Solving the skilled labor shortage by creating opportunity

The number one challenge facing Facility Management (FM) today is not the pandemic, climate change, or the ‘PropTech’ revolution. We are witnessing an expanding fault line in the foundation of our industry – a shrinking pipeline for talent. People with the skills needed to maintain the buildings of the future.

The skilled labor shortage has been well documented. There are simply fewer workers going into skilled trades than in decades past. Whether it is the allure of emerging fields or influenced by a change in educational policy, the traditional pipeline appears to be growing narrower. Combined with the ‘Gray Wave’ of Baby Boomers retiring, the Facility Management industry is about to have a crisis.

For example, the National Electrical Contractors Association reported that on average 10,000 electricians retire each year while only 7,000 new electricians enter the field. The Facility Management industry which relies on skilled trades is facing a dual challenge. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, FM has a projected job growth rate of 6-11% by 2029. Yet, it is estimated that 50% of today's FM workforce will be retiring in the next decade.


What can we do as leaders?

We can reframe the problem to focus on opportunity.

Today, only 18.2% of Facility Managers self-report as female and 28.4% self-report as being from underrepresented minorities according to the US Census Bureau. There is a clear opportunity to recruit from new pools of talent.

Nancy Arnett, Senior Vice President of Business Improvement and Growth Support, has been studying FM talent trends for Sodexo. The future of Facility Management rests on our ability to not only build the box but to see outside of it. The industry needs to invest in training, apprenticeships, reskilling, and recruiting from new communities to ensure that we can meet the needs of tomorrow.

Facility Management talent sourcing isn't a one-size-fits-all model. We need to expand our ideas of who is a Facility Manager. Seek to identify talent both in and out of traditional technical degree programs as well as from underserved communities. You never know where the next big idea could come from, said Arnett.

There is one thing that is certain – Working with diversity, equity, and inclusion in mind will benefit all. Together as an industry, we can turn a crisis into an opportunity.

May 14, 2021

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