The Facilitator

Global Workforce Initiative: An Introduction

On May 19, 2020, IFMA NYC’s GWI and Education committees teamed up to present a webinar entitled “Global Workforce Initiative: An Introduction” to explain and to shed light on the GWI Committee and its work helping future Facilities Managers navigate their career paths. 

The panel was comprised of Alexandra Liz, Director of Corporate Real Estate for Lazard; Luis Jonathan Abreu, Director of Facilities, LIM College; Ayda Melo-Taveras, Director of Facilities, CBRE; and Gavaskar Reid, Industry Engagement Manager, NYC Department of Education. The panel was moderated by Annemarie Fleming, IFMA NYC Board Member and GWI Committee Chair.

GWI launched its efforts as a new committee under the IFMA NYC chapter in the fall of 2019. Its mission is to show students from diverse backgrounds that Facility Management can be a career of choice, support and help expand IFMA-Accredited FM Degree Programs at local community and 4-year colleges, and support students with academic scholarships to pursue local FM educational programs.

GWI is working with the IFMA Foundation to develop the next generation of Facility Managers and to fill the talent gap. There is an urgency to our work as there is an anticipated talent drop off due to retirement. Over the next 5 to 15 years, 50 percent of all FMs will retire; employers are facing FM talent shortages as there are fewer students graduating FM-ready. There are millions of middle-skill jobs (largest proportion of the workforce) that need to be filled, and FM jobs cannot be offshored or replaced. Nearly 100 percent of people graduating with IFMA facility management coursework find employment.

GWI & NYC DOE Partnership

The GWI Committee has a goal to have professional FMs participate in monthly NYC Department of Education (DOE) meetings, which are attended by school principals, vice principals and school counselors or advisors. During these meetings, FMs have an opportunity to address the audience and speak about the FM role, what it entails and our professional experience and to discuss the career opportunities available.

GWI and the NYC DOE have partnered together to shine a light on the FM profession for all of the Career and Technical Education schools throughout NYC. These trade schools have specialties in architecture and construction, with a focus on carpentry/HVAC/electrical/plumbing and engineering. In addition to the DOE meetings, if a school is hosting a career day, GWI will recruit an FM to participate in the fair and speak to any interested students. 

During Alex Liz’s first DOE meeting on February 6, 2019, she was able to exchange contact details with eight schools, four of which reached out to see how we can continue the conversation with their schools.

Gavaskar (“Gav”) Reid spoke about his role as a Career Technical Education (CTE) officer of the DOE. He shared that equal emphasis is placed on both college and career preparation and shared information about the career tracks for students interested in a career in facilities management. He also explained that programs range from architecture to HVAC maintenance. They cover all of the building trades as we know them and give young people various credentials to jump start their FM careers. 

“Young people need to know this is a meaningful and potentially lucrative career path to consider,” said Reid. “Same for CTE teachers. Many will be retiring in the next few years. We need FMs to get involved in our commissions, our schools, and in GWI to give our young people the chance to see this as a viable career path for them.”

The panelists shared their career paths that led them to FM-related careers, as well as what they find rewarding about working with GWI.

“When I was growing up, I wanted to be a professional baseball player,” said Luis Jonathan Abreu. “I was not born with those gifts. I did not come to FM from architecture or engineering; my background was in customer service. I worked in crisis intervention. I was a doorman,” he said. “No matter where you are in life, no matter what your experience is, you can link it to FM. It’s so broad, there are so many people willing to help you. If you’re a hard worker, you won’t fail.” 

Ayda Melo-Taveras shared that she has a passion to teach young people about what opportunities are available to them. This is why she joined GWI.

“I jumped at the opportunity to speak to young adults who come from disadvantaged backgrounds, like me,” said Liz. “I was born and raised in the South Bronx -- I want to show them there are ladders to be climbed regardless of their economic situation. During my teen years, I remember thinking about how I could improve my circumstances to get the future that I wanted. I see now how I would have benefited if someone would have shared with me the opportunities that are out there.”

Abreu shared that his work with GWI and CTE is very rewarding. “It would have been a lot easier for me if someone had answered my questions, told me what I needed to know,” he said. A lot of the students in high schools don’t speak English yet. I can speak to them in their language to let them know they are not limited. That they should take the risk. I find attending the DOE and Commissions very engaging. People can come from many different backgrounds and be successful as FMs.”

Liz said that some of these students can’t attend college. “We help them understand that there are scholarships or other ways to get educated and experienced,” she said. “You can climb the ladder based on work experience even if you can’t go to college.”

Fleming shared GWI’s three anchors to its mission. “We want to remove barriers to entry and give students the tools they need; we want to inspire them, and we want to support them with scholarships.” 

To get involved, please contact:

Gavaskar Reid, [email protected]

Alexandra Liz, [email protected]

Annemarie Fleming, [email protected]

Meredith Lovejoy, [email protected]

To watch the video of our webinar, click here.

By Meredith Lovejoy, Principal, Regional Development Director, TEECOM, IFMA NYC Board Member, Co-Chair IFMA NYC GWI Committee


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