The Leading News & Information Service For The Facilities, Workplace & Built Environment Community

Contractor Concerns for Skills Shortage in Hard FM

20 October 2021

Rising costs and a shortage of skilled people are giving building services contractors sleepless nights, according to a new business survey.

Members of the Building Engineering Services Association (BESA) said they were facing “major challenges” due to a combination of rising labour and material costs, growing lead times, shortage of equipment and delivery delays.

Many respondents said they expected the situation to get worse before it gets better, although 80 per cent  said they expected to see growing or stable turnover levels through to the end of the year.

There is a particular shortage of m&e engineers, pipe fitters, plumbers, and service technicians, according to BESA members responding to the quarterly survey, which is carried out in partnership with the Electrical Contractors Association (ECA), the Scottish Electrical Trade Body (SELECT) and the Scottish and Northern Ireland Plumbing Employer’s Federation (SNIPEF).

The survey, which covered the three months from April to June and asked business owners to look ahead at their prospects for the rest of the year, found that small firms are facing particular challenges.


Recruiting the Right People


41 per cent reported problems recruiting the staff they needed to keep projects going. 66 per cent expected the situation to deteriorate during the current quarter and 13 expected the situation to remain the same. However, 32 per cent of survey respondents did say they expected to see some improvement before the end of the year.

One fallout from the current crisis is that many businesses will employ fewer direct staff, agency workers and apprentices over the next six months despite the urgent need to increase the flow of skilled people into the industry.

“That is probably the most worrying message from the survey,” said BESA’s director of legal and commercial Debbie Petford. “We already have a serious skills shortage across construction and related sectors like building engineering, but it seems some employers are reacting by pulling in their recruitment horns.

“This will only serve to build up longer-term shortages. Without a large enough and suitably skilled workforce we will not be able to deliver on the government’s decarbonisation plans or keep the economic recovery on track. This is a global issue and I hope it will be high on the agenda at next month’s COP26 climate conference in Glasgow,” she added.

The Building Engineering Services Association has opened its new online academy delivering a comprehensive programme of training courses, assessments and CPD for individuals, employers and training providers in the building services sector.


Picture: two people looking over a building blueprint.

Article written by Bailey Sparkes | Published 20 October 2021


Related Articles

Fuel and Labour Shortages – CBI Calls for COBR-Style Action 

As the UK experiences supply shortages from labour to CO2 to fuel distribution, the UK’s biggest business group is urging the government to empower...

 Read Full Article
The Staff Shortage Crisis – Recruiting and Retaining Cleaning Staff

Amidst national staff shortages in the UK, cleaners and domestic staff are some of the most in-demand. In the week of 23-29 August, there were a total of 1.66 million...

 Read Full Article
Mechanical Engineering Is Not A UK Job Of Choice

Mechanical Engineering (511,440) is the most Googled job in the world - but not the most Googled job in the UK where people would rather search to become an estate agent...

 Read Full Article
The Importance of Screening and Vetting

Screening and vetting is an essential part of the pre-employment process, Chloe Jehu from Expeditious Services explains how to conduct it correctly. Chloe Jehu is...

 Read Full Article
Heat and Buildings Strategy – Experts Reveal How to Tackle the Skills Shortage

The government’s Heat and Buildings strategy pledged huge investment in heat pump innovation, but how can we re-skill and recruit to make this happen? We spoke...

 Read Full Article
The Future of Energy Management – Q&A With Lord Redesdale

ThisWeekinFM interviews Chair of EMEX, Lord Redesdale, on the future of energy management in the UK. Lord Redesdale co-founded EMEX to promote carbon and energy...

 Read Full Article
The British Antarctic Survey – Is this the Coolest Job in Facilities Management?

Most tend to think of facilities management as a job sector based in hospitals, large office buildings or universities – but some FMs work in the coldest and most...

 Read Full Article
How FMs Can Inspire the Next Generation of Talent

As A-Level results are published, the FM sector has an opportunity to capture the interest of the next generation of young leaders. Elizabeth Smith, Head of People...

 Read Full Article
Post-Furlough Anxiety – Reassuring FMs Returning to Work

Almost half (44 per cent) of furloughed FM professionals are anxious about their return to work, according to recruiter Randstad. A poll of almost 8,000 workers from...

 Read Full Article
Is the Use of AI in the Workplace Ethical?

A report by the Trades Union Congress says new protections are “urgently needed” to regulate the use of AI in workplaces. AI can be utilised by employers...

 Read Full Article