Staff Reports | Digital Free Press
For an industry to grow and continue to be relevant and remain a part of the greater business community, it must attract, educate and retain young professionals.
Through its Young Professionals group and robust student chapter, the Greater Phoenix Chapter of International Facility Management Association, the world’s largest and most widely recognized international association for facility management professionals, is doing exactly that – making the presence of the facilities management industry known to young workers, according to a press release.
“Supporting young professionals’ development has been one of my focus points within IFMA globally,” said IFMA Greater Phoenix member Ted Ritter, LEED AP, PBD, PMP, IFMA Fellow, Principal at LMI360. “It’s great to see the YP group within the IFMA Phoenix Chapter gaining traction. Our student chapter is fully engaged as well.”
IFMA Greater Phoenix and other chapters around the U.S. are getting widespread support from the IFMA Foundation through an ambassador’s program and a growth initiative.
Facilities management is a $1.1 trillion global industry with 25 million facilities management professionals. Those figures alone should make it an attractive occupation, but there’s still work to be done in educating, recruiting, and retaining young people.
“The goal is to get young people inspired to pursue a career in facilities management,” said MJ Nagarajan Gomathi, CFM, FMP, SFP, FMG, Facilities Project Manager with Terracon, and a chapter mentor. “We are able to reach out to them through the Phoenix Student Chapter’s programs and young professional committee’s initiatives.”
With technology driving the industry, Ms. Gomathi said career aspirations in facilities management can be limitless. Anything associated with the built environment can be a part of facilities management, she said. The same applies to tech support.
“We have a yearlong mentorship program underway, where we pair our highly experienced industry professionals with young professional / student members for one-on-one interactions” Ms. Gomathi explained. “This is an excellent way to help them create a path toward a facilities management career.”
Industry data suggest that COVID-19 “expanded the scope of a facility manager’s responsibilities, and at the same time saw an increased demand for facilities managers,” the release states. Maintaining a building for the benefit of its occupant is the facilities manager’s responsibility from HVAC systems maintenance, to emergency planning, to energy consumption, to overseeing all aspects of communication in the building.
However, facilities management isn’t as well-publicized a viable career option for young professionals.
“Many college students are not exposed to the facilities management career path, if ever, until they are already years into their respective majors,” wrote academics Roscoe Hightower, Jr., Ph.D. and James Highsmith in a paper for the International Journal of Facility Management. “Unfortunately, without proper marketing programs in conjunction with high quality undergraduate and graduate degree programs, the U.S. and other Western hemisphere nations may never produce enough (facilities managers) to meet industry demand.”
According to the IJFM paper, facility management is considered a specialized process-and-services-based profession. After the pandemic, it states, facilities managers graduated to a highly specialized role. And the results have been positive.
Companies have recognized this shift and demand for facilities managers has surged. In 2021, the global facilities management market was valued at $42.2 billion. By 2028, that market is expected to mushroom to $109.05 billion with an annual growth rate of 12.6 percent.
A hallmark of the IFMA Greater Phoenix Chapter is the comprehensive professional development it offers its members, officials there contend. This includes the knowledge-based Facility Management Professional (FMP) credential that helps members accelerate their transition into the profession and the Sustainable Facility Professional (SFP) credential that helps facility managers make data-driven decisions and understand sustainable best practices. Along with career resources provided to them through various events such as recruiting workshops and career fairs.
The IFMA Greater Phoenix Chapter offers internships and scholarships to future facility management professionals. The Greater Phoenix Student Chapter won the 2017 Award of Excellence as Student Chapter of the Year.
“The career path can take young people from facility coordinators/technicians to supervisors and managers/directors,” Ms. Gomathi said. “We also want to reach out to trade schools as well and start training them right away on this career path. We want to show them how they can do it and how they can succeed in the industry.”