29 September 2011
IThe government’s skills for sustainable growth strategy includes key reforms of the skills system, all aimed at accelerating economic growth. There are plans to support the 19-24 age-group with fully funded training for entry level qualifications and also for those leaving school without basic reading, writing and mathematics. Labour market relevant training is being introduced for people on active job seeking benefits and SME focused offers are in place to help small employers train low skilled staff.
This is a welcome recognition that skills development plays a vital part in the success of the economy and that hard-pressed organisations need support to recruit young people with employer ready skills sets and attitudes. But what about those already in the workplace? How can organisations capitalise on their middle-to-senior level staff and drive performance through higher level skills development?
Unfortunately, there is no magic bullet of public funding to support learning and development at this level. Yes, there are some welcome initiatives, such as the current focus on developing apprenticeships across a range of business sectors. But post-recession, the direction of travel seems to be towards career development loans for individuals and a plea to employers to rise to the challenge and invest in their home grown talent.
So what are the options available for learning and development professionals tasked with managing staff development programmes? And how can busy FMs try to future proof their careers, while dealing with the challenge of delivering more for less?
A good place to start in this tough economic environment is by recognising and developing existing resources, and successful businesses know that succession planning and talent management are effective ways to meet future needs. Recruitment costs will be lower and there will be a positive impact on building a loyalty base and reputation as an employer
On an individual level, being in charge of your own career development makes sense too. It’s important to take stock of where you are and where you want to get to. Yes, it takes time and effort to gain that recognition, but the rewards are tangible and may give you that much needed competitive edge when you most need it.
The choices, in fact, have never been better. The opportunities for formal education pathways in FM are now clearly established and with qualifications of different sizes and different levels, it’s easier to fit your learning round a busy work schedule and other commitments. And for those wanting to top up practical skills in the workplace, there’s also a good range of training courses and CPD activities to help you keep up to date.
You can also access SkillZone, BIFM’s new e-learning portal at www.bifm-skillzone.org.uk
Valerie Everitt is professional standards and education director of the BIFM