• Friday, July 19, 2024
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BusinessDay

Education and FM

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In general terms, education is a form of learning in which knowledge, skill, and habits are gained through teaching, training and research. It is that wealth of knowledge acquired after studying a particular subject matter and/or the enlightening experiences in life that provide an understanding of something that is called education. Experience in this context means the formative effect on the way one thinks, feels or acts in a given situation. Therefore, the advantage of education can be summarised as being informed and having one’s power of reasoning and judgment (i.e., the abilities of the mind) developed.

Having stated the foregoing, the question now is: what has education got to do with facilities management? The answer lies in the fact that despite the increasing demand for professionals capable of running facilities, the pool of qualified candidates is simply not available. Part of the problem facing the development of the industry in Nigeria is that youths have little or no exposure to the facilities management discipline. It is a known fact that public schools do not have any curriculum components that would teach students about this profession. Also, the schools fail to suggest FM as a possible career option to younger individuals thinking about what they are going to do with their lives. If students are unaware that facilities management is a viable career option for them, it is unlikely that they will choose to pursue that career path in the future. Let’s look at the following examples of the importance of education to FM.

Example 1

The role of facilities managers, for instance, is to make sure buildings and their services meet the needs of the people that use those buildings. To manage the various services and systems would require good organisational skills. Having to deal with so many people will require good spoken and written communication skills. Good customer and client management skills are also required for obvious reasons. FM managers need to have an understanding of the business and finance in order to assist clients to achieve their business objectives. These are skills developed by means of studying and learning.

Example 2

Electricians can develop skills in Periodic Inspection, Testing and Reporting or in the design and installation of electrical systems by taking electrical courses.

Example 3

Plumbers, for instance, need to be trained on how to follow technical drawings and plans, so there are plumbing qualifications. Through training, plumbers learn to have a careful and well-ordered approach to work.

Example 4

There should be qualifications even for cleaners because they are required to work quickly and efficiently, follow job and safety instructions, be reasonably fit and healthy and also need to be honest and reliable. As unskilled as the cleaning job is, professional cleaners should have the option of choosing from the variety of tasks such as cleaning hazardous items, floor cleaning or restroom cleaning and cleaning at heights.

What has prevailed in the FM Industry in Nigeria to date is that most facility managers do not think and act like professionals. The result is the missing key skills like critical thinking and collaboration.

A common course to becoming a technician is to do an apprenticeship, which is good, but a better way would be to combine learning on the job with study at a college or training centre.

The conclusion is that those within the industry should push for change. It is important that people qualify properly and get the essential training if the industry is looking to expand and tackle new challenges.

Tunde Obileye