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10 February 2017 | Updated 01 January 1970

The January FMCentral event at the Silverstone’s Formula One Circuit focused on Recruitment and Skills Development in the FM Sector; an issue that nearly every company has to deal with.

With no trade association or sector skills council in existence for the FM sector, there is no single defined place to go for impartial and independent advice and guidance.

Recruitment and skills development often occupy the same space in discussions around how best to manage talent within the workplace. HR managers weigh up the pros and cons of when to recruit versus when to train and promote internally; often with a mixture of both approaches appearing in HR strategies.

I run Spaghetti Junction, an education services provider and we have recently formed a partnership with Morgan Hunt recruitment for the education, public and FM sectors. This partnership positions Morgan Hunt as our official Recruitment Partner; and Spaghetti Junction as their Education and Skills Partner - allowing us to each stick to our areas of specialism so our clients get the best advice and support.


Why the problem?

The varied nature and skills requirements of the FM sector mean that it provides great opportunities for people from all backgrounds; and that is true for the most junior to senior positions too. Yet our clients and colleagues repeatedly cite the troubles they have recruiting people to their vacancies who have the right skills, aptitude and attitude. So why is this?

FM has suffered an image problem for a long time; the number of jobs that exist in FM are so varied that it’s difficult to capture them and define what FM actually is. Government also struggles to understand what FM is; it does not collect data on the number of workers or businesses in the sector, consequently it does not appear as a priority on any national or local industrial and investment strategies.

At the younger end of the spectrum the mind boggling decision to cut budgets for careers advisors within schools several years ago means that young people miss the opportunities that exist because they simply do not know about them – unless a member of their family already works in the sector.

The result of this is that older and younger workers don’t know about it until they ‘fall’ into jobs within FM. And when they do get there, there are no clearly defined progression routes for FM as there are for other sectors.

For those that do enter in some of the more ‘hands on’, less attractive positions, it is hard to visualise how you can progress and to know what skills and qualifications are needed to get there. A consequence of this is that the workforce is extremely transient and will often move to another FM company for an extra 20p or 30p an hour.



Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) - TUPE also brings in other elements of transience within the workforce - as contracts are won and lost, their workforce moves with them.


Spaghetti Junction

At Spaghetti Junction we’re helping companies set out clear development pathways within their business and sourcing the best training provision that allows their people to develop and gain new skills to allow them to progress.



We chose to partner with Morgan Hunt because they have a strong track record of successfully recruiting into the sector. Chris Wimshurst, Education Board Director at Morgan Hunt, gave a presentation at the event as to how FM companies can get the best from their relationships with recruitment agencies. Chris spoke about the uniqueness of the FM sector and reiterated that the transient nature of the workforce, and the lack of clearly defined career progression routes, presents challenges for HR managers.

He highlighted the different approaches that their existing FM client base have adopted; from issuing Preferred Supplier Lists, operating a Managed Service Provider model or selecting a Neutral Vendor. For the most senior positions they are called upon to Head Hunt the very best in the sector.

Chris stated the pros and cons of each approach but insisted that the recruitment solution should be tailored to the individual needs of a business and should be evaluated on available resource, desired control over time, cost, brand representation and long term strategy. He stated that Preferred Supplier Lists are the easiest to implement but give the least amount of control over time, cost savings and representation in the market for a client. From their experience the most progressive organisations are thinking about how they are represented in the market and are looking to build a consistent brand and as such operate a Managed Service Provider model. This is a clearly defined solution which has partnership at its core and gives the greatest time and cost savings. Whichever approach is taken, organisations who adopt these solutions need a business wide commitment to the strategy.

To summarise, Chris said that when choosing a recruitment agency to work you need to:

  • Consider whether you want to appoint a generic or boutique agency, (as their approaches will differ significantly).

  • Research the company and consultant – website and LinkedIn.

  • Give a trial project, and finally.

  • Ensure you meet them.


The second part of the presentation was delivered by my Spaghetti Junction colleague Gavin Deane. Gavin set out the key facts about the new Apprenticeship Levy that comes into force in April 2017. The introduction of the levy sets a new direction for government as it moves from encouraging businesses to invest in the skills development of their workforce, to making it law. All public and private employers with a pay bill of over £3 million will be subject to the Levy, contributing 0.5 percent of their payroll. Contributing employers will receive an allowance of £15,000 to offset their levy.


Going to the Levy?

At Spaghetti Junction we have designed a specialist, fully-managed, levy service supporting companies through the complexities of this, together with the other skills funding policies. Gavin also spoke about our experiences with customers to date within the FM sector.

Companies paying the levy can draw down the funds though their Digital Apprenticeship Service (DAS), once they have selected which apprenticeship(s) they want to do, and which provider(s) they wish to use.

Training providers are now having to be more employer responsive then ever before, as they cannot access the funds in the DAS unless the employer has specified that provider to deliver them – and at a cost that is mutually agreeable.

Whilst there has been much protest from companies and providers about the levy, it’s still coming and we need to be prepared. It does present a huge opportunity for companies in the FM sector to review their talent management strategies; to decide how their levy can be used to significantly upskill their existing workforce; and/or when to recruit new young people so desperately needed in this sector. The levy can be used for apprentices of all ages too, not just the traditional young people we associate with the apprenticeship brand. This provides companies with a chance to train people who wish to move from one part of the business to another


Come along

At FMCentral events we carefully select topics for discussion that are pertinent to the FM sector. Through our surveys and business engagement we identify FM challenging locations and expert speakers who can deliver an informed presentation to our delegates.

Our next event is on 22nd March 2017 and will be held at The Snow Centre, Hemel Hempstead. Delegates have asked for a presentation on the forthcoming changes to the Data Protection Act and we in the process of securing an expert speaker on the subject who will set out the requirements for FM businesses.

If you’d like to attend, or invite colleagues along, click for the booking form

Article written by Sarah Bentley | Published 10 February 2017


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