Michael Schley 2017-11-21 12:36:08
Engaging the Next Generation of FMs One of the interesting aspects of facility management is that almost no one in the field started out intending to be a facility manager. When two facility managers meet, the conversation is likely to start with the question “How did you get into FM?” or “What did you do before becoming a facility manager?” This diversity of experience makes for interesting conversations and adds a vibrancy to the field. However, it is also a problem. It is hard to move ahead when you are starting from scratch with each new employee. For facility management to become a profession, it must advance beyond on-the-job training. A true profession requires colleges and universities that are engaged in research, education and furthering the body of knowledge. Clearly, many facility managers will continue to come into the field from other disciplines and use the credentialing programs that IFMA and RICS offer to develop their skills. The profession will benefit, however, if this source of talent is supplemented by people who start with facility management as their intended career. The early leaders of IFMA embraced the vision of facility management as a profession. In 1990, they formed the IFMA Foundation with the charge to undertake research and educational programs for the betterment of the workplace and workplace management. Although both IFMA and the IFMA Foundation are non-profit organizations, IFMA’s mission is to serve its members, and the IFMA Foundation’s mission is to serve society. Three years ago, the foundation sharpened its focus. Responding to the impending wave of retirement in the baby boomer generation, the IFMA Foundation decided a concentrated effort was needed to deal with the issue of the FM workforce and the Global Workforce Initiative was born. The Global Workforce Initiative, or GWI for short, is driven by four ideas: • In the next ten years, half of the facility management workforce will retire and we face a serious shortage of qualified facility managers. • The field of facility management can provide real opportunities for the economically disadvantaged. IFMA can and should work in partnership with community colleges and economic development authorities to create pathways for opportunity. • We need to dramatically expand the number of accredited degree programs teaching facility management throughout the world. • We need to expand awareness of facility management by young people. The IFMA Foundation also adopted a new tag line, “Making FM a Career of Choice,” to express the focus on education. A DEGREE IN FM In 1980, the same year that IFMA started, Cornell University introduced the first degree in facility management. With Cornell as a model, programs were begun in other universities throughout the world, including Great Britain, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Australia, Hong Kong and Singapore. In 2010, IFMA began formal accreditation of facility management degree programs. Today there are thirty college degree programs accredited by the IFMA Foundation and the Facility Management Accreditation Commission (FMAC). About half of these are in North America, one quarter in Europe and the remainder in Australia and Asia. Although thirty programs might seem impressive, some simple math indicates the problem. Collectively the thirty schools produce about 650 graduates a year. With a global FM workforce in the hundreds of thousands, it is clear that this is not nearly enough. There are major geographies in the world that are missing recognized FM programs. In the United States, for example, until just this year there was no program in California, a state with a population of more than 39 million people. According to Steve Lockwood, director of accreditation and academic affairs, there is a need for at least 100 programs globally, and that would just be a start. The IFMA Foundation is working with colleges worldwide to develop significantly more programs that teach facility management and to help those programs become accredited. WE’VE GOT JOBS. LET’S TALK. In city after city, state after state, the rally cry is “jobs.” Leading the charge are economic development authorities. Besides their work in attracting new companies to a locale, economic development authorities also have a strong interest in workforce skills and will usually have close ties to community colleges. The ideal partnership is between local workforce development authorities, two-year community colleges and employers. Last year, the IFMA Foundation achieved success in bringing these groups together in San Bernardino County, a county in southern California that struggles with high unemployment. IFMA chapters in southern California organized a job survey that showed a substantial need for trained FM professionals. The California community college system served as the bridge to local high schools and community colleges. Finally, this past September, 26 students started studying facility management at Chaffey Community College. The model is being refined and repeated in Texas, Maryland and other locations. Two-year FM degree programs are also emerging outside the US. For example, Temasek Polytechnic College in Singapore offers a degree in facility management with emphasis on sustainability. Jeff Tafel, executive director of the IFMA Foundation, spoke about how IFMA members and IFMA chapters can be involved with this partnership. “By speaking at career fairs, giving facility tours and providing internships, IFMA members play a critical role working with workforce development authorities to develop an educated FM talent pool.” BUILDING AWARENESS All of the FM degree programs in the world won’t make a difference unless potential students know about the field. As a discipline that has long struggled with an identity problem, building awareness of facility management as an interesting and important job is one of the profession’s biggest challenges. A key activity in the GWI project has been to create materials that can be used to tell the FM story. The GWI project team set an initial goal to create a PowerPoint presentation that could be used by IFMA members when speaking to high school students. The ultimate toolkit will still include PowerPoint, but the project group realized that there were better ways to communicate with young people. Video connects much better than bullet points on a PowerPoint slide. That realization launched the project that resulted in a collection of engaging videos, all housed on an inviting website. WHATISFM — WEBSITE AND VIDEOS A successful communication project starts with defining the audience. For the WhatisFM project, the primary audience is young people in high school or in college deciding on a career. The secondary audience of parents and teachers is also important, but the target consumer is the individual considering college and exploring careers who might be persuaded to look into facility management. The key to good communication is telling stories. The content for the WhatisFM project started with the Greater Triangle IFMA Chapter meeting, shooting video footage of IFMA members telling their stories. Subjects were asked to talk about FM and why someone should consider a career in the field. The early recordings were quite promising, so the team set up a temporary video studio space at Facility Fusion in Las Vegas. By the end of the conference, stories of a dozen facility managers had been recorded. WHAT DO FACILITY MANAGERS DO? The first objective was to help people understand what facility managers do. The video participants voiced key ideas: facility managers are problem solvers, each day is different, the workplace is important and facility managers are the ones who run the workplace. Information on the website amplified the video messages, explaining key areas where facility management is engaged including planning, real estate, building operations and sustainability. WHY SHOULD I BECOME A FACILITY MANAGER? The second objective was to persuade the viewer to explore facility management further. Using video cuts from the FM volunteers, the site put forth four reasons to consider a career in facility management: • Travel • Every day is different • Develop problem solving skills • Great pay Finally, the site visitor is invited to learn more by checking out FM degree programs, FM internships, jobs in FM and career development opportunities. WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE? Creating the content was an important start and the GWI collateral team will continue developing more materials. The important task now, however, is to begin delivering this message. This is a job for everyone in facility management. Whether it is at high school career days, opening up facilities for tours, serving as a mentor or advisor to an interested young person or speaking to a college class, facility managers can play a key role in making people aware of FM. MICHAEL SCHLEY is an IFMA Fellow and currently serves as the Chair of the IFMA Foundation. He is the also the founder and chairman of FM:Systems, a facility management software company based in Raleigh, North Carolina. FM:Systems donated time and resources to build the WhatisFM website.
Published by International Facility Management Association . View All Articles.
This page can be found at http://fmj.ifma.org/article/What+Is+FM%3F+/2941493/455579/article.html.