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How FMs Can Inspire the Next Generation of Talent

How FMs Can Inspire the Next Generation of Talent
11 August 2021 | Updated 03 September 2021

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 & Culture at Expeditious Services, looks at how careers within facilities management can be better promoted to young people.

Elizabeth has worked for the business since 2019, joining the company to conduct screening and vetting, and her role now expanding to manage all of People Services for our Security Officer Division. Elizabeth is also heading up a new recruitment arm to Expeditious Services; A2R Personnel. She is putting her CIPD Level 5 and years in the HR & recruitment industry into practice to support the FM, Healthcare and Agricultural sectors in finding skilled workers on demand.



Picture: a photograph of Elizabeth Smith


A Fast-Growing and Diverse Sector


Summer term has ended, and whilst it may not be the normal graduation or leavers ceremonies this year, it is still a time when many young people are considering their career steps. Whether they are leaving school, university, or college, now is the perfect time for the FM sector to be ready to capture the hearts and minds of the next generation of employees and young leaders.

Now more than ever, it is important for the industry to be encouraging and inspiring the younger generations in considering FM as a viable and fulfilling career option. Currently, the demographics within the sector are an ageing time-bomb, as many of the industry leaders are set to retire within the next 5-10 years and this is likely to have been catalysed by the impact of COVID.


"The facilities management industry, companies and their service providers need to make focused efforts to attract the next generation of talent. This is not only crucial for the workforce now but prevent a potential ageing leadership crisis and significant labour shortage in the future."


Facilities management is one of the fastest-growing and most diverse sectors to work in, with roles to suit any kind of young person looking to start their career. But how do we use this diversity and growth to fuel a steady wave of entry-level employees, who are primed to work their way up in the industry, in the same way as their (soon to be retiring) predecessors?

Some ideas I am currently exploring within my role of Head of People & Culture are:


1. Reputation


If you ask most people what FM is, the majority are likely to have not heard of it before. This is obviously a huge barrier in people knowing it is a viable career choice. As a sector, we should be doing more to work with schools and colleges to help young people understand what the sector is, the incredible range of jobs within it and the opportunities which can come from those – both in career and benefits. Hosting or getting involved in careers fairs, open days, jobs fairs or FM creating their own exhibitions to showcase the sector in its best light could be hugely impactful.

There’s unending potential for a varied and thriving career within FM and presently, very few young people even know about it.


2. Training Opportunities


One entry point to facilities management is when young people are applying for qualifications, particularly university or college. Flicking through a prospectus, browsing the range of courses on offer can sometimes inspire career lightbulbs “THIS is what I want to do!”.

It is fantastic to see direct routes into FM increasing. The University of Bolton is newly offering an FM Degree Apprenticeship, and University of Central Lancashire offers an FM Degree. There is also an expanding range of opportunities becoming available in vocations which support the FM sector, such as Student Services Cyber Resilience Centres, who focus on developing the pipeline of talent in cybersecurity.

Opportunities within FM are growing in number, and the range of these opportunities is vast to reflect the variety of roles available (not just a business or degree focused, vocational too), but more needs to be done to drive awareness and attractiveness of these qualifications.


3. Values and Alignment


Unlike previous generations, young people are seeking a job that not only pays the bills but offers an element of employee engagement. In a recent study by People Management, they found 76 per cent of respondents to a survey saw health and wellbeing initiatives as a deciding factor in joining a company. Other important considerations are their commitment to looking after employee mental health, feeling empowered in their role, varied work with job security, being a part of a diverse workforce, good pay, and commitment to looking after the environment.

Already, I am working hard with my team to develop a package of desirable benefits for team members of all levels. We are an accredited Living Wage Employer, working towards paying our employees and working with a supply chain that pays a fair wage.

If the facilities management sector wants to thrive in the modern age, it must embrace aligning its company values with what is important to their teams. It is one thing recruiting and training people, but it is a very different thing retaining them, and strong company values are one way to do this.


4. Mentoring


Continual training and career development is great but supporting this with effective mentorship is even more powerful. Particularly as a huge wealth of knowledge within the current industry leaders will soon to be retiring with them. Now is the prime time to be passing it on, truly nurturing and inspiring the next generation, not just to fill the skill gaps at the bottom of the career ladder but maintain that positive trajectory within the sector.

Whilst the current leaders will have the sector and business experience to pass on, the younger generations will come armed with questions to challenge how things are done, where they can be done better, driving positive action-focused conversations, and shaking up the industry for good. Mentoring helps to shape the careers of the leaders of tomorrow and critical to the future of the FM industry.

The facilities management industry, companies and their service providers need to make focused efforts to attract the next generation of talent. This is not only crucial for the workforce now but prevent a potential ageing leadership crisis and significant labour shortage in the future.

Read our ideas for attracting the next generation of talent into the security industry specifically, HERE.

Picture: a photograph of two students working at a desk, one is wearing headphones

Article written by Elizabeth Smith | Published 11 August 2021


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