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Focus on Skills: Why apprenticeships are the future for business

The need for specific employable skills in the workplace is essential. Attracting and acquiring new talent to all industries is a competitive field, with more students leaving school and attending university than ever before.

However, for growing businesses, the benefits of apprentices are becoming apparent. The ability to train your staff and integrate them into a working culture has its obvious advantages. But the reasons for creating on-the-job training courses for new talent are increasing every day. Here we look at how businesses are benefiting from apprentices, and how they can grow in the future.

Growing skills and businesses

Apprenticeships are one of the best opportunities for young people to learn valuable workplace-related skills. Where once the idea of apprenticeships was saturated by jobs in sectors such as engineering, construction, and care, a growing number of courses now compete with higher-level education and degree level careers.

The Government introduced an apprenticeships levy in 2017, forcing businesses with payrolls of over £3 million to reserve five per cent of wage costs for training in the workplace. The levy was expected to create 3 million more apprenticeships in the UK by 2020. It is essential for large businesses to generate high skilled employees from apprenticeships.

This is demonstrated by the growth of high-level apprenticeships over the past five years. A level seven apprenticeship is considered equivalent to a post-graduate course. A 2019 report found that only 30 people enrolled at this level in 2015, compared to 4,500 people in 2017 when the levy was introduced.

The growing number of high-level apprenticeships is reflected in the variety of roles available to those who want to learn in a workplace. Some examples include apprenticeships in aerospace engineering with the MOD, digital marketing, and as a police constable. UCAS advertises apprenticeships that pay £30,000 a year, over 25 per cent more than the average graduate salary in the UK.

A day in the life

Apprenticeships are not just an alternative to further or even higher education. Courses often contain useful skills that act as introductory workshop into specific sectors.

Grace started an apprenticeship in digital marketing in July 2019 with Mobile Mini, a storage container provider and rental service. She explains why an apprenticeship course appealed to her: “I chose to do this rather than going to university because I wanted to continue in education at the same time as learning on the job.”

For Grace, being able to work while earning had obvious advantages. But most importantly, she believes that it will benefit her career in the long run. She continued: “An apprenticeship really prepares you for the world of work, as you are not only continuing education, you are also gaining so much valuable experience of a real workplace.”

This reflects the growing need for sector-specific skills over generalised, particularly in digital and high skilled roles. For businesses, the prospect of moulding the ideal worker through work and education creates the perfect employee, ingrained within the culture of the company.

Beyond 2020

While apprenticeships are becoming increasingly prevalent in workplaces, the future will depend on them. The World Economic Forum noted that changing technology and business practices will mean that up to 42 per cent of skill requirements will change by 2022. Consequently, reskilling is becoming not only necessary but difficult to do on a large scale as well.

The turnover of essential skills means that they can only be learnt in the workplace, and often, if practical skills are taught in higher education, there is an expectation that they will be redundant by the time a student enters the workplace.

Only through apprenticeships can a business move with the era of accelerated and digital innovation. With young people engrained in a culture of digitisation, they will adapt to changing scenarios and technology. Businesses will compete for talent from a pool of young apprentices. As the number of apprentices increases, opportunities must adapt to meet the needs of an intelligent workforce, where education occurs throughout their working lives.

As apprenticeships become more common and attractive for both students and businesses, are we likely to see a shift in post-school education? With the cost of university becoming an unattractive prospect for young people, will apprenticeship schemes become the best way to prepare people for a working future? Only time will tell, but he benefits are evident.

Sodexo initiative searches for ‘next gen’ FM leaders

Sodexo’s corporate services business has joined forces with HIT Training to launch a development programme tasked with supporting and developing the next generation of FM leaders.

The comp[any says its programme has been created to offer a structured apprenticeship journey for qualifying existing employees and new recruits to complete either a customer service practitioner or customer service specialist apprenticeship.

Both apprenticeships are 18-month courses and include an IWFM accredited facilities services qualification, level 2 certificate for practitioner apprentices and level 3 certification for the customer service specialist cohort.

Kim Leahy, HR Director, Corporate Services, Sodexo UK & Ireland said: “This new development programme is a really important part of our people strategy. We are committed to supporting and developing the next generation of leaders for our business.

“To achieve this, we truly believe customer service skills are crucial in the delivery of workplace experience and consumer driven FM.”

The aim of the Futures programme is to provide employees with the right skills, capability and attitude to deliver facilities management focused on people and experiences, rather than buildings and services. Each participant on the Futures programme will be employed in a permanent role with Sodexo with the programme comprising mainly on-the-job training, with around 20% of the learning completed off-site.

On completion of the programme the graduates will be able to build their career within Sodexo and using the skills acquired from the course will act as a customer service specialist within their team. They will gather and analyse data and customer insight in order to drive innovation and deliver more strategic, employee-focused partnerships. 

Leahy added: “We acknowledge that to succeed we need to give people the right skills and attributes to deliver against our clients’ needs now and into the future.

“We are really looking forward to welcoming our first cohort of participants and see this new programme as a way we can help them kick-start a long and rewarding career at Sodexo.”

As part of its wider Public Service Pledge Sodexo says it’s committed to engage 850 apprentices every year.

The value of apprentices in construction

Industry experts have raised concern that the construction industry is experiencing a shortage of skilled workers, with City & Guilds revealing that 87% of employers last year were already finding it difficult to recruit the skilled workers that they need.

According to Construction News, official figures show that 12.6% of UK construction workers come from overseas, with 5.7% originating from the EU. This rises to a staggering 60% in London. Furthermore, 30% of British-born construction workers are now over the age of 50, meaning businesses will feel the pinch of those departing over the coming years through retirement when Brexit comes into play.

However, some experts believe that apprentices could be the key. Apprenticeships could be more crucial than ever before, especially following Brexit. Nation Apprenticeship Week was at the beginning of March, and with an influx of publicity circulating, it has encouraged employers to think about the future of their workforces — could apprentices fill the employee shortage? 

Niftylift, retailers of cherry pickers, investigates further. 

Engineering and Manufacturing, and Construction, Planning and the Built Environment are within the top five sectors for apprenticeship starts. In the 2016/17 academic year, the Engineering and Manufacturing sector witnessed 74,000 starts, while the Construction sector had 21,000. Leading UK housebuilder, Redrow, released its second annual research report which revealed that, thanks to a positive shift in attitudes and the perception of construction, the apprenticeship pathway has improved, with a 14% increase in young people considering a career in the sector. 

Speaking on the report, Karen Jones, Group HR Director at Redrow, said: “This year’s results illustrate that apprenticeships and careers in construction are being viewed in a more positive light. 

“Apprenticeships are a way of futureproofing the UK workforce, particularly in sectors where there is a skills shortage, such as construction, so it is pleasing to see that progress is being made.”

Thanks to the new apprenticeship levy introduced last year, success for apprenticeships is expected to continue as the levy brings with it a new way of funding apprenticeship programmes. Whilst some employers have snubbed the new levy as just being ‘another tax’, both large and small employers can benefit from the fund, meaning that 90% of apprenticeship training costs are funded by the government. Furthermore, employers within the construction sector can use up to 10% of the funding to train employees across the full supply chain — something not to be snubbed with the current shortage in skilled workers. 

According to UK Construction Media, apprenticeships are delivering the goods — as a huge 86% of employers say that apprenticeships are helping them develop skills relevant to their organisation, and 78% believe they help improve productivity. 

Furthermore, Chris Wood, CEO of Develop Training, is confident that apprenticeship programmes are working: “Working with some of the UK’s largest utility firms, our success rates have been very high. We and our customers have no doubt that, managed well, apprenticeships do work.”

He added: “New initiatives such as Trailblazer Apprenticeships and the Apprenticeship Levy have raised awareness across the UK. Even so, and despite huge skills shortages, manyemployers are still only scratching the surface of what they could be doing to use apprenticeships to attract new people to join the industry and improve the skills of existing employees.”

Looking towards the future, apprenticeships could hold the key to success and fulfilling the demand in the construction industry. Downing Street has committed itself to creating three million new apprenticeships by 2020. The construction industry could be on the receiving end of a large chunk of those programmes, which will be an opportunity to deliver a new generation of highly skilled workers — something that the industry is experiencing a lack of right now. In fact, the Director of the National Apprentice Service, Sue Husband, predicts that 2018 will be crucial for programmes. As more opportunities become available, now could be the time to cut yourself a slice of the apprenticeship programme success — and secure your future workforce now.


How we can entice young talent into the FM industry?

By Chris Townsend, HR Director, ABM UK

In the facilities management industry, the UK is suffering from a general skills shortage. Young people are typically not considering this industry as a career path creating a skills gap.

Therefore, it is right that we look to apprenticeships as a possible solution to this problem and highlight the important role they play in bridging this gap.

Open career opportunities that call for individuals with engineering skills far outnumber the supply of applicants. The facilities management industry needs people who are open to related careers, to be aware of all the opportunities that this industry is offering them. 

Whether these people are students coming from college, after university or later on in their lives, apprenticeships provide a secure route to upskilling and career progression.

At ABM UK, there are apprenticeship programmes dedicated to security, plumbing, cleaning, gas and engineering. These apprenticeships enable people to develop new skills as well as giving people a great start to working life. In all, there are 10 different courses and our apprentices not only earn while they learn, but have the option to work in a variety of disciplines within facilities services, management, which goes up to degree level and engineering. 

Education and awareness are the equivalent to condition monitoring and predictive maintenance when looking at diversity and the skills gap. By engaging children that are still early in their education we are introducing them to the possibilities of the facilities management industry, this is filling the pipeline of future apprentices. We are also ensuring there is a diversity of backgrounds in our people that will make our business and profession continue successfully. 

At ABM UK we want a pipeline of talented young people who aspire to have a career in facilities management. The individuals in this pipeline will be excited by its potential and would not accept a role in this industry as a back-up if their other career plans didn’t quite work out. We want to make apprenticeships an active career choice, and not a back-up plan. 

So what are we doing to make this happen? We are showing that the industry is about more than oily rags and blue overalls.

Firstly, we invested heavily in setting up our own training centre to ensure apprenticeships and training are at the heart of our business.

In 2018, ABM UK piloted the first ever Junior Engineering Engagement Programme (J.E.E.P) which aims to tackle the perceptions of engineering and facilities management amongst secondary school aged children and their parents. The course of 10 modules, including experiments in conduction, magnets and motors, gives the students an insight into the world of facilities management and apprenticeships. Something they may have never heard of before. When these children leave school, they will be better informed of their choices and may well consider an apprenticeship in this field, and we’re very proud of the extensive range we offer.

And, we’re using our current apprentices as role models and ambassadors. It’s important that young children see people that they can relate to doing really well in these areas, acting as motivation for them to continue to be engaged in the programme.

Take ABM UK former apprentice, Marissa Francis as an example, and an inspiration. She chose the university route, but soon realised it wasn’t for her and chose a different direction – an apprenticeship.

Despite losing her mum and being responsible for bringing up her four-year-old daughter single-handedly, she graduated from ABM UK’s apprenticeship scheme and is now a qualified expert in heating, ventilation and air conditioning. 

We are so proud of everything she has achieved and we’re all delighted that she was named ‘Apprentice of the Year’ in 2017 at the industry’s Heating and Ventilation News Awards.

Alongside the J.E.E.P initiative, as part of our grass roots work, we conducted a piece of research[1] which looked at the perceptions of apprenticeships in this industry amongst 2,000 parents and 2,000 young people aged 11 – 15. A lot of what we found illustrated the perception change work that needs to be done – for example, we found that over a third of parents don’t know what an apprenticeship is. Statistics like this need to be changed. The research also found that a third[2] of parents see apprenticeships as a last resort for young people who fail exams.

The research also found the top reasons that parents were not encouraging their child to undertake an apprenticeship. Almost half thought apprenticeships were poorly paid (43%), because they see it as a last resort for those who fail their exams (37%), and a perception that apprenticeships don’t lead to successful careers (17%). Those with experience or working in apprenticeships know that this is not the case. In reality, recruits in this sector are in such high demand that graduate apprentices are earning between £26,000 and £30,000 just a year after qualifying – usually before they’re 20 years old – and they have no debt. 

Initiatives like the J.E.E.P show students at a young age what they are capable of academically. Sometimes we excel at physical tasks rather than sitting in a lecture hall. Showing students the benefits of an apprenticeship could make a massive difference to their life and career path.

Following the introduction of the Apprenticeship Levy in 2017, businesses are coming together no matter what industry, towards the same goal which is to educate the youth through apprenticeships. There is no question that this means the future is looking bright for apprenticeships in the UK, however, it is clear from the research ABM UK conducted that the perceptions around apprenticeships still need to change.

[1] Commissioned by ABM UK and conducted by Censuswide the research comprises 2,000 British parents of children aged 11 to 16 and 2,000 children aged 11 to 16 in April 2018. 

[2] 36%

Utilities and construction apprenticeships ‘the answer to falling university applications’

Apprenticeships can meet many of the challenges thrown up by falling university numbers, according to DTL.

While many commentators have blamed high tuition fees for a growing number of young people choosing not to apply for university, in turn raising fears of a lack of social mobility, DTL points out that school leavers give other reasons too, including that they don’t enjoy studying or don’t think they have the necessary academic skills for university.

The training company says that apprenticeships have the capability, not just to provide an alternative to university, but also to address the wider issues.

Operations Director, John Kerr, said: “Instead of racking up student debt, apprentices earn while they learn, and apprenticeships provide other ways of learning for those who aren’t suited to academia. At DTL, we specialise in practical training for high earning roles in utilities and construction. Yes, there is an element of classroom learning, but for most of our apprenticeships, the focus is on learning through well-supervised, genuine on-the-job experience.”

Kerr says that apprenticeships can also generate social mobility, beyond what might be expected from gaining a practical qualification and a well-paid job.

He explained: “As an organisation that believes in providing a holistic educational experience, we support many young people who have fallen behind with academic learning.”

Crucially, he points out, that includes ensuring that apprentices attain satisfactory levels of literacy and numeracy.

Ensuring students attain a set level of literacy and numeracy is a requirement made of apprenticeship providers by the educational watchdog Ofsted, and DTL says it has invested in technology and teaching to ensure that apprentices reach the levels they need, not just to attain their qualification but also to equip them for life.

“Clearly, people who have poor literacy or numeracy, or both, are going to be disadvantaged,” said Kerr. “This is a significant step in giving them social mobility.”

With these crucial core skills and the confidence of having completed an apprenticeship, they might well go on to get a university degree or similar-level qualification, he added.

“For us at DTL, this is much more than a question of meeting the requirements of the regulator. You can see this in our response to another Ofsted instruction. We have pioneered the introduction of safeguarding, ensuring that young people are safe in the workplace and the training environment.”

DTL’s latest Industry Skills Forum on the subject brought together leading figures in HR in the utilities and construction sector, to discuss safeguarding and the government’s Prevent initiative, which requires education providers to play their part in ensuring young people aren’t recruited into extremism.

As an approved provider under the apprenticeship levy scheme, DTL says its customers expect it to deliver well-trained individuals, capable of carrying out their roles effectively and safely. This is particularly important when those roles are often in potentially hazardous environments in the gas, electricity, water and construction industries.

Kerr said: “Our first duty is to the apprentices themselves, and we believe that ensuring their safety is paramount. By also ensuring they have those core literacy and numeracy skills, we add value to the opportunities created by their apprenticeship.”

Praise for Government approach to technical careers

A speech by the Education Secretary, in which plans were set out to help more people into skilled areas of employment, along with a warning to leave ‘snobby’ attitudes to technical careers behind post-Brexit, has been met with approval by ABM UK.

The company, which launched the UK’s first Junior Engineering Engagement Programme, has called for UCAS equivalents for apprenticeships, with recent research suggesting that a gender barrier has been crossed in engineering and facilities management sectors.

Discussing the plans and speech, Adam Baker, Director, ABM UK said: “The work being done to encourage more young people into engineering is much needed and very welcome. Bringing parity to T Levels and A Levels is a strong step in the right direction, and will help to profile technical careers in their true light; life-long, lucrative and fulfilling, often coupled with high-level training.

“There are some signs of improvement. For example, recent research which we commissioned on the perception of technical careers revealed that just 16 per cent of young people considered technical roles to be ‘for boys’. With 89 per cent of the UK’s current engineering workforce being male, this is promising! It means that for the vast majority of young people, a gender barrier has been crossed, and that the workforce across technical industries in the future will look incredibly different to what it does today.

“As a next step, we’d like to see a similar offering to that of UCAS but for apprenticeships; a system that truly profiles all pathways available to young people. This is vital if we’re to close skills gaps and boost industry in the UK.”

Last month, thirty-six school children from West London graduated from the world’s first Junior Engineering Engagement Programme (J.E.E.P), which first started in January 2018 following research which highlighted that sixty  percent of young people were unlikely to consider working in the engineering and facilities management industries.

The programme launches again in 2019 and seeks to change the perception of apprenticeships and technical careers and plug the skills gap in key industries. All graduates receive official commendation from a certified industry body, the Institute of Workplace and Facilities Management (IWFM, formerly BIFM).

Linda Hausmanis, Chief Executive of the IWFM, said: “The Institute of Workplace and Facilities Management (formerly BIFM) is delighted to support ABM UK in this initiative. This graduation marks an important moment for the industry – it’s a step towards making apprenticeships in facilities management a stronger proposition for young people looking at career choices, and compliments IWFM’s work to reposition the FM profession as a career of choice not chance.

“There’s a serious skills gap in the industry, which can only be plugged if we pull together to highlight the fulfilling end careers we can offer. We look forward to next year when the programme aims to engage even more young people in careers in workplace and facilities management.”

CASE STUDY: Changing the face of apprenticeships in FM

ABM UK apprentice, Joseph Goddard, is in his third year as an apprentice and is currently at Manor Walks shopping centre in Cramlington.

He has bags of talent and passion for sustainability and innovation, and so has shaped his remit at the site to include the opening and maintenance of a greenhouse and flowerbed on-site.

This idea has grown substantially since; he’s just pitched an idea to create a biosphere on site which will see him recreating habitats from around the world in order to grow plants not typically seen in the UK e.g. cacti. 

His next step is to make his work a hub for the community and he’s currently reaching out to local schools to bring them on board…

Joseph became an ABM apprentice in April 2017, based at Manor Walks Shopping and Leisure in Northumberland.  

After attending college and completing his AS Level exams in product design, applied science and business studies, Joseph decided he was ready to jump into the workplace. Although he was keen to continue his education, he also wanted to earn money. He discovered the ABM UK apprenticeship scheme and hasn’t looked back since.  

Turning 21 this month, the Cramlington local couldn’t be enjoying his apprenticeship more.  

His short-term goal is still to remain very much education-focused through his studies at college. He has already planned to continue his apprenticeship until he reaches Level 4 in Facilities Services Management but then intends to start working towards a managerial role. He loves being based at Manor Walks because of the diverse nature of the jobRight now, he undertakes a combination of educational subjects in college alongside practical, hands on experience at Manor Walks.  

He says: When I started my apprenticeship I was really comfortable with the college side of things because I was used to it and it’s a well-trodden educational pathway; I could do the academic aspects relatively easily.  

When I was given actual hands on responsibilities in the workplace it was a bit of a shock, albeit good one. It was so different to what I knew. I’m in my second year now and have worked across various parts of the centre and tried my hand at lots of different areas.  

“I can be inside the centre working with the cleaning teams, or doing paperwork such as rotas, timesheets or health and safety records. Equally, I can be outside looking at waste processes; recycling and compressing cardboard are two tasks that I really enjoy because they were the starting point of some pretty amazing projects that I think will be career defining.” 

By getting hands on with the centre’s recycling programme, coupled with environmental modules in college, Joseph is set to lead the development of an impressive biosphere project at Manor Walks. The project will see Joseph create a self-sustainable structure to promote and educate local schools on exotic habitats and what environments are needed to grow rare plants in the UK.  

Joseph continues: “The project I am working on involves growing flowers, fruit and vegetables in two greenhouses onsite. I was working on this with my manager and also the landscaper onsite. Watching everyone bring home fruit and vegetables for their families to enjoy gives me a great sense of pride!  It got me thinking about what else we could do. I asked lots of questions, and over time, started to think about a biosphere project; I developed the idea with my manager and I ran with it.” 

Joseph presented his biosphere project to the centre’s senior management team alongside ABM managers recently, with outstanding success. He’s just had a sign-off to put the idea into practice over the Christmas period and into next year.  

Joseph says: “I presented my idea to the team at Manor Walks, including my boss, the shopping centre manager and other ABM UK senior business people. I was nervous at first, but it was a brilliant experience and it helped to bolster my confidence. 

My ultimate goal is to get schools involved. It’s a brilliant way of taking a tour around the world. What started as an area that piqued my interest has turned into an actual passion point. I never considered for one minute that I would be doing this…It’s not what I expected to be part of my apprenticeship but I love it! It has really opened my eyes on the opportunities an apprenticeship can offer. 

In the long term I want to take my career down a managerial route. With sustainability high on the agenda, I see this project as a great addition to my experience and look forward to next year when I get to realise my idea.”  

FM Industry Report: 36% of parents don’t know what an apprenticeship is

Parents of young people in the UK don’t know what an apprenticeship is, signaling a wider awareness problem which is impacting career choices and creating a skills gaps in key industries. 

The research, conducted by ABM UK, follows news of the T-levels programme and the Apprentice Levy – which aim to present young people with more choices in educational pathways.

However, at the same time reports from the UK government show a decline in new apprentices for March 2018, which are down 28 per cent compared to the same period a year ago.

The research surveyed 2,000 British parents of children aged 11 to 16 and 2,000 children aged 11 to 16.

With 36 per cent of parents of children aged 11 to 16 unsure what an apprenticeship is, it’s no surprise that the majority (68%) of young people don’t know either, despite being at the age that they will start to make decisions about the direction of their career. 

However, Mum and Dad are in the driving seat when it comes to career choices. When asked who or what influences these decisions, Mum and Dad together were number one (66%), followed by teachers and school (41%), the lessons children enjoy (31%) and then friends (14%).  

ABM UK Director Adam Baker said:“We were shocked to find a genuine lack of knowledge on apprenticeships amongst parents, and that many still consider them to be a last resort for children who fail their exams. It shows a need for a more unified approach and a better way of communicating, especially with parents, whose influence alongside teachers is critical. 

“When a young person is set to choose a university, there’s a huge amount of support from schools, parents and educational bodies such as UCAS. We need similar representation for apprenticeships and technical careers to ensure young people in the UK don’t miss out on enriching, lucrative and credible career options. It’s vital we give parents and schools more informationand empower them to show children all the options open to them.

Further findings revealed that for those parents who knew what an apprenticeship was, just 14 per cent considered it to be a good option, with three times as many parents (42%) saying that they wanted their children to attend university, despite crippling tuition fees and long-term debt prospects.  

The top reasons given for not encouraging their child to undertake an apprenticeship were that they were thought to be poorly paid (43%), because they see it as a last resort for those who fail their exams (37%), and that apprenticeships don’t lead to successful careers (17%).

The engineering and facilities management industries are particularly disadvantaged by the awareness gap; 60 per cent of young people said that they were unlikely to even consider working in engineering or facilities management, with over a third (39%) saying that they wouldn’t consider working in this area because they didn’t know anything about it. When asked,just a quarter of parents said they would encourage their children to consider careers in these areas

ABM UK commissioned the research as part of its initiative to attract new talent to the engineering and facilities management industry. In January this year it welcomed 36 West London schoolchildren into the pilot of its first-ever Junior Engineering Engagement Programme (J.E.E.P).

Plans are in place to extend the scheme to further schools from September 2018. The move recognised that, despite government initiatives like the Apprenticeship Levy and the introduction of T-levels, businesses have a responsibility to safeguard the future, too.

Baker added: “Our programme aims to actively recruit new talent into the industry – it’s time to shake off the view that technical careers are about oily rags and no prospects. In reality recruits in this sector are in such high demand that graduate apprentices are earning between £26,000 and £30,000 just a year after qualifying – usually before they’re 20 years old – and they have no debt. 

“This is an issue we need to tackle now. We know that business leaders across the industry acknowledge that shortages of skilled staff will impact the success of their business, making it clear that filling the knowledge gap doesn’t solely sit with the government or parents. It’s everyone’s responsibility – including industry bodies and commercial enterprises – to collaborate in fixing the problem.”

In her role as an advocate of ABM UK’s J.E.E.P programme, Stemettes co-founder and CEO Dr Anne-Marie Imafidon, said: “The report told us that just 16 per cent of young people considered technical roles to be ‘for boys’, but we know that 89 per cent of the UK’s current engineering workforce is male. That means that for 84 per cent of young people, a gender barrier has been crossed and that engineering and facilities management is well positioned to set the standard for better balance in the future. To make this happen we need to leverage the influence that parents and teachers have by giving them the right information.

“University is often publicised as the ‘only’ route but this is not true. Apprenticeships are a fantastic viable alternative, which allows young people to earn while they learn and then, often before they are 20 years of age, have debt-free foundations from which to build a solid, well-paid career. For many, this is the perfect route to a fulfilling and successful career – not enough people know about the breadth and availability of apprenticeships.”

British Institute of Facilities Management CEO Linda Hausmanis said: “We welcome this important research by ABM UK and the excellent J.E.E.P. initiative. The facilities and workplace management industry is currently experiencing a serious skills gap preventing it from reaching its full economic potential. This is a diverse industry with relatively low barriers to entry and yet excellent prospects, supported by a career pathway from entry to executive level.”

“The awareness gap to potential opportunities highlighted by this research evidences a long-suspected need for concerted, early intervention to promote facilities management as a career of choice and its technical education route of entry. BIFM has recently partnered with the Department for Work and Pensions to that end and is seeking further opportunities for collaboration on this important matter to identify and encourage the next generation of facilities management professionals.”

ABM UK has already collaborated with suppliers and clients who see the value in taking action, and the company will be looking at competitors for their involvement as the initiative develops throughout 2018, the Year of The Engineer.  

For full details of the research commissioned by ABM UK, or ABM’s Junior Engineering Engagement Programme (J.E.E.P) visit

ABM UK looks to inspire young talent during National Apprenticeship Week

Facilities firm ABM UK has marked National Apprenticeship Week through its Junior Engineering Engagement Programme (J.E.E.P) and a special day of recognition for its own apprentices.

The J.E.E.P programme’s vision originated from ABM UK’s group managing director, Andy Donnell, who started his career as an apprentice electrician when he was 16-years-old.

Donnell successfully worked his way up the career ladder to oversee the acquisition of Westway Services (now ABM UK) by American services giant, ABM, and now holds the chief role at the award-winning company.

On Wednesday the company hosted a special day for their own apprentices at its training centre in London in order to inspire young talent. Attendees were given the opportunity to speak to the ABM UK leadership team; learn more about the broader industry and company strategy; and get to know each other and share experiences.

J.E.E.P launched just weeks after the UK Government officially announced its landmark campaign, the Year of Engineering, which recognises the significant impact the skills shortage is having on the UK’s engineering industry’s productivity and growth. The campaign is pledging to work with industry partners to offer a million direct and inspiring experiences of engineering to young people throughout 2018.

Supported by a team of educational experts, ABM UK has developed a syllabus that will be delivered to 36 Year Seven children from three London Borough of Ealing secondary schools: Northolt High School, Brentside High School, and Featherstone High School.

Running from January to July 2018, the pilot programme will engage pupils in engineering and facilities management with interactive sessions, and educate them that careers in these sectors are full of opportunities and earning potential. Topics covered include electrics, cooling and sustainability, while field trips to London’s Heathrow Airport and Transport for London’s train maintenance facility will explain how engineering plays out in a career setting.

Level 6 degree apprenticeship consultation launched by the BIFM…

Working alongside a ‘Trailblazer’ group as well as higher education institutes and employers, the British Institute of Facilities Management (BIFM) is creating a new degree apprenticeship programme specifically aimed at senior facilities managers to equip individuals for a successful sector career.

A draft degree apprenticeship standard has been developed by the ‘Trailblazer’ group which details all requirements of someone working at a senior management level in FM. Furthermore, the standard is open for wider consultation to all employers and organisations not involved in the development process. The group is keen to ensure that the standard has the widest possible support and applicability across the sector(s), and represents good value for money for all potential end-users whatever the size of their company.

Fraser Talbot, Professional Standards and Education Manager at BIFM, commented: “Apprenticeships provide great benefits to both individuals and employers.  For individuals it can provide the knowledge and skills to launch their career within their chosen sector. 

“For employers it can provide them with a skilled, motivated and loyal workforce to meet their business objectives. That is why it is crucial that the trailblazer groups consult with employers and organisations in the wider industry to gather feedback on this proposed degree apprenticeship standard. This will ensure that the FM’s of the future have the knowledge, skills and behaviours required by industry.”

It comes after the government rolled out its ‘English Apprenticeships: Our 2020 Vision’ strategy in a bid to reach three million starts by the year 2020.


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