely taking hold. In 2015, 6% of respondents said that they had been in the industry for less than 2 years, this is in comparison to just 3% in 2014. As younger FM professionals come into the industry, the number of professionals with in excess of 20 years’ service dropped from 20% to 18% in the same timeframe.
A diverse workforce within any industry is healthy for innovation, business dynamics, and to support strategic change. So how can younger people be attracted into the industry? First and foremost, there needs to be clear education in school/college about what the career actually involves. Additionally, it would be advantageous to have apprenticeships specifically focussed on FM as it lends itself well to hands on learning.
There is a current call for this made by the BIFM who have joined forces with a number of employers to develop an FM apprenticeship. The new apprenticeship being designed for FM supervisors aims to equip the apprentice to manage an FM service, or group of services.
The University of Lancashire offers a BSc in Facilities Management where they teach students how workplaces are constructed and managed, as well as the legal and economic constraints impacting the built environment. The University also noted the ever expanding role of the Facilities Manager, who must also take responsibility for environmental and sustainability issues. The good thing about this course is that it offers students the opportunity to spend time in industry and get some real hands on experience.
There are many saturated industries, such as law and accountancy, where there are too many graduates for the number of roles. This leads to frustration from candidates who are unable to enter the career they are educated for. Students do need to think carefully about which industries can provide them with a stable career that has a range of potential opportunities for growth.
I would urge individuals who are picking their courses for university, or those starting or shifting careers, to consider facilities management. It offers a varied number of different roles, and there is very clear opportunity for talented individuals who come into the sector.
Peter Forshaw, Managing Director – Maxwell Stephens
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