(L to R) Vicky Jones, Subject Leader for science, Northholt High School; Adam Baker, business development and marketing director, ABM UK; Mayor of Ealing Councillor Simon Woodroofe; and Kate Bellingham with Year 7 students from Northolt High School.
Changing Perceptions of Engineering and FM
With a skills gap already threatening whether facilities management firms can literally keep the lights on for clients, one company has taken matters in-hand, launching a pilot programme and media campaign aimed at attracting new talent.
Yesterday evening, leading facilities management services provider, In her role as an advocate of the campaign, Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) ambassador and former Tomorrow’s World presenter Kate Bellingham spoke to children and their parents about the unique opportunity the initiative offers.
The move recognises that despite government initiatives like The Apprenticeship Levy and the introduction of T levels, businesses have a responsibility to safeguard the future, too.
The Programme's vision originated from ABM UK's group managing director, Andy Donnell, who started his career as an apprentice electrician when he was 16-years-old. Donnell successfully worked his way up the career ladder to oversee the acquisition of Westway Services (now ABM UK) by American services giant, ABM, and now holds the chief role at the award-winning company.
ABM UK’s group managing director, Andy Donnell, says: “This industry has an image problem that we need to change. People either don’t know about the opportunities that facilities management and engineering offer or they think it’s about oily rags and no prospects. This couldn’t be further from the truth; in fact, these technical roles are in such high demand that graduate apprentices are earning between £26,000 and £30,000 just a year after qualifying… and they have no debt!
"As an industry, we have a responsibility to start attracting fresh, young talent, and we believe that the J.E.E.P is a fantastic first step towards doing that. But it can’t be a flash in the pan: making the industry appeal to the next generation of talent is a monumental challenge, and changes won’t happen overnight, which is why we see this as a long-term, industry-wide campaign."
ABM UK’s J.E.E.P launched just weeks after the UK Government officially announced its landmark campaign, the Year of Engineering, which recognises the significant impact the skills shortage is having on the UK’s engineering industry’s productivity and growth. The campaign is pledging to work with industry partners to offer a million direct and inspiring experiences of engineering to young people throughout 2018.
Supported by a team of educational experts, ABM UK has developed an immersive syllabus, which will be delivered to 36 Year Seven children from three London Borough of Ealing secondary schools: Northolt High School, Brentside High School, and Featherstone High School.
Running from January to July 2018, the pilot programme will engage pupils in engineering and facilities management with interactive sessions, and educate them that careers in these sectors are full of opportunities and earning potential. Topics covered will include electrics, cooling and sustainability, while field trips to London’s Heathrow Airport and Transport for London’s train maintenance facility will explain how engineering plays out in a career setting.
At the end of the programme the children will be awarded a certified qualification from industry body, the British Institute of Facilities Management (BIFM), which will work as a credit towards an apprenticeship or further course should they decide to pursue a career in the industry when they leave school.
Linda Hausmanis, chief executive of the BIFM, commented: “The BIFM is absolutely delighted to work alongside ABM UK on this initiative. For many years the demographic time bomb facing FM has been much lauded and finding ways to encourage young people into FM as a career of choice has been a long-held ambition of the Institute. I wish the 36 young people every success with the programme and, who knows, one day one of them may be heralded as the “FM Newcomer of the Year” like Conrad Dinsmore was at the BIFM Awards 2017."
ABM UK has already collaborated with generous suppliers and clients who see the value in taking action, and the company will be looking at competitors for their involvement as the initiative develops. Following the pilot, ABM UK aims to take the J.E.E.P on tour in a bespoke mobile hub – a state-of-the-art double-decker bus that will take the excitement and opportunity of engineering and facilities management to children across the country, in their own environments.