The Asset Skills UK Academy for Business Services was launched in May 2010 and is now being extended into the property and housing sectors.
The academy is about working with employers and training providers to raise skills levels.
It achieves this by providing a range of services such as the promotion of training and qualifications and facilitating the registration of candidates onto training programmes.
This latter service is a proactive role that involves the collaboration of all parties for mutual benefit. For example, three employers may wish to put 100 cleaners on to an accredited cleaning qualification course. If they collaborate and choose the right training provider (according to region or number of learners), economies of scale can be achieved and a programme will go ahead that may have been unsustainable without this partnership approach.
The UK Academy is a pioneering venture in that there has been little recourse to public funds in its development. Income is generated from membership fees which are kept low to encourage a high level of participation. Full details of fees are found in the membership section of this website and in the prospectus.
It is a low bureaucracy service, demand-led by employers. The UK Academy follows a similar path to the National Skills Academy (NSA) model, currently running in other industries.
As outlined above, the UK Academy acts as the training broker/facilitator and seeks to simplify the process and reduce the administrative burden on employers.
Asset Skills has identified a network of training providers who we believe deliver good quality training. This network is constantly reviewed to ensure employer expectations are matched and we will be looking to develop a quality mark.
The network will be restricted in numbers to enable each provider to gain significant benefits from their membership.
We believe this will be reflected in improved service and flexibility for employers. There are also plans to produce a professional UK Academy certificate for members which will help promote their efforts in staff investment and Corporate Social Responsibility.
Facilities management and cleaning fall within Business Services, identified by the government in the National Strategic Skills Audit 2010 as one of six key growth industries. Raising skills in this area has been cited as a priority if the sector is to meet the expected future growth.
We envisage the UK Academy as having a far reaching impact on the training landscape in this industry.
Although the UK Academy is a UK-wide programme, it has been trialling the Level 3 Facilities Management Apprenticeship across England. Apprenticeship recruitment events have taken place in London, the East of England, the North East, North West and Yorkshire and the Humber.
We are looking for employers to participate in the apprenticeship programme and aim to add other regions according to demand. As well as the FM apprenticeship, the UK Academy promotes other courses where there is sufficient demand from employers.
Its "virtual" nature means there are no buildings or big overheads. A core group within Asset Skills is tasked with overseeing the academy project.
This group comprises existing Asset Skills team members working on a national basis under Facilities Management Specialist Karen Waterlow and Director of UK Operations Steven Proudfoot.
To hear what FM employers think of the academy see our launch film on YouTube at: