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Addressing the recruitment shortfall within FM in 2024

Although research has suggested there is a largely positive outlook regarding workloads and employment across the facilities management sector, many employers continue to cite difficulties in finding staff for skilled maintenance, support services and property management roles. What more can be done next year to help address the recruitment shortfall within the facilities management sector?


The FM sector has continually seen stable growth despite difficult economic headwinds in recent years. In terms of recruitment and the talent shortfall we continue to see in the sector, businesses have adopted a number of strategies to bring in the talent they need. Retention is a large part of this, and this year we have seen many businesses address and improve their approach to ESG and CSR internally in order to boost employee satisfaction and engagement.

The constraint on staffing for various roles across FM is largely due to the lack of necessarily skilled professionals in these areas. It’s vital that we continue to see that the major medium and long-term projects to implement training and development programmes continue to be resourced and provided across the sector. Businesses are working with local educational bodies to provide accredited qualifications and building up their in-house training programmes to bring people on at all levels and give them the relevant skills within their roles. For companies without such programmes, immediate action is imperative as the significant benefits of such projects require time and patience in a fast-moving industry.

A well-established training and development scheme within the business can have the most tangible long-term benefits, as anyone with the aptitude to perform in the role can be hired and receive training that will extend their knowledge. This practical approach to talent development is crucial for creating a qualified workforce that can meet the sector’s needs.

Apprenticeships and vocational qualifications are also vital to the growth of the industry and filling the skills gaps in the sector. These initiatives are not just stopgap measures but essential investments in the sector’s future. They will provide the long-term talent stream the sector needs, while bringing people up to date with the latest technological changes.

These sorts of training opportunities, especially when sponsored by a company can be incredibly valuable to young people and ex-military personnel who may need that skills boost before coming into a specialised role in the sector.

Alongside a robust training and development scheme, it’s crucial to articulate clear career advancement pathways within FM. The whole of the sector needs to work together to share case studies on FM careers, communicate better on transferable skills, indicate the other sectors people have entered FM from and encourage people towards industry standard qualifications which have a demonstrative career benefit. This not only aids retention but also makes FM careers more attractive to prospective talent.

Finally, the FM sector must re-evaluate its recruitment strategies. Partnerships with external recruiters can sometimes be undervalued, the approach being to find the cheapest supplier, rather than assessing the value of the service provided and measuring impact with a more partner-based approach. It is important to analyse the lost value to the business of unfilled roles. Having a more engaged supplier to fill roles more efficiently can streamline the hiring process and ensure a higher return on investment through the acquisition of quality talent.

There is a continued need to review and adapt recruitment and retention processes to the current market to combat the skills shortage in the sector. By investing in education, embracing technology, and fostering a more inclusive and progressive workplace culture, the FM sector can build a robust, skilled workforce for the future. 


Many people want to work for an organisation that aligns with their personal and professional goals. Investing in training schemes, developing social value initiatives, and prioritising stakeholder voices are a strong foundation for recruitment.

Prioritising people is important for improving recruitment, no matter what sector you operate in. By doing so, teams have access to the best support and resources, enabling them to work in an environment that encourages innovation and promotes productivity.

We have implemented support for our teams across the business in various ways. Most recently, the business transitioned into an Employee-Owned Trust (EOT). This enables a company to become owned by its employees. Becoming an EOT can enable greater cohesion between employees and the organisation at large and encourage involvement in the future of the business.

EOTs do not involve direct share ownership by employees, rather a controlling interest in the company is transferred to an all-employee trust which is then held for the benefit of employees. The senior leadership can continue to manage and guide the company to ensure its long-term viability.

EOTs have numerous benefits for employees to develop in their roles, engage with the organisation they effectively help run, and help the business flourish. Our transition to an EOT has been good and is very popular amongst our employees despite only being in the early days of the transition. This will continue to have a positive impact on our employee retention and recruitment.

In the FM industry, cleaning operatives can be a “hidden workforce”, and many find themselves stuck in unskilled roles that offer little career progression. There needs to be a refocus on training existing talent and offering recruits better development opportunities. Multiple schemes working in tandem can achieve this: for example, mentorship programmes and employee wellbeing schemes give employees the tools to reach their ambitions while supporting their health.

Technological advancements in staff training can also make a company more attractive to potential employees. Traditional training sees employees reading from manuals or sitting in front of a screen, not demonstrating the hands-on nature of a role.

The introduction of technology in training programmes can be an innovative way to improve retention and enhance the training experience. For example, Virtual Reality (VR) systems can provide a fully immersive training platform. We have created a VR programme for cleaning operatives on our rail contracts and the feedback has been extensively positive.

This kind of technology requires significant investment, testing, and review, but has the potential to produce phenomenal results for employee engagement and enthusiasm. Technological investments like this not only innovate the industry but show employees how their needs are being prioritised, incentivising their engagement in their roles and the company. For potential recruits, it demonstrates a clear intent that they will have a chance to develop and thrive.

It’s great to see the positive outlook for the sector; now it’s up to the FM industry to put the processes in place to attract and retain the talent that’s out there. Making positive changes to the structure, training, and even ownership of organisations will address the recruitment shortfall by showing genuine care for employees. 

About Sarah OBeirne

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