In the United States, there is clear documentation and proof that there is a crisis in unemployment and lack of job skills in the labor market. In an effort to help fill the gap between expected high levels of retirement in facility management (FM) with few choosing FM as a career of choice, the IFMA Foundation has determined from recent research this is a global crisis. The Foundation, a charitable nonprofit organization with the mission to make FM a career of choice, notes the following:
- 75 million youth are unemployed.
- Half of the youth today are not sure that their postsecondary education has improved their chances of finding a job.
- Almost 40% of employers say a lack of skills is the main reason for entry-level vacancies.
In the U.S., this issue is getting attention with the passing of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act in July 2014. To innovate, it is necessary to have an international perspective as many countries are experiencing similar labor market challenges. The IFMA Foundation is joining in this global conversation through its Global Workplace Workforce Initiative.
To provide some perspective: it is predicted that over 50% of FM professionals will retire in the next 10 years. And corporations cannot fill vacancies in FM with enough qualified staff. A recent Jones Lang LaSalle study identified the average age of FM professionals is 49—significantly older than the general working population average of 43.
Meanwhile, job placement for graduates with a degree in FM is nearly 100% with great starting salaries. Yet there are not enough FM degree programs or graduates to fill the FM vacancies coming available.
One of the key programs of the IFMA Foundation is the accreditation of degrees in FM. Currently the Foundation and the FM Accreditation Commission have recognized 31 degree programs (two year, four year, and graduate) at 28 colleges and universities worldwide. The Foundation also raises money for scholarships for FM college students, awarding more than $1.2 million to hundreds since program inception.
Now with more than 2,000 students enrolled in accredited degree programs, the IFMA Foundation looks to double the number of these programs being offered in the next few years. More degree programs means the profession will become more visible to younger constituents (e.g., high school students) and increase the viability of FM as a career of choice to fill the student seats in the increasing number of degree programs.
Through the Global Workplace Workforce Initiative, the IFMA Foundation will act as a connector between business, government, high schools, colleges, universities, economic development, IFMA chapters, and other FM organizations to grow the future FM workforce and fill the sizeable gap in the jobs that will become available as the baby boomers retire.
Pilot programs with key constituencies involved will be conducted in late 2014 and early 2015 in the U.S., while identifying how other countries are creating policies, jobs, internships, and opportunities for youth to choose a career in FM. The Foundation is also seeking industry partners to join the effort to effect change by creating demand—focusing on bringing the right skills to the FM labor market and the organizations that employ them. The initiative will be working with high schools, community colleges, and higher education institutions that have programs in place like:
- STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math);
- STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts & Math);
- ACE (Architecture, Construction, Engineering); and
- P-Tech (Pathways in Technology Early College High School).
The schools will then be primed to feed the wide-ranging, diverse career pathways in the field and the FM accredited degree program pipeline. Because FM has so many career pathways and jobs coming available in every business sector (jobs that cannot be offshored), it is time to be proactive, tell the story of this profession, and develop future FMs.
Workforce development is the key to the future of the profession, and the IFMA Foundation is working to provide additional work based learning opportunities through internships, scholarships, and job fairs. The initiative also calls for IFMA and the IFMA Foundation to offer educational content to these existing STEM focused programs and train teachers and guidance counselors, and students and their parents about FM. Furthering the Global Workplace Workforce Initiative will require more volunteers and financial resources, and the Foundation welcomes interest from potential volunteers as well as from organizations interested in lending support to FM as a career of choice.
For more information on the IFMA Foundation, visit this link.