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Th!nkFM: Training isn't about a piece of paper

19 June 2012

Training in FM is more important than ever, but don't just tick the boxes when taking on a learning commitment, delegates heard.

As FM has become more sophisticated, so the need has increased for training and accreditation, even for people with 15 years or more of solid experience, said Jill Fortune, principal lecturer at Sheffield Hallam University.

But keep in mind that “accreditation is not about the piece of paper”, she said during the panel discussion on choices in education. “It builds confidence and self-esteem and raises your profile within the organisation."

Denise Humphries, a BIFM Level 4 student who works for Mitie, believed her FM training would be a “more of a tick-box affair”.

“But it wasn’t just textbooks and essays, it was also about thinking critically about what the client needs,” she said.

Meanwhile, Gillian Minogue, a BIFM Level 5 student who works for a small-to-medium-size company, explained how she did her academic degree 20 years ago. She decided to go back to school because FM accreditation shows commitment and will be important if she goes for other FM roles.

Minogue also said she is not “looking to just pass” the two-year programme, which requires a fair amount of juggling family commitments as well. She wants a “bank of research” – an insight into the strategy of facilities management.

Still, for a company to invest in their staff there must be a sound business or commercial case, said Jane Drysdale, HR director with OCS Group, which has been investing heavily in training over the past two years. “To up-skill is important because staff will be more flexible as demanded by the client,” she said.

In the past two years OCS has been using "blended" training programme that includes a mix of in-house and and outside providers. Platforms include modular training packages, e-learning and one-on-one classes.

Students will take the most form their training programmes if they have a suitable level of experience to draw upon for examples of the problems and issues faced by FMs, said Linda Hausmanis, head of awarding organisation at BIFM.

For example, someone taking Level 6 will need a lot of work experience, said Hausmanis. But all training will have a challengeing schecule and the student will need a sympathetic employer. Also, a way of knowing if a student has been successful is if they change their approach to their work and how they solve problems.

"Training gave me the confidence to take on a number of projects that I otherwise wouldn't have," said Minogue.