FDM IT training academy

FDM

#101

Hey Everyone,

I have recently had my assessment centre with FDM and was offered the job so I thought i’ll let you know of my experience.

I gave my CV to a lady at my University Graduate Fair and I got a call back asking me to attend an assessment centre in London. I put a lot of effort into preperation, and after a lot of research I had heard of many negative comments about FDM. I choose not to believe them until I had whitnessed the comments myself.

So I attended the Assessment Centre in London, I got there at about 8.40 for a 9am start and no-one was at reception for quite a while and no-one offered to help so i felt like a bit of a lemon. Eventually someone came out to help. There were only four of us there.

The office seemed extremely nice and modern, very attractive first thoughts. Firstly we had a 15 minute video to watch about FDM. Then we had a short group exericise which was ‘choose a fictional character that has passed away. You are on a life boat, which one would you save.’ This was a nice exercise and felt it went well. There were two assessors watching.

The next stage was a 1 hour test that compromised of programming, basic technical questions, UML questions and things like that. It was pretty easy so no need to worry.

Then we had an interview, there was two people interviewing me. Very relaxed was just a basic conversation… why FDM, what are you doing with your life now days, what do you want to do etc.

Then there was the presentation which again was pretty simple and relaxed.

Unfortuntly, after this the hole day went down hill. We had a talk from HR about the graduate scheme. You get a basic wage of £18,000 + £2 an hour on client site. This only comes into place when you find a placement. This promptly lead me to the conclusion that FDM is just a middle man between you, and your job, FDM just caps your wages. (Yes FDM, you provide training, but other companies offer you training AND a job within their company afterwards which is garanteed. Oh - and also they pay you while you are training.) Although FDM trains you etc. you still need to be prepared to go out for interviews etc to find a job. This also means you have AT LEAST 3 months unpaid whilst training. To bring to mind how little FDM values you - I have an assessment centre for another company next week. They offered to pay me £150 for travel + a hotel ontop. This is just for attending the assessment centre. FDM don’t even pay you whislt they are training you. They don’t even cover your finances. I live in London, and I know it would cost me about £400 a month to get their. Thats £1200 just for travel. So your looking at needing at least double that to support yourself just through the training with no garanteed job afterwards.

When I recieved the contract, it went down hill even more, and I turned from the attitude of not just not liking their offer, to actully being very, very annoyed with FDM.

Be prepared if you sign… to sign your hole life away for 2 years (literally). Firstly, there is NOTHING in the contract about wages. I know FDM will write back to this saying you will be getting £18,000 + £2 an hour or whatever. But the point is, it is not in the contract, so whatever is said on here does not matter.

What really pushed me away is two clauses in the contract. One says you are not allowed to say anything negative about FDM, in work, or out of work (which would explain why no-one says anything negative about them :S) and the next clause says they reserve the right to monitor your computer, emails, phone calls to enforce this. Now, again, I know FDM will say they can only enforce this on work computers, phones etc. but you haven’t specified this, so I am taking it as you reserve the right to monitor my PERSONAL computer, phone etc.

Furthermore, I have not been told what training I am given, so I don’t know if its worth while, what qualifications I would get, if i get a certificate at the end of the scheme or what. Non of this is clear. If you ask, they will just say it depends on your steam. Also, whilst I was there, I spoke to one guy and he said he had to pay for his CCNA exam himself. So does FDM not even pay for your exams? I know it says they do in the contract, but this guy said he had to pay it himself.

To conclude: the hole thing is extremely dodgy. If you are willing to sign a contract to give your life away for 2 years, willing to have the risk of being jobless, willing to owe £20,000 worth of training to the company, then by all means - sign the contract.

To be honest people, you coudn’t pay me to work there. Sorry FDM


#102

Thanks RSF05.


#103

Sorry for the late thanks for your answers ITManiac and FDM.

I decided after reading here and on other forums that FDM is not for me.

I think there are people who will be quite happy with a two year contract. Some would call it security, but I think I would feel trapped.

It is the combination of affording to stay in London for the training and having to pay for the whole cost of training even if you only had a month or two left on your contract which puts me off the most. I am not even sure that the second point is legal, but that is not for me to worry about any more.

Thank you for your time, help and information.


#104

I want to thank everyone for the posts above.

I had an offer to attend FDM’s assessment centre in November last year but decided not to take it as I would not be able to fund myself for 3 months. I got a phone call from them recently asking whether I was still keen on joining them given my previous unavailability money-wise. Apparently they’re having a high demand for project analysts. (It would be interesting to know whether this is because they’re not attracting enough people to the programme or because they actually have plenty of work to go around)

Although I wasn’t very enthusiastic about the 3 months unpaid training, at the moment I actually have the possibility of doing it and was seriously considering it. However, after reading the points that were raised and discussed in this thread I have been absolutely put off and feel like it is indeed much better to wait for another opportunity to come my way.


#105

You know I really enjoy positive criticism because I always look at it as an opportunity to understand what people think and feel about you, and viewed in that light it’s a great learning tool that allows you to continually improve.

However, the scaremongering and some of the unfounded allegations and misinformation evident in this thread is disappointing. So as a 3rd year FDM Consultant currently placed at UBS in the city, I’d like to share my experience so far to hopefully provide a balanced perspective and allay some of the concerns raised in this forum.

Many of you are simply missing the point, I think there’s a fundamental misunderstanding of FDM as a company and its business model as a whole. Furthermore, too many of you are focussing on intricate details of the contract which at best represent worst case scenarios that would never come to fruition.

I appreciate that the “unpaid” training period may be a turn off to some, and that’s fair enough but that shouldn’t be used as a slight against FDM. For those of you in the North there is an Academy in Manchester and two for people based down South in London and Brighton. To suggest that FDM values their graduate trainees any less than other companies who may happen to offer paid training is unfair and demonstrates a lack of understanding of the Academy’s value proposition which is quite simple really –

  1. Free training (including industry recognised certifications) for up to three months in any of the Academies.
  2. 2 year commitment to being available for client placements.
  3. There is a penalty of up to £20k if a trainee was to renege on their training agreement or be found guilty of misconduct.
  4. Furthermore, in the highly unlikely situation that FDM are not able to place you within 3 months of completing your training you are free to walk away, but not empty handed… you leave with solid technical training in your chosen area of specialisation and several professional qualifications.

Now, the total cost of training + certifications/accreditations of ALL the IT programmes (Project Management Office, Java/.Net Development, Software Testing, Infrastructure Support and Application Support) have been independently evaluated and costed at £20k.
It is EXTREMELY unlikely that you will be charged the full £20k because you simply won’t be in the Academy long enough to complete all the training and why would you even want to? Most people I knew were out on client placements within 6 – 8 weeks, sometimes even before completing their training such is the demand for FDM consultants.

But this is all besides the point anyway, because unless you intend to deliberately indulge in misconduct you have nothing to worry about, and if you have mitigating circumstances for prematurely terminating your contract of course you’d be allowed to do so with no penalty… No one is out to get you!

During my time in the Academy several trainees were allowed to leave due to personal circumstances and the one person who was penalised turned up half an hour late every morning, spent his time playing online games and failed his exams, he brought it upon himself.

I really enjoyed my time in the Academy, it had more of a University feel to it with lectures, coursework and certification exams, and I made some really good friends that I am still in touch with today. Agreed that I had to support myself during my stay in the Academy but that was offset by the free training I received, which I felt was excellent. I had never done UNIX or SQL before and I always wanted to learn Excel VBA Macro Programming which is pretty much a universal skill nowadays. Plus, I gained not one but four industry recognised professional qualifications (Prince2, ISEB Business Analysis Certificate, IOC and ITILv2) which FDM paid for in full.

Our batch had around 55 trainees and 100% were placed, the majority of us in London at HSBC, UBS, Credit Suisse, Llyods, RBS, Bank of Tokyo and Betfair. Although 2 went to New York and several were placed in Zurich while a few went to the retail sector like Asda and John Lewis. Practically all of us have been with ONE client for the entire 2 year duration and I would say about 40% have been taken on permanently, while many including me have decided to stay on for a third year and the rest have gone off to contract on their own with their new found experience. There is an entire FDM crew living it up in Zurich and I highly recommend App Support trainees to go abroad, its a fantastic experience.

There are tremendous opportunities for growth internally within the firm as well. I know of many trainees who were taken on as technical trainers in the Academies upon completing their training, among other internal roles. Some of the Service Heads were once consultants like me, while some Senior Account directors began their career as receptionists. I even know of a receptionist who went on to train in the PMO stream is now at UBS!

As far as the compensation and perks are concerned;

Throughout your training period in the Academy All your expenses are taken care of when sent for interviews to London or abroad ie free flights and hotel accommodation etc

Trainees and Consultants also get discounted Gym Membership (Fitness First) as well as various other corporate discount rates at tonnes of restaurants and stores from Pizza Express to TM Lewin not to mention Hotel Accommodation.

Consultants are offered a base salary of £18k plus an hourly bonus of £2 in the first year and £4 in the second year which amount to just over £21k and £25k respectively. This does not include any overtime; you will obviously earn more if you work weekends or night shifts. All the App Support consultants I knew had to work night shifts and were earning well over £35k + even in their first year!

All consultants are also given a £500 cash bonus when you start your first placement. You are also afforded the facility to get a cash advance to cover any relocating costs. Plus you get a £500 referral bonus for any friend that you recommend to FDM.

Every year all employees are treated to a fabulous Boat Party where we are taken on a cruise around the river Thames all evening with complimentary food and drinks.
http://www.silverfleet.co.uk/fleet/silver-sturgeon/gallery/

And finally there is the generous company pension scheme!

So anyway, this post is far too long but I would just like to say that over 2000 consultants have started their careers through FDM and there are many including myself who have chosen to stay on for a 3rd year and even some for a 4th year. I appreciate that some elements of the contract may not be for everyone, but to suggest the company is a scam or question the legality of the contracts etc is ludicrous. There are other forums where such discussions can take place, you can either call up HR and discuss matters over the phone or attend one of the Open days to raise some of your concerns face to face.

There is no need for scaremongering and unfounded allegations and quite frankly I think it’s pathetic to copy and paste portions of an employment contract on an internet forum and attack a representative of a company in the manner that has been done here.

Peace


#106

Thanks Nik. I’ll be honest with you, your post sounds ‘salesy’ to me - maybe not to others though

How much would your training have cost you if you had decided to leave FDM after a year?


#107

Hi Dan,

I have no clue, but I don’t see why its relevant?

One of the main requirements of the Academy programme is a 2 year commitment to being available for client placements, so if one wasn’t in a position to do so then FDM probably wouldnt be the right choice for them.

The main reason I interviewed with FDM was because of the safety net a 2 year commitment would provide, so I had no intention of leaving after a year. My goal was to work with a client for the full 2 year period, build my network of contacts and be taken on as a permanent employee at the end of my placement.

That is what almost happened too, I was placed at HSBC in Canary Wharf in Investment Banking IT as a PMO analyst and my role later progressed into a Project Management position with a small team reporting into me. I thoroughly enjoyed my role and at the end of my 2 years I was made a permanent offer which I accepted but unfortunately a Group-wide recruitment freeze was enforced this year and my manager was no longer able to offer me the position.

I either had the choice to wait for 6 months until it was lifted and do nothing or look elsewhere. With the market being as bad as it is right now I decided to stay on with FDM because of the job security and I was placed at UBS a week later where I am presently working.


#108

OK, I’m just trying to work out the cost of the worst case scenario.

If I took only the training required to get a Java job, how much would that cost if for whatever reason you charged me?

I’ve not cut and pasted any contracts, but why is it pathetic for people to do this? If it’s in your contract it’s in there for a reason I’d have thought.


#109

nik,

I decided to intervene because I noticed that you’ve made some statements here that can be misleading to some people, especially when it comes to point 4) of your comment.
The situation that FDM are not able to place you within 3 months of completing your training is NOT highly unlikely. In fact it is very likely and I’m speaking of the position of someone ‘been there done that’. The placement rate is certainly not 100% and in London at the moment I think it is even less than 50%. If you don’t believe me, you can go and check out the amount of people that didn’t get placed within 3 months after finishing their training - you’ll be surprised (some of them have had 1-2 interviews for more than 6 months staying with FDM).
I just wanted to raise this point so that other people thinking of going there do not have very high hopes that they will get a job after their training.

Kind Regards,

ITManiac


#110

You would owe all of it. simple.


#111

ITManiac thanks for clearing that up. I have also worked for the company and can honestly answer any questions people may have.


#112

Hi Julian,

what was your experience like?


#113

not a very good one. I am not sure where to start, if you have any specific questions i can answer them.

Best advice I can give: If anyone is thinking of joining and has any concerns, have them answered, preferably by email so you have a record.


#114

Hi Julian,

What percentage of people that joined as trainees did/didn’t get two years work?

How long did you have to wait, from joining, before you got paid work?

What sorts of company did you work for?

What happens at the end of the two years work?

Thanks


#115

Hi HayDock Dan,

Its hard to give a percentage, there were the odd few who got placed before they finished training, some got placed after a few weeks of sign off.
You have between 8-16 weeks of training after which you have “sign off” which can take a a few weeks but they may make it longer (politics) depending on the amount of jobs they have going at the time. After sign off they expected everyone to continue going into the office for a further 90 days.

the work isn’t guaranteed for two years. You are basically “working” for FDM. You don’t work FOR their clients. FDM is basically an agency, who decided they would make more money from “training” sought after gradates in house than by placing experienced professionals. In a similar way to a supermarket making a higher margin on their own products than branded ones.
That is what you are basically, you are their product, they “sell” to their clients and make a VERY HIGH margin on.

So you need to be prepared to be without pay for up to 6 months, and continue forking out money for travel or rent, which ever applies to you.

I was placed a few weeks after “sign off”, so i got lucky.


#116

There must be a lot of people who have been through the FDM programme. I urge others who have had any experience with this company to share, so prospective candidates can make an informed decision on whether they wish to join the this company or not.


#117

Thanks Julian.

Although you mention that 2 years work isn’t guaranteed, if you do complete 2 years work with FDM what happens after that?

Do FDM continue to employ you?


#118

The contract is for two years. After these two years, you are free to leave or you can extend your contract and continue working for the company (I’ve met people who have done that).


#119

You are tied in for two years. After that you can continue to work for them but why would you? You can earn a LOT more by going your own way.


#120

Hi, I just have a quick question for FDM. According to Milkround the deadlines are 31st March. Is that the final Deadline or can you still apply after that? I know it may seem like a silly question but FDM has extended their deadlines in the past, so I was wondering if I can still apply next month.

It’s just that I found out about FDM just recently and have to go to a wedding next week.
I am highly interested in the Java Development position in London.

Thanks in advance.