SBFM, a privately owned soft facilities management company in the UK and Ireland, has launched Evolve, an initiative dedicated to providing sustainable employment opportunities and support for people from disadvantaged groups, and raising individuals above the poverty line.
Evolve is designed to increase the earning potential of low-income workers, including cleaners, while at the same time widening the talent pool for UK businesses by diversifying the workforce.
The initiative draws inspiration from SBFM’s London operations director who has worked in the industry for 15 years. Despite holding a degree, he spent many years as a cleaner where it cost him half of his salary to travel to and from work each day before finally advancing to the position of area manager. Evolve is dedicated to supporting individuals facing similar barriers to employment and career development.
Candidates include ex-offenders, care leavers, the long-term unemployed, refugees, disabled people, and those experiencing homelessness. They will receive dedicated supported to build their skills, gain confidence, and secure long-term employment.
People from disadvantaged groups face challenges that many others do not – such as lack of formal qualifications or gaps in their employment history, discrimination and prejudice, or language barriers.
Lack of opportunity means that care leavers in England are over ten times more likely than their peers to be not in education, employment or training (NEET) by the time they reach 21. While only 17% of ex-offenders manage to get a job within a year of release.
SBFM is working with organisations including New Futures Network, The Timpson Foundation, Ingeus and Shaw Trust to identify and recruit talent from a wider pool of people who find it difficult to find work, and then recruiting them into cleaning roles at its Evolve Partner sites.
With the Evolve initiative, a role with SBFM is just a starting point for candidates. By leveraging relationships with its clients, which include some of the UK’s leading businesses in PureGym, A.P. Moller – Maersk, and DPD, the soft facilities management company is able to provide candidates the chance to move into direct employment in more diverse industries.
It is a model that is already delivering results, with several ex-offenders and care leavers working as cleaners at PureGym whilst receiving free training to become personal trainers.
As the UK grapples with labour shortages in various sectors and faces its worst cost of living crisis in decades, SBFM envisions that the Evolve initiative will not only address the prevailing labour scarcity but also create life-changing opportunities for people who have traditionally faced barriers to employment and career development.
The company is rallying its industry peers, along with leading businesses from other sectors, to adopt a similar approach to put people first and transform the FM industry.
CEO, Matt Chapman, said: “Evolve is about breaking down barriers. We need to drop the stereotypical approach that ex-offenders, care leavers and other disadvantaged groups don’t deserve a chance. Many are highly skilled and come with qualities that can plug labour shortages across a range of industries. We are already bearing witness to success stories from the programme. The initiative is for this industry, not just SBFM and we would love to speak with more allies.”
People and Social Impact Director, Kelly Dolphin, added: “Someone shouldn’t be waiting 15 years to really progress in their career. It’s wrong, and that’s why we are changing things. We are calling on the facilities management industry to get on board with this because we aren’t seeing enough opportunities or progression for cleaners across the board. We continue to establish partnerships with our clients, researching their future recruitment needs and identifying which roles might be filled by those coming through the Evolve initiative. It is time for change and for this approach to become the norm industry-wide.”