Career of Choice: volunteer Mark Whittaker on introducing children to workplace and FM
06 February 2020
IWFM’s Career of Choice programme, developed in partnership with award-winning education consultancy Class of Your Own, is helping to inspire the next generation of workplace and facilities management professionals. We encourage workplace and FM professionals to visit schools and engage young people to promote the profession. We support these visits via a variety of resources and gladly assist with any questions.
Mark Whittaker, IWFM Non-Exec Director and Facilities Management Solutions Consultant at Thomson FM, recently volunteered to take part in the programme. Below is his experience of showing young people why workplace and FM should be their ‘Career of Choice’.
I have been passionate for a long time for workplace and facilities management to be promoted effectively to young people as a serious and fulfilling career option. I have lectured to university students previously, but it became clear we needed to start the conversation much earlier and that meant getting into secondary schools. I have also known Alison Watson MBE of Class of Your Own for a few years and have been keen for the opportunity to work with her on any FM initiative. When Career of Choice was launched last year in collaboration with Class of Your Own, it was the perfect opportunity to meet both ambitions!
I have since run two workshops with Alison Watson at Alder Grange High School in Rawtenstall, Lancashire, which runs a Design Construct Engineer (DEC) course and is very near to where I live/work.
Both workshops were positively received by the children. The sessions empowered them to become facilities managers for the day and see their school environment in a different light. It was also excellent practice for them in jointly constructing and delivering a presentation on their findings to their peers, on a subject that, up to that point, they didn’t know a great deal about.
The kids were engaged, particularly when discussing the influence facilities management can have on environmental issues, which was clearly really important to them. The highlight of the experience for me was listening to the children using their own initiative to interview staff and detail what they noted as they walked around the school as FMs for the day.
We need to raise the profile of facilities management and the exciting (global) career opportunities to young people, so they consider it as a career option at a younger age. It is important for all of us within the profession to let people know what we do and fundamentally to try and attract fresh talent into the industry, by explaining what a rewarding and diverse career opportunity it represents. If one person decides to pursue a career in FM, the workshops I was involved in would be a success to me.
The Career of Choice initiative is an excellent means to practically engage with young and hopefully plant a seed of FM as a career option to these young people. Get involved and help to nurture the next generation of workplace and facilities management professionals.
Get involved with Career of Choice by clicking here.