Those of us responsible for hiring staff to maintain our facilities want to be certain that those individuals can handle the job; ideally, we need people who have experience. But often, the folks who are looking for positions in our field come across job descriptions that make them scratch their heads — how am I supposed to have five years of experience when I just graduated high school or college, or am coming from another field or the military?

Keeping in mind the nation’s workforce shortage, and the high number of facility workers and leaders preparing for retirement, it is critical that we make every effort to get more people interested in our field. We also need to remove existing barriers in order to create new opportunities that will mutually benefit both existing facilities and future candidates.

These opportunities must provide future workers with experience while also contributing to the facility department’s mission. Internship and apprenticeship programs are a key solution to this issue.

Many people in our field have already recognized the need to provide these opportunities, from offering internships to high school students, to developing professional training programs, apprenticeship programs and more. I’m very proud to be part of one such group in southeastern Wisconsin: the Multi-Organizational Facilities Internship Program.

This group of exceptional leaders set industry competition aside to rally around developing a solution. Leaders from five health care systems, Veterans Affairs, two local technical colleges, industry-leading contractors and several strong business partners developed an internship program that could be adopted by any health care system across the state, opening the doors for a future generation of facility workers.

To learn more about these programs supported through American Society for Health Care Engineering (ASHE) resources, look for an ASHE monograph with information and case studies on facility management internship and apprenticeship programs, which is due to be published in 2020.

I hope you’ll be inspired by these stories to create or adopt a program in your own facility. It is only by investing in our future that we can guarantee the continued success of our facilities and safety of our patients and communities!