It’s one of the fastest-growing professions in the UK and vital to the success of any business. Perhaps it’s vital to your future success too? Read on to find out more …
Facilities management (FM) has always been an essential aspect of running a business and is recognised as a profession in its own right, defined by the British Institute of Facilities Management (BIFM) as an ‘organisational function which integrates people, place and process within the built environment with the purpose of improving the quality of life of people and the productivity of the core business’. Put more simply, effective FM, combining resources and activities, is vital to the success of any organisation. At a corporate level, it contributes to the delivery of strategic and operational objectives. On a day-to-day level, it provides a safe and efficient working environment, which is essential to the performance of any business, whatever its size and scope.
Within this expanding discipline, facilities managers provide, maintain and develop services ranging from property strategy, space management and communications infrastructure, to building maintenance, administration and contract management.
Performed well, FM can:
- deliver effective management of an organisation’s assets
- enable new working styles and processes – vital in our current technology-driven times
- enhance and project an organisation’s identity and image
- help the integration processes associated with change, post-merger or acquisition
- deliver business continuity and workforce protection in an era of heightened security threats.
Legislation has had a considerable impact, with laws and regulations covering many different functions, such as access for people with disabilities. Health and safety at work covers a number of procedures, such as fire and other emergencies, which have to be considered and implemented. Indeed, the person responsible may have to answer to the courts as well as their CEO.
Have you got what it takes?
FM practitioners require excellent communication and management skills, as well as relevant knowledge, in what has become a vital strategic discipline, which translates the high-level, strategic change required by senior decision makers into day-to-day reality for people in their working and personal lives.
Every organisation has someone responsible for the FM function. They may not actually be called ‘facilities manager’ but they will deal with this area. The smartest of front offices will have people behind the scenes to make sure the lavatories work, the photocopier has paper, and the internet server is up and running.
Few companies or businesses have the manpower or resources to deal with all aspects of FM, and this has been one of the main reasons for the growth in outsourced FM, which now accounts for well over half of the total market. Functions can either be outsourced on an individual basis, or everything can be outsourced to a ‘total FM’ company.
Skill up while serving
You may never have heard of facilities management – many Service people won’t have, despite the fact that they may well have been carrying out many of its functions. Some may even be halfway to becoming professionally qualified in FM without even knowing it. So read on … this could be you.
The vast majority of those in the Forces have been involved in the management of facilities. Environments from ships to ammunition sites, and from aircraft maintenance hangars to divisional HQs, are complex and demanding, and someone has to run them. It is not just the job of the administrative or logistic specialist – often it is a person with a very different job title and other priorities who actually manages the environment in which Service people work.
Many Service leavers find facilities management a natural next step when leaving the Forces; according to a recent FM World Salary Survey, the third largest entry route into FM was through the Armed Forces, with 10% of the sample having come from that background.
Many Service environments differ from their civilian equivalents. However, the principles are exactly the same: modern threats such as fire, electronic attack and mechanical breakdown may be very similar, and contingency plans for equipment redundancy, relocation and physical security translate easily to the outside world.
GET TO GRIPS WITH THE TERMINOLOGY
The BIFM provides a useful tool that will help you learn more about the world of facilities management. Its FM Glossary includes standard terms that don’t change much, as well as new ones that emerge and evolve based on what’s happening within the FM industry. Access it here: www.bifm.org.uk/bifm/knowledge/Glossary
TRANSLATE YOUR SKILLS
The issue is to explain the skills and experience you have gained in the Forces environment to a civilian employer who may not immediately appreciate the similarities between a nuclear submarine and an office block, and how the skills you have acquired in the Services may translate to the civilian workplace.
There is resettlement advice and training available in this field, should you either wish to specialise in it, or perhaps are looking to move in to a more general management role, part of which will involve being responsible for premises or facilities.
BIFM qualifications allow you to gain a recognised, accredited qualification to support your career and build your earning potential. All of its FM qualifications are designed to be flexible and meet your needs. You can choose a level and depth to suit you and then select optional units to match your development needs.
- All qualifications come in three sizes – Award, Certificate and Diploma – so you can choose the one that suits your needs and the time you have available.
- Qualifications are built up from a combination of mandatory and optional units, offering flexibility and choice.
- There is no need to work up through the levels – you can start at the right level for you and your organisation.
- The qualifications can be customised to suit your needs.
- All assessments are practical and work based.
- The qualifications cover real need-to-know FM knowledge and skills.
- The qualifications are aligned with BIFM membership grades (see below) so you can enter at the appropriate grade and gain extra recognition in the job market.
BIFM Recognised Centres offer a variety of ways of learning – face-to-face, evening class, distance learning, online learning – to suit you. The centres are located across the UK, and many are ELC approved providers. Indeed, the BIFM offers a number of opportunities for Service leavers to develop their FM skills and expertise, thus helping you to build your earning potential.
Use your ELC
Under the ELC scheme, a wide range of learning can be taken, provided it is offered by an approved provider listed on the ELC website at www.enhancedlearningcredits.com and is at level 3 or above.
As the professional body for FM, the BIFM represents and promotes the interests of members and the wider FM community, and offers several grades of individual membership.
- Affiliate is its entry-level grade and is suitable for anyone who has an interest in or is already working within the FM industry – previous experience is not required.
- Associate grade (ABIFM) is available for those with an FM-related qualification at level 2, 3 or above, or with two years or more experience in FM, while Member (MBIFM) and Certified (CBIFM) grades are available to those with FM-related qualifications at higher levels, and expertise/practical experience across a wide range of competences.
- Fellowship (FBIFM) of the BIFM is the most prestigious grade of BIFM membership – applicants are required to hold Certified (CBIFM) member status and are expected to have at least five years’ senior FM experience.
There are various routes to these grades, including a vocational route to MBIFM. You can gain professional recognition with BIFM membership.
Many, if not most, FM jobs are with specialist companies in this field, often contracted out to a client organisation. These companies employ, permanently or on contract, people who are competent in all the disciplines associated with FM. Many run huge contracts with military organisations, providing the infrastructure for bases throughout the UK and wherever the Armed Forces are serving in the world. In smaller organisations, including schools and partnership practices, FM may well be only a part – albeit an important one – of the overall management job.
If you’re planning to move into FM after leaving the Forces, you can find various job vacancies and support via the BIFM, to help you make your career transition. Search for the latest jobs in facilities management on FM World Jobs, the recruitment website for FM World, the BIFM’s magazine – see: http://jobs.fm-world.co.uk/
The BIFM also offers a careers service for members, to support FM professionals at any stage in their career. All career coaching sessions are one-to-one to ensure that you get tailored guidance that is relevant to you. Discover the career direction that is best for you with added support to help manage the transition from Armed Forces to a civilian role in FM.
There are few professions that are as well suited to a transfer from Services to civilian life. Those in the Forces currently looking after facilities are likely to be learning valuable skills for use in industry. However, as noted above, there are some key elements involved in gaining professional recognition in the FM field, so it helps to understand the importance and relevance of previous experience.