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Hiring in FM – Looking Beyond University Degrees

Hiring in FM – Looking Beyond University Degrees
09 August 2022
 

Employers that use degrees to screen candidates could be missing out on key talent and exacerbating the skills gap.

The CIPD asked over 2,000 senior decision-makers about how they screen candidates. The majority of those asked (57 per cent) still mainly look for degrees or post-graduate qualifications when recruiting staff.

In response, the CIPD is calling for employers to focus on skills and experience rather than specific qualifications when considering job applicants and to invest in a range of vocational training options to upskill existing staff.

We put this issue to the facilities and workplace management, commercial property, and built environment community.

 

“There are few industries as impactful as Facilities Management. The problem in FM is more one of recognition. As older professionals age out of the sector, fewer young people are attracted to the sector, or likely don’t even know it exists. Professionals from across FM talk about 'falling into it', and this lack of recognition exacerbates the skills gaps in the sector."

–Paul Connolly

CEO, 300 North

 

Watch the Video

 


 

A Desire for Continued Professional Development is Key

 

More than half of the people interviewed said that they look for degrees or post-graduate qualifications from jobseekers. The CIPD says this is often just to “sift” large volumes of applications and can disadvantage jobseekers with relevant experience, but not specific qualifications. 

Freelance FM and Safety Consultant Adam Fahn feels that a person’s commitment to learn and gain experience is far more important:

“Facilities management is such a wide-ranging profession we have people enter it from many directions and a high number of good managers in my experience have no degree level qualifications and certainly not a degree level FM qualification.

“Although a degree in a subject such as English or a traditional science can demonstrate certain skills, with no two days ever feeling the same, what would a degree prove over experience and relevant industry qualifications? In my view, very little.

 

Image

Picture: a photograph of Adam Fahn

 

“It is the person's commitment to learn and gain experience and thus demonstrating a desire for CPD that is far more important than an abstract degree they did maybe one or even twenty-one years ago.

“I have a degree in maths. It's not directly related to FM and in reality is far less use in my job than the various City and Guilds accredited training courses, NEBOSH General Certificate, and my IWFM qualification completed in the 20 years since graduating.

“We need to look for the right attitude more than the right university education.” 

Despite the continued focus on degrees, a third of employers (33 per cent) agreed that university/HE institute candidates are either “fairly” or “very” poorly prepared for the workplace and school and college leavers even less so.

 

The Importance of Soft Skills

 

Robert Blackler, VP of Sales at Infraspeak, believes that as technology further embeds itself in FM, managers and technicians are facing monumental changes tantamount to an industrial revolution:

“In our opinion, the most important thing that managers can do moving forward is ensure that soft skills are honed and democratised. This means ensuring people are aligned on the future; remain adaptable and with a predisposition to learn and finally, a willingness to use this technology. 

 

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Picture: a photograph of Robert Blackler

 

“From here, human potential, creativity and competitiveness will run their course, meaning the onus is on companies to upskill and reskill new and existing teams to prepare them for the next wave of changes in the Age of Intelligence.”

 

Challenging the Definition of Success

 

While our graduates tend to come from university backgrounds, this is a reflection of the RICS requirements to have relevant real estate qualifications and we, as an industry, need to seek to change this ‘need’ for the better, says Angela Hughes, HR Director at Cluttons.

“Recently we promoted our first ever non-fee earner to an equity partner and promoted one of our senior surveyors who has returned from maternity leave to associate despite not currently being chartered. We have trainee surveyors without RICS accredited degrees who we support to sit their APC in time and are promoted in the meantime based on their skills and commitment regardless.

“One of our equity partners joined us without a degree and studied part-time to learn from the College of Estate Management. As a demonstration of no educational barriers, he is now on our exec board and heads up the Management business unit.

“We believe in assessing an individual’s potential and talent and supporting them accordingly. A degree is not a necessity in today’s world, and we hope to broaden our talent pool still further by communicating this effectively through many channels and by working collectively with others to ensure the message cuts through. Property is all about the people, and it’s the uniqueness of each individual that builds a brilliant company.”

 

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Picture: a photograph of Angela Hughes

 

Worsening the Technical Skills Gap

 

68 per cent of the employers surveyed by CIPD said that the skills they have the most difficulty finding in jobseekers are overwhelmingly technical skills. Paul Connolly, CEO of FM recruitment company 300 North, believes the lack of recognition in FM is also worsening the skills gap.

“Many roles in the FM sector have not been covered by university degrees until recently, including a BA degree in Facilities Management which is only offered at a few universities in the UK.

“This means that FM companies have been recruiting talent from outside the graduate pool for many years and particularly when it comes to entry-level roles. This also means that many FM companies already have robust training and development programmes in place to funnel new starters into the business and train them up in the roles they choose."

 

Image

Picture: a photograph of Paul Connolly

 

“There are few industries as impactful as Facilities Management. The problem in FM is more one of recognition. As older professionals age out of the sector, fewer young people are attracted to the sector, or likely don’t even know it exists. Professionals from across FM talk about 'falling into it', and this lack of recognition exacerbates the skills gaps in the sector."

Picture: a photograph of a group of graduates wearing traditional gowns, throwing their mortarboard caps into the air. Image Credit: Pexels

Article written by Ella Tansley | Published 09 August 2022

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