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Young People and the FM Sector

Young People and the FM Sector
29 March 2021
 

How can those in the facilities management sector engage with young talent?

Kiran Kachela, Founder of Continuous Improvement Projects Ltd, a Business Solutions Enterprise, specialising in enhancing customer experiences, driving organisational change and achieving efficiencies and improved profitability, gives some insight into her experiences.

 

"Graduates aren’t going to seek out opportunities in any industry if they don’t know what that industry is, and FM does tend to sit in the background and wait to be asked to dance.  (I once had a young man turn up to an interview thinking he had applied for a job in FM radio!)."

 

Don't Miss the Opportunity

 

There are two facts that stick in my mind, both backed up by several studies. One: it is well known that the FM sector has largely failed to attract young people and recent graduates into the industry for the last few years. Two: the demographic hit the hardest over the past year of COVID-19, at least when it comes to employment and on-the-job training opportunities, is undoubtedly 16-24 year olds, many of them recent graduates. 

Young people in that age bracket have had internships and apprenticeships put on hold, job offers cancelled, and much vocational training has ground to a halt, at a time when the jobs market is getting squeezed tightly across all age groups.

Unlike many sectors that have been knocked sideways by the pandemic, there is a lot of life left in the FM sector, and a lot of work still to do. It has never been more important to attract fresh, new talent into FM. This last year, the world has changed immeasurably, in ways we don’t yet fully know, and FM will need to adapt to meet the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. Whilst you need the bedrock of experience and tried-and-tested methods to keep services running, FM would also benefit enormously from the new ideas, the challenging of complacencies and the sheer energy and enthusiasm that young people bring to the table. 

FM service provision is increasingly data-driven and digitally supported, and it is undeniably an engineering sector. Yet it is rarely mentioned in the same sentence as “STEM”. With so much emphasis now on encouraging girls into STEM subjects at school, and women into STEM careers, FM is in danger of getting left out of the best and brightest pools of talent, many of whom will be looking around to see what is out there right now.

We see so many missed opportunities to engage meaningfully with young people who might consider careers in FM, and more worryingly, a lack of commitment to bringing those young people onboard in well-thought-out apprenticeships or graduate schemes. We’ve seen people despair at a lack of applicants, particularly when it comes to attracting a more diverse talent pool who can help the business thrive in years to come.

You might be surprised how many young people are not looking to become famous social media influencers. Many are keen to have meaningful careers that offer diversity, development, security, work-life balance and a decent wage. FM offers all these things, and is a sector that genuinely provides opportunities for young people to work their way up the career ladder in a variety of disciplines.

At CI Projects, we are very keen to provide opportunities for young people, and to share our experiences about the work we do. Graduates aren’t going to seek out opportunities in any industry if they don’t know what that industry is, and FM does tend to sit in the background and wait to be asked to dance.  (I once had a young man turn up to an interview thinking he had applied for a job in FM radio!).

Here are a few tips based on the experiences we have when engaging with young people in schools and universities. It’s incredibly rewarding, for them and for us, and has provided my company with new ways of engaging with our audience and seeing things from a different perspective. 

 

Kiran Kachela

Picture: a photograph of Kiran Kachela talking to some school students at Bedmond Academy 

 

Going Back to School

 

Many schools run “meet an employer” type events with their students, from quite young up to school leaver age. I love engaging with the children, and am always amazed at how keen they are to learn about what I do in my job, how I started out and what my experiences are. It can be great fun, but it also provides them with some insight into a world they may not otherwise get a peek of, and knowledge of an industry they might not have considered working in. 

 

Engage With Universities

 

I was approached by St Mary’s University a couple of years ago, to give a lecture on Change Management. By maintaining this relationship, with the university and the students, I was able to provide a work placement for a student, which was hugely beneficial for both of us as it provided her with an opportunity to gain real-life experience in a subject she was studying and she was able to apply her theory to question some of our ways of working. . Since then, I have built strong links with other institutions such as Brunel University, and have just this week presented at their event, “London Businesses that are Creating Sustainable Skills and Opportunities for Global Students”. I intend to grow my collaboration with universities and students; it’s a great way to build a network that includes young people, as well as recent studies and research. In fact, CI Projects has also collaborated on a published research study that the government published last year. It’s the opposite of letting my business stagnate or fall behind. 

 

Internships

 

Last year, I was able to place my most recent intern, a Marketing graduate, despite the vicissitudes of the pandemic. He was able to give a boost to our online presence and brought lots of new ideas to the table, whilst we provided him with an insight into delivering professional business solutions working remotely but in a close-knit team. 

Picture: a photograph of Kiran Kachela and Sujatha Prabhu, a student from St Mary's University

Article written by Kiran Kachela | Published 29 March 2021

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