The results of the Q3 2023 RICS Facilities Management Survey points to widespread demand growth over the quarter, although the pace of increase does appear to have cooled somewhat. Over the coming year, sustainability management is anticipated to see the strongest growth relative to all other areas of FM.
Maintenance management has moved up to second spot in the expected growth rankings, overtaking strategic planning and project management for the first time since the survey was formed back in 2020. Displaying a more pessimistic view however, both catering and cleaning remain near the bottom of the expected growth rankings.
Over the last quarter, education and healthcare (as well as the broader public sector), displayed firmly positive demand trends for FM services. Likewise, demand for serviced business space also picked up, even if the net balance of respondents reporting an increase eased to +38 per cent from a much higher reading of +62 per cent last quarter. At the other end of the scale, manufacturing was the only sector in which demand for FM services did not increase, with the latest net balance reading of zero pointing to a flat picture.
Turning to employment trends across the industry, a net balance of +46 per cent of survey participants noted an increase in headcounts during Q3 with the pace of hiring (in net balance terms) remaining very consistent over recent quarters. Looking ahead, a net balance of +38 per cent of contributors anticipate employment levels rising over the next twelve months.
Despite the positive outlook for employment, respondents continue to cite difficulties in finding staff across several areas. Building and maintenance appears most problematic in terms of sourcing suitable skilled workers, with 86 per cent of contributors highlighting troubles filling such roles (up from 70 per cent in the previous quarter and the highest share since the survey was formed in 2020).
Similarly, around two-thirds of respondents’ report encountering difficulties in sourcing workers for roles in support services. At the same time, 52 per cent point to a shortfall in candidates for property management positions.
More encouragingly for the future talent pipeline however, a net balance of +42 per cent of respondents cited an increase in the number of apprenticeships in Q3 (up from just +13 per cent last time). Likewise, a net balance of +42 per cent also reported an increase in resources dedicated to training, while the figure was a little more modest (but still positive) for qualifications at +22 per cent.
With respect to overall workloads across the FM sector, a net balance of +55 per cent of survey participants foresee continued growth over the next twelve months. That said, this reading is more modest in comparison to the figure of +88 per cent returned in the previous iteration of the survey. In terms of expectations for profit margins, the latest net balance reading of -17 per cent suggests profitability will be further squeezed over the year to come, with high inflation across the UK still a critical issue.