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18 June 2018
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13 October 2016 Marino Donati


The Department of Education has just concluded its consultation on proposals for the development of new standards for apprenticeships, including in the FM sector.

Since 2013, so-called Trailblazers, groups of stakeholders, have been putting together their plans for developing new standards aimed at helping to reach the government’s target of three million new apprenticeship starts between 2015 and 2020. 

So what do the new FM apprenticeships hope to achieve, how will those developing them ensure that they will provide the necessary quality in training, and are they being developed by the right balance of stakeholders?

The Department of Education says that the apprenticeships are being designed to be of high quality and endow apprentices with skills relevant to employers.

Michael Walby, director of apprenticeship programmes at KPMG, says that this is one of the strengths of the new standards being developed.

“Traditionally, apprenticeships have often been developed through the supply side, but with the Trailblazer process it’s in the hands of the employers,” he says.

“We need to ensure entry routes into our organisation that enable individuals to reach all levels of seniority, irrespective of background or route, and ensure that apprentices are seen in the same light as graduates.”

Paul Wyton, principal lecturer in facilities management, subject lead for FM at Sheffield Hallam University, agrees.

“There’s input from people from HR to senior operators, people that understand it from an operational point of view and an educational point of view,” he says.

“FM is crying out for this. The whole point of degree apprenticeships is that it is recognising it and funding it 

at that level.”

One of the proposals is to develop an apprenticeship standard for Facilities Management Director of Estates Degree Apprenticeship level 7.

Typical responsibilities for Facilities Management Director of Estates Apprenticeship Level 7 role:

·       Promotion of facilities management

·       FM strategy development

·       Knowledge management in an FM context

·       Leading partnership and change in FM

·       Governance, risk and compliance in an FM context

·       Strategic estate management

·       Influencing the built environment

·       Strategic financial management in FM

·       Strategic procurement and contract management

This would cover strategic roles involving multinational FM function responsibility, building a profitable pipeline of work, planning, developing and initiating strategic and operation change.

Typical job roles it would cover would be head of estates, FM business development manager, and head of FM business operations.

Successful achievement of the apprenticeship would enable the holder to apply for certified grade (CBIFM) of membership of BIFM.

Across the spectrum

Fraser Talbot, professional standards and education manager, BIFM, says: “It is important that the development of the standards is representative of the entire spectrum of FM. FM covers a wide variety of organisations and sectors from large service providers to small in-house teams. Representation by SMEs is crucial to this process and we would welcome the involvement of these organisations on the employer group.”

Katie Nightingale, early careers manager at Kier, lead employer for the proposed development of the new standard, says: “FM is a dynamic and changing industry, the intention of the employer group when developing these standards was to try and future-proof them as much as possible. This includes emphasis on new technologies such as business information modelling and how that will impact on the way FMs work, but also the use of big data and analytics to support the management of buildings.”

A National Audit Office report in early September concluded that there were some gaps in the approach to developing the new apprenticeship standards. It called for the Department of Education to set out the how apprenticeships would affect productivity and growth.

The department said it would consider the report’s recommendations, and apprenticeships and skills minister Robert Halfon said: “Our apprenticeship reforms give young people a ladder of opportunity, provide employers with high quality apprentices, and deliver real benefits to the economy.

“We are giving employers more power than ever before to design apprenticeships that are rigorous, robust and world-class. The new Institute for Apprenticeships will ensure that apprenticeships are even more closely tailored to the needs of employers.”

Plugging the skills gap

Wyton is also clear about the benefits of the approach for the FM sector.

“It opens up what’s never been done well and that is a recruitment route from school,” he says. “To identify bright school leavers and give 18 and 19-year-olds a route into a process of development.

“The apprenticeships absolutely fit the FM agenda. In FM the skills gap is a massive issue.”

From next April, employers with a pay bill of over £3 million will have to pay a levy to help fund apprenticeships. Organisations including the CIPD have expressed various concerns about the levy, including that it could lead to less investment in existing training.

However, many employers have a long-established process of investing significant time and money into apprenticeships.

Walby at KPMG says that over many years the company has invested “the same, if not considerably more than the government is asking via the levy and way in excess of what we would pay as part of the levy”, although he does acknowledge that it may be a challenge for some companies that have not made that same level of investment. But he adds that the levy also provides an opportunity for firms.

“The government has empowered employers to allocate a percentage of the levy funds to other employers, including those that may be in their supply chain. So there’s an opportunity for employers to identify skills gaps in the supply chain and work with them to add value.”

Wyton says that the levy is prompting employers to take to take apprenticeships, including higher level apprenticeships, seriously. “FM employers are really good at basic stuff and good at top level, but not so good at how to get supervisors or junior managers into more senior roles,” he says. “We’re always talking about getting FM people in at board level and this will provide more funding to get senior people into FM. 

“What company doesn’t say ‘we put our people first’? Well, this is the way to do that.”

Levy lift off

2.4m apprenticeships started between 2010/11 and 2014/15

£1.56bn of public funding for apprenticeships in 2014-15

72% of apprentices achieved their apprenticeship in 2014/15

3m target for the number of new apprenticeship starts between 2015 and 2020

£3bn annual amount the apprenticeship levy is expected to raise

62% proportion of apprenticeships that were started at Level 2 (the most basic level, equivalent to GCSEs) between 2010/11 and 2014/15

97 the number of training providers who failed to meet the minimum standard of 55% of apprentices achieving their apprenticeship

in 2014/15

32% average wage ‘premium’ gained by successful Level 3 apprentices in the construction subject area, compared with those who fail their apprenticeship

7% average wage ‘premium’ gained by successful Level 3 apprentices in the secretarial subject area, compared with those who fail their apprenticeship

450 standards either developed or in development since the Trailblazer process began in October 2013 by over 170 different Trailblazers

2018 apprenticeships will be included in Performance Tables

No longer than a year expected time the whole apprenticeship development process should take Trailblazer groups 

April 2017 levy to fund apprenticeships will start for all employers with a pay bill over £3 million