Changing Landscape – How an increase of graduates in FM may affect the profession.
Peter Forshaw, Managing Director at Maxwell Stephens, was recently approached by facilitate magazine to give his views on research which suggests that an increasing number of graduates and young professionals are choosing a career in Facilities Management, and to discuss how this could potentially affect the profession. Here is what Peter had to say…
- In what ways is the increase in people entering the profession directly from school, college or university impacting the profession? What are we gaining or losing from this?
One of the key differences we see is the change in the ‘public image’ of Facilities Management. The influx of younger professionals seems to have modernised the more “traditional” view of the Facilities Manager, bringing them out of the back office and into the open. This in turn seems to have improved the perception of FM as a viable career path for younger professionals which can only be a good thing.
- Regarding the above, how has this impacted the role of the senior workplace or facilities management professional?
It seems that this shift towards a younger demographic within the FM industry has gone hand in hand with the ever-increasing part that technology plays in the world of FM. The likes of millennials and generation X has been brought up with technology, giving them an inherent digital literacy that may not be present in older professionals. This has meant that senior professionals have had to work hard to upskill and develop their knowledge in order to stay on top of a rapidly evolving sector and remain competitive.
- To what extent is on-the-job training required to ensure these professionals are equipped to deal with the role?
The improvement and increased availability of qualifications is obviously a huge leg up for new climbers on the FM ladder, however we feel that there are many facets to Facilities Management that cannot be taught academically. Persuading stakeholders, dealing with tenant disputes, diplomatic problem solving, adaptability, these are not things that can be revised from a textbook. Apprenticeships go a long way to bridging this gap between academic and real-life education, with this route providing the background knowledge as well as helping to develop the personal qualities needed to succeed in FM.
- How much has formal university-based FM qualifications helped the profession?
Professional qualifications have gone a long way to “professionalising” the industry as a whole. In years past, many FMs got into the industry almost by accident it seems, either by “falling into the position” or by their positions simply evolving over time until they became a fully-fledged Facilities Manager. The expansion of professional qualifications seems to have carved out a much clearer route into a much more credible profession. With increases in FM Apprenticeships and University based qualifications, the idea of Facilities Management being a viable and successful career path is becoming much more widespread within the young professional demographic.
- How common is it for employers to opt for a professional with an FM-specific university degree? How will this change over time?
We find that degree level qualifications are becoming more sought after when reaching the senior end of the FM spectrum. This demand for formal degree level qualifications may impact some FM professionals more than others. For older professionals at the senior end of the market, the thought of going back to university to learn something they have been doing for the past 25 years may seem redundant, however it is becoming a desirable criteria, and in some cases a prerequisite, to gain entry into more senior positions.