BIFM qualifications the facts
Recent discussion and comment about FM qualifications, and specifically those developed by the BIFM, has highlighted that there is still misunderstanding of the roles of the various players, the nature of the qualifications and the progress to date.
This statement, together with the accompanying FAQs, aims to clarify the position.
The BIFM qualifications
These are professional qualifications awarded directly by the BIFM which is an awarding organisation, regulated by Ofqual.
In line with trends in higher and professional education, the new suite of BIFM qualifications comprises three different qualifications, Award, Certificate and Diploma, each of which can be taken at three different levels in the national framework (QCF).
Award, Certificate and Diploma denote the size of the qualification ie each requires a different number of credits. The three levels (4, 5 & 6) denote the level of challenge of the study and assignments, allowing different qualifications to be compared nationally and from next year across the EU.
For example, GCSEs Grades D G are at level 1; a doctorate is at level 8, the highest level.
level of qualification
1 to 12 credits
13 to 36 credits
37 credits and above
BIFM Level 6 FM Qualifications
BIFM Level 5 FM Qualifications
Level 4 NVQ
BIFM Level 4 FM Qualifications
At first sight this may seem complicated but what it lacks in simplicity it makes up for in flexibility for the learner. This is important given the wide range of backgrounds, educational attainment, work situation and motivations that the qualifications have to accommodate.
The BIFM qualifications cannot be compared directly with those offered by organisations which are not accredited by Ofqual or another national standards setting body in Europe.
The creation of the European Qualifications Framework will mean that national qualifications become more portable.
The ILM Level 3 qualification
Early in the development of the BIFM qualifications the Institute recognised the need for an entry-level award and chose to work with the Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM) to develop a level 3 qualification in FM.
The level 3 Award, Certificate and Diploma in Facilities Management are awarded by ILM. See http://www.i-l-m.com/learn-with-ilm/4557.aspx for more information.
Technical or managerial focus?
BIFM has not set out to create a generic management qualification. There are plenty of these and of course the Institutes focus is on facilities management.
However, the Institute recognises that facilities managers need good general management skills so each qualification includes units covering these, such as risk, financial, people and performance management.
The industry view
Does the FM profession and industry want these qualifications? Well, they were developed with their input.
An employer steering group helped design the new qualifications and ensure they were fit for purpose. It was vital that each level had the right mix of mandatory and optional units, that the challenge at each qualification level matched that of the typical learner and was related to relevant job profiles. Asset Skills, the Sector Skills Council for FM, was involved at every step.
All the feedback received from employers and learners to date suggests that BIFM has got the essentials of the qualifications right. Of course there will be adjustments over time through the usual process of stakeholder feedback in fact this is required by Ofqual.
BIFM developed and awards the qualifications, it does not teach them. The qualifications are delivered through Recognised Centres, accredited by BIFM. The accreditation process ensures the centre has the necessary support and systems to give learners a good experience.
There are currently thirteen centres, all regulated in exactly the same way.
BIFM expects more centres to deliver the qualifications as they become established.
Any new qualification takes time to become established and its important to remember that learners are not usually studying full-time for these qualifications but combining them with a job.
The BIFM Qualifications are not training courses but structured and formally assessed learning. Candidates have up to two years to complete a qualification but they can also be achieved more quickly, its up to individual learners.
The facts are these:
785 people are currently registered with ILM for the Level 3.
382 people are currently registered with BIFM for its qualifications and 688 unit certificates have been awarded. 52 people have gained the qualifications to date.
Information correct as at 22/07/2011
Regular updates on the progress of the qualifications will be published. BIFM is committed to the new qualifications and believes they offer those wishing to pursue professional development an important option a suite of nationally recognised qualifications with FM at its core.
QWhere can I find full details of the qualifications?
A Full details of the qualifications, including lists of mandatory and optional units can be viewed at http://www.bifm.org.uk/bifm/careerdevelopment/newbifmqualificationnetwork
Information sheets can also be downloaded
QWhy does it seem so complicated?
A Its not really that complicated but to ensure learners can choose the right level and intensity of study there are 9 separate qualifications Award, Certificate and Diploma each at three levels, 4, 5 and 6. Click this link for more information on the qualifications and credit framework http://www.ofqual.gov.uk/qualification-and-assessment-framework/89-articles/145-explaining-the-qualifications-and-credit-framework
In practice learners would not work their way through all of these but progress in steps that suited their particular situation, for example starting at level 6 if thats the appropriate level.
QWhich FM qualification should I take?
A Ultimately only you can decide this but BIFM can help. Options include the BIFM and ILM qualifications, a foundation or postgraduate degree as well as entry-level qualifications.
If you decide on the BIFM Qualifications then BIFM staff can assist you in selecting the right starting point.
QWhat qualification do I actually get at the end?
A For example you wouldreceive a BIFM Level 5 Certificate in Facilities Management
QHow do the BIFM qualifications compare with others?
A The qualifications are not training courses but structured and formally assessed learning. With a mix of mandatory and optional units at each level, the approach is flexible with the added benefit that assessment is work based, using practical business projects and scenarios.
Its important to bear this in mind when comparing the BIFM qualifications with others.
QWill my employer recognise the BIFM qualifications?
A Yes. The BIFM qualifications are registered on the national Qualifications & Credit Framework (QCF) so employers can see exactly where they fit and will understand the level of commitment and understanding required.
QWhy am I not reading about all the people that have gained these qualifications?
A The qualifications are relatively new so it will take a while for people to complete their studies. However you will soon be able to read about some of the people who have gained the qualifications already in our next update.
QWhat does it mean for my BIFM membership?
A Depending on your current grade of membership, gaining a BIFM Qualification could allow you to upgrade. The Certified grade (which allows you to use the letters CBIFM after your name) is only open to those who have achieved a qualification.
Full information on the criteria for BIFM membership is here
Education & Training
This qualification is designed for post-16 learners and falls under the oversight of the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and the Edcuation and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA). A significant number of learners will undertake these qualifications post-19.
Following its 2012 review of post-19 qualifications the ESFA removed 1,800 qualifications from public funding and a further 1,000 in 2014. In March 2014 the government published a Reform Plan for Vocational Education.
This qualification has not been subject to the same reforms as Applied General and Tech Level qualifications (which are specifically designed for 16-19 year old learners), however the ESFA has implemented a new set of business rules for the approval of qualifications for funding, based on the 2013 Review of Adult Vocational Qualifications in England. These rules recognise that adults may have different needs, aspirations and ambitions to younger people and include that qualifications should be:
- relevant to individuals and employers and affordable for all sizes of business and for individuals
- rigorous and based on a robust future-looking occupational standard designed and assessed by the sector
- recognised as worthy of investment, giving a clear signal of the economically valuable skills, knowledge and understanding required in an occupation now and in the future.
Regulation of vocational qualifications
The regulation of vocational qualifications is the responsibility of the respective regulators in each UK country – Ofqual (England), CCEA Regulation (Northern Ireland) SQA (Scotland) and Qualifications Wales (Wales). The regulatory approach undertaken for vocational qualifications is different from A levels. This is because there are no specific qualification criteria for vocational qualifications, as there currently are for GCSEs, AS and A levels. Vocational qualifications must comply with the regulator’s general rules, as is the case with all regulated qualifications.