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Panel- Solving the Skill Shortage in FM

Panel- Solving the Skill Shortage in FM


Taken from FMP Celtic Manor Event, October 11th 2018


Colin Casse, Regional Director Projects and Construction South - BT

Adam Mason, Facilities Director - PureGym

Stephen Roots, Chairman BIFM & Head of FM - Matalan

Phil Singleton, Global Head of CRE Sourcing - Swiss RE

Can you give your thoughts on the size of issue we are dealing with? Will Brexit make the issue bigger or smaller?

Stephen Roots, Chairman BIFM & Head of FM - Matalan-


From my perspective, do we really know what is going to happen with Brexit at the moment? No we don’t and the people who are supposed to know don’t know themselves. In real terms, I think nothing is going to happen dramatically over the next couple of years, but we do need to start to look at where do we source our talent from and for me, initially we should be looking at our home grown talent.


We need to make Facilities or Workplace Management something that kids aspire to do, but the vast amount of people will have fallen into the profession from another trade and it isn’t a career to choice for most. So we need to get that to happen, which is a generational thing and it will take time.


With Brexit, will we look people from an operational perspective? Probably yes, but we need to look at how we do things and how we can resource them differently or apply technology to fill some of those gaps. So I think there is a longer term issue around how we deal with this and there is no silver bullet.

How do we go about attracting people into a career in FM?

Adam Mason, Facilities Director - PureGym-


We are lucky enough to be in a position where we have a trainee within our team who we are looking help start their journey into FM and I think it is key that we open up trainee jobs within our marketplace. We are only a small team so we can only have one, but I did a quick search on Indeed today and was very surprised to see there are no trainee FM jobs there, whereas for Trainee Accountant, there was around 500 adverts.


So we as an industry are not making the positions available for young people to get their foot in the door at the moment. So we are gonna try and do our little bit by continuing to bring in trainees and help them through the process because that trainee is going to take my job and so on and so on.

Do you have any opinions of apprenticeships? Do you feel they are a viable route?

Phil Singleton, Global Head of CRE Sourcing - Swiss RE-


No particularly but on the subject of recruitment, I think some of the problem at least is making people who are at the career choosing stage in their lives aware of what FM is about. If people get exposure to that and can understand what it is, then there are some really exciting areas that we can them involved in and people will be interested in it rather than just falling into it.


Whatever the current version of the career’s officer conversation is, it doesn’t seem to mention FM or Procurement at the moment and I think things like Graduate Trainee programmes can get people to look at different areas of FM. If we can get young people involved and aware, which isn’t easy, that may be the key.

With the changes in FM driving more data and automation, what impact is that having on resource requirement?

Phil Singleton-


From my limited exposure, absolutely yes, but I think it is not alone in terms of what is expected and to a certain extent, FM professionals are competing internally for access to senior management and space. I think it is really important to try and develop that.


Stephen Roots-


From my perspective, I think generally FM is a little afraid of technology that they maybe do not understand while being happy with what they have and know. I think Facilities Managers moving forward in the next 5-10 years as this technology creeps up will have to become aware as it becomes embedded into everything we do such as BIM. How long will it take for BIM to be embedded into existing buildings?


The role the Facilities Manager will change; they will need to have a better understanding of greater technology and the benefits of Big Data for example which will allow them to do more with the forward thought process and let the data run the day-to-day piece.


Adam Mason-


Technology is growing in some ways I feel to deal with the quantity of people we have now. So the more we use technology to predict the maintenance, the less engineers we will need and the better use we will make of the engineering portal we have, which should make it a lot more efficient.


We need to be able to open a marketplace where people feel comfortable taking that first step on the ladder, but technology is coming in at the other side of it and we will be able to use our natural resources better. So the gap won’t be so wide if we put the two together and face the two challenges at the same time.

What more can we do in terms of upskilling and training people internally rather than looking out?

Stephen Roots-


As BIFM, we created the first FM framework from Level 2 to 7, so from leaving school to a Masters degree, which was the first time that has been done globally. As an organisation, we also import heavily into the apprenticeship process. It is very frustrating when we go in and talk to the Department of Work and talk about the lack of take up and the taking and removing of budget for apprenticeships.


In the organisation I work in, we have been putting money in since day one and we have had two Design apprentices. So in my view, there are some serious changes coming to the apprenticeship process because it has not worked for whatever reason. There is free money out there and it’s your opportunity to pull it out and do it and it is so easy to do.


Phil Singleton-


I think the roles are changing all the time and especially in FM. FM Managers now seem to need to be Asset Managers and doing more collaborative work and technology is becoming more complex. So I think the role has developed beyond traditional technology and I think if FM wants to progress within organisations, then the soft skills are becoming more important in combination with the traditional and translating that expertise into a language that the business understands.


Adam Mason-


I think it’s great we have degrees work through it, but I am going to make a choice, I want to have a taste of something beforehand like an introductory class, but these don’t seem to exist in many places and if they do, they are in a six month cycle. You can complain there aren’t any, but there needs to be the people who want to take the courses as well. We don’t make it very easy for people to just have a peak and see if it’s a good fit for them.


Stephen Roots-


We have held conferences and speaking sessions all over the world from an FM perspective and we do get criticised heavily around the usual stuff such as getting new people into the industry. We need to keep repeating the message of what FM actually means because there are people coming in all the time who don’t necessarily know what FM is. Can we change how we frame it? Can we change it to make it more understandable?

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