One of the greatest frustrations I have with the FM sector is the lack of communication and customer service skills with which many at the technical management level operate.
When we founded Pareto FM, the premise was to change the future of FM with new initiatives the more established brands were just too big to be interested in.
One such innovation was the hybrid apprenticeship. At its core, the idea is that a young person completes a building services-related qualification while spending time with an engineer and the central FM team.
The most important aspect of the scheme was to ensure that the apprentice fully understood how FM operates, the importance of how engineering feeds into FM, how to communicate with the business and the importance of customer service skills.
Last year we put the hybrid apprenticeship into action with a top 10 accountancy firm client in central London. With the support of Bexley College, we quickly found our apprentice, Danny.
To date, the scheme has been a success from the following aspects:
- Simultaneously, the on-site engineering team and the central FM team have a further enthusiastic resource;
- The apprentice is developing at an extreme pace with a core focus on communication and customer service skills;
- The risk position and contingency planning for the future of the engineering team has dramatically reduced, all of which has been achieved for a marginal increase in costs.
The core structure
Danny studies one day a week at Bexley College for his City & Guilds Level 2 and 3 Electrical qualification. He then spends two days with the engineering team and two days with the central FM team.
From the outset, we got Danny involved in as much as possible.
On the engineering side, Danny does the following under the guidance and leadership of a qualified mentoring engineer:
- Routinely completes PPM;
- Changed bearings on AHU motors;
- Rewired emergency light fittings;
- Changed motors on FCUs;
- Completed repairs to change over contactors;
- Been part of the Black Building team.
On the FM side, Danny has been:
- Involved in office moves, which has included redesigning floor space using auto CAD;
- IOSH and DSE-trained; and
- Undergone several DSE assessments with members of
the client’s staff and he’s completed a large-scale
archiving reduction program.
When on his ‘FM’ days, Danny is based in the heart of the FM team so he can experience FM in real time, gaining experience around how to interact successfully with stakeholders across the business, dealing with both positive and negative scenarios.
The current minimum wage for an apprentice is £3.70 an hour. We’d suggest around the £6 mark, which is in line with the B&ES guideline. We’ve more recently increased our minimum level to £7.
A standard, four-year City & Guilds Level 2 and Level 3 electrical apprenticeship costs about £12,000 in total.
For the companies that contribute to the Apprenticeship Levy, they can use levy funds directly to pay for the training.
Companies that do not contribute can apply for government relief that ensures you only pay 10 per cent of the total course fee – a £12,000 course will only cost £1,200.
This makes the training costs of the apprenticeship near to negligible over a four-year period.
The first practical step is to scope a role that an apprentice can fill and then contact your local college. They’ll arrange candidates for you and also apply for the government relief if applicable.
Fundamentally, we believe that if we begin to grow an army of multi-skilled and engineering-biased young FMs, then the future of the sector will be significantly enhanced.
Aged 22, Danny is going to have a formal engineering qualification, four years’ corporate engineering/FM experience and exemplary communication skills – all the tools he needs for a successful career in FM. We believe that the FM sector needs more people like Danny and we can all play our part in shaping a bright future by implementing such schemes.
Andrew Hulbert is founder and managing director of Pareto FM