Push STEM subjects in schools, says Global FM Gold Award-winner

15 July 2016 | Jamie Harris

STEM subjects should be promoted in schools to increase the number of school-leavers entering facilities management, according to Kelly Stone, engineering training and development manager at Heathrow Airport.


Stone was speaking to FM World editor Martin Read at the BIFM’s AGM earlier this week after being presented with the Global FM Gold Award of Excellence in FM.


The award was given to Heathrow for its learning and development scheme: from school to retirement.


Stone said she and the whole senior management team at Heathrow are keen on helping schoolchildren to understand what careers and opportunities are available through STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) subjects at school.


She told FM World: “There’s going to be a shortage of people with those skills – more than three-quarters of a million by 2020. So the whole workforce is keen to make sure that the schoolchildren in the local areas can see careers and opportunities and what else they can do at Heathrow.


“I think we’re still having to do quite a lot of explaining [what opportunities are available]; there has been a drive to promote STEM throughout the country, but I think we need to get in to the core routes with the children, giving them some guiding advice.”


Stone explained that Heathrow sends some of its current apprentices to speak at local schools to generate more engagement with the children.


“We go into schools with our apprentices, who are dynamic young men and women, and the children see 16-30 people sharing their skills, sharing their passion.


“That gets them far more engaged than I or any school teacher probably could.


“Our apprenticeship scheme provides more than 50 per cent of entire facilities workforce. More than 70 per cent of everyone who has gone through the scheme [since its inception in 1977] are still here, including [the 2015 BIFM Facilities Manager of the Year] Alan Russell.”

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