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ABM UK’s J.E.E.P. careers initiative enters third year

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

Facilities management services provider ABM UK has kicked off year three of its Junior Engineering Engagement Programme (J.E.E.P.), which aims to tackle misperceptions amongst children and their parents of the facilities management (FM) industry, while creating a pipeline of future technical talent.

The third year will build on the success of the programme, which has been delivered by ABM and partners to over 280 students since 2017. In addition to this figure, the J.E.E.P. Teacher Pack has also been downloaded by thousands of teachers for self-delivery.

Supported by education delivery partner, The Transformation Trust, ABM UK will take the immersive programme into twelve new schools, reaching new students in London, Leeds, Manchester and Bradford. Running from November 2019 to March 2020, year three will see over 250 budding engineers participate in the programme.

In addition to the course being delivered by ABM and partners in schools, a teacher pack has been developed. This is available to all teachers to download on the J.E.E.P. microsite and Times Education Supplement. Created for use in secondary schools, the pack incorporates everything teachers need from experiment guides, equipment lists, presentations and worksheets. These resources are designed to be delivered in schools over four full days.

When asked for feedback on the success of the programme, a hundred percent of teachers agreed that their students were more interested in learning skills in STEM following their involvement in J.E.E.P.

ABM UK Director, Adam Baker, said: “The past two years have been a huge success, going from 32 students in year one to over 250 in year three is fantastic. Targeting schools in ‘opportunity areas’ has been a huge focus – we want to ensure all young people have the same opportunities to learn about the variety of paths to success available to them… university is not the only way!”

“Research from final module surveys revealed that there was a 14% increase in students considering engineering and facilities management as a career and a 24% rise in the understanding and importance of apprenticeships.

“Seeing feedback like this shows us that the programme is working. Our goal is to change perceptions of apprenticeships and the FM industry across the UK and we’re in it for the long haul!”

Cate Smith, Senior Programme Manager at the Transformation Trust, added: “We are so pleased to be working with ABM UK on year three of the J.E.E.P. Last year, we saw huge success with the nine participating schools and received incredibly positive feedback across the board in our end of project evaluations.

“Our hope is that the continuing success of the J.E.E.P can pave the way for other initiatives like this, and ultimately support the FM industry in closing the skills gap. Initiatives like this are a great way to introduce young people to a new interest through fun, curriculum-linked activities and experiments. It’s our job to deliver the J.E.E.P in the most engaging way possible and to ensure the students leave excited about their potential future in FM!”

For more information on the programme, visit www.jeep-abm.org .   

GUEST BLOG: Taking cleaning carbon neutral

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Lara Coutinho, ABM UK’s newly appointed Environment and Sustainability Manager reflects on the path to going carbon neutral…

In the contemporary marketplace, green initiatives are not just about acting responsibly for local communities and future generations, but are also essential to remaining competitive. 

This is why sustainability products, such as ABM GreenCare and Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design certification (LEED), are designed to support our customers to reach their green targets, whether that’s for cleaning products that minimise environmental and air pollution, lowering the energy involved in waste disposal or minimising the amount of water used in cleaning. However, it’s not enough to help others; we also need to ensure we’re “walking the walk” ourselves.

One of my aims over the next two to five years is to focus on ways in which ABM UK can move toward becoming carbon neutral. This means minimising (and eventually stopping production of) carbon dioxide (CO2); the greenhouse gas that increases acidity in the oceans and contributes to the planet’s warming. Where we produce CO2 in our cleaning operations and running our business generally we are exploring initiatives to support our sustainability targets, from planting trees and bio-diverse landscaping to unique site-specific technical solutions, created in alignment with our customer’s values.  

ABM UK will also be continuing to champion the benefits of eco-friendly cleaning products to our customers and the wider FM industry. My experience in planning and operational roles at major sporting events, including the rigorous testing grounds of the Rio 2016 Summer Paralympics and the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games, drummed home to me the benefits of these products. Not only do they clean to high standards, they also reduce energy and operating costs, protect air quality, preserve natural resources and enhance brand reputation. 

We’ll also look at ways to optimise and roll out the excellent ABM products already in existence, driving greater usage and pick up. This includes continuing the switch to renewable energy sources, something already started through our partnership with Bulb Energy, the clean energy providers, and our internal GreenShop programme which gives employees subsidised access to eco-friendly products.  

Another focus area is innovation and the new systems addressing carbon emissions, water use and waste disposal in exciting ways. The team behind BioWhale, a bio-digestor for food waste, for example, is doing an excellent job supporting our cleaning contract at Cabot Circus Shopping Centre in Bristol. Biowhale works by sending food waste to anaerobic digestion to be converted into electric or gas energy and fertiliser, and recently won a Green Apple Award for ‘Environmental Best Practice in Property & Waste Management’. The process saw 100% of food waste from restaurants and cafes being recycled, as well as the use of plastic bags for food waste being eliminated. It’s an innovative take on circular consumption that demonstrates some of the developing products that are out there.

Finally, we’ll also focus on behaviour change and shifting people’s actions on a consistent, day-to-day basis. Often people don’t see how the things they do every day can help the overall picture. Perceptions can be entrenched. A small thing that can make a big difference includes introducing a pledge wall for our teams.  A pledge wall asks individuals to leave a visual record of their commitments to making a difference, which can be simple things such as “I will avoid single use plastic, ” or “I will ensure I’m recycling properly”. Through the pledge wall, our teams and our customers can start to see what’s possible, have a degree of accountability and begin to see the potential of their own ability to enact positive change.  

Looking at the bigger picture, reducing our carbon footprint and becoming more sustainable is something which will touch all areas of the company and feed into our business and financial objectives. We believe that the day on which we will be able to describe ABM UK as  ‘carbon neutral’ is not too far in the future!  

ABM UK announces first J.E.E.P graduates

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

Thirty-six school children from West London graduated from the world’s first Junior Engineering Engagement Programme (J.E.E.P), which first started in January 2018.

The programme seeks to change perceptions of apprenticeships and make a real impact in the engineering and facilities management sectors by making use of the expertise offered by ABM UK employees.

The graduation follows research highlighting that sixty per cent of young people were unlikely to consider working in the engineering and facilities management industries, fuelling the creation of a skills gap.

Students from Northolt High School, Brentside High School and Featherstone High School presented their final projects, exploring how schools can be more sustainable, at ABM’s training centre in Greenford.

Each student has been awarded an official commendation from certified industry body, the Institute of Workplace and Facilities Management (IWFM, formerly BIFM).

Adam Baker, ABM UK director, said: “We have a responsibility as an industry to engage young people and demonstrate the attractive careers available, whether you are entering the industry through an apprenticeship or a university degree. The first year of our J.E.E.P initiative is a fantastic step towards doing this and we’re delighted that it’s been such a success.

“We set out to change perceptions of technical careers and the feedback from our students has been overwhelmingly positive. There’s clear evidence that exposing young people to the realities of the job, coupled with the right education, can transform how careers in engineering and facilities management are viewed. I wish the thirty-six young people every success in the future.”

Linda Hausmanis, Chief Executive of the IWFM, said: “The Institute of Workplace and Facilities Management (formerly BIFM) is delighted to support ABM UK in this initiative. Today’s graduation marks an important moment for the industry – it’s a step towards making apprenticeships in facilities management a stronger proposition for young people looking at career choices, and compliments IWFM’s work to reposition the FM profession as a career of choice not chance.

“There’s a serious skills gap in the industry, which can only be plugged if we pull together to highlight the fulfilling end careers we can offer. We look forward to next year when the programme aims to engage even more young people in careers in workplace and facilities management.”

Over the course of the year, students studied a syllabus comprising of 10 modules that cover the basic principles of engineering and facilities management. Topics such as heating, security and customer services were also included alongside theories of induction, electricity and energy. The course also allowed students to visit The London Transport Museum Depot and Heathrow Airport to explore the everyday reality of jobs in engineering and facilities management.

Morgan from Northolt High School said: “When I started the J.E.E.P course I had heard the word ‘apprentice’ before but I wasn’t sure what an apprenticeship was, or what a career in facilities management was. Now I understand about what careers are available and also what they are about. I’m even thinking about being an electrician when I’m older.”

Speaking of the value of apprenticeships in her role as J.E.E.P ambassador, Stemettes co-founder and CEO Dr Anne-Marie Imafidon said: “University is often publicised as the ‘only’ route but this is not true. Apprenticeships are a fantastic viable alternative, which allows young people to earn while they learn and then, often before they are 20 years of age, have debt-free foundations from which to build a solid, well-paid career. Not enough people know about the breadth and availability of apprenticeships; Initiatives such as the J.E.E.P positively profile the virtues of technical careers and engage young people in the options available to them at an age when they are forming views on their career paths.”

J.E.E.P is supported by industry partners including HelistratSMI WorkwearElectric CentreWestbury FiltermationTrinity Security and Fire and Diversey.