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How to attract the best talent

26 May 2023

Three organisations in the FM sector shared their recruitment and retention strategies with PFM

Organisations who want to attract and retain the best candidates in a tight, competitive labour market have to think outside the box and be much more innovative with their talent strategies than may have been the case in the past. We talked to three companies in the fire, security and catering sectors about what they’re doing to stand out from the crowd and position themselves as go-to FM employers…

“We are passionate about nurturing talent”
Kirsty Brooks, Director of Employee Experience and Development at Chubb Fire and Security
"The Fire and Security industry has found recruitment challenging, even before the pandemic. However, last summer, Chubb decided to address the skills shortage head-on and turn the great resignation into an opportunity by launching the Accelerated Development Programme.
"The Accelerated Development Programme is an 18-week, fast-track certified course that gives people the knowledge, skills, and behaviours they need to start as a fire or security engineer.

"The training programme is fully funded by Chubb and has been designed as a gateway for those who may or may not have previous engineering experience. Together with Training 2000, a highly experienced adult training provider, Chubb has created a ‘Chubb university’ experience. Our purpose-built classroom in Blackburn is where our new engineers will study theory and get hands-on with practical sessions. This blended approach covers a rich mix of topics, including industry regulations, the importance of manual handling, health and safety, carrying out and reporting on risk assessments, and how to isolate electrical supplies safely.
"There are also modules in fire detection, emergency lighting, and the installation and maintenance of systems. On top of that, we are training our engineers to be product agnostic, which supports our belief in providing our customers with the best choice and control over the fire and security solutions on their premises. We have taken a thorough approach to the curriculum because we want our engineers to manage the whole process end-to-end when they are out in the field.
"The structure of assessment and achievement follows our internal competency matrix. The trainees are assessed on theory and practical work in the classroom, evaluated in the field by their experienced mentor, and through written exams. 

"Our first cohort of 12 started the fire training pathway at the beginning of September 2022, and earlier this year, they graduated with a Level 3 BTEC qualification, further strengthening our nationwide network of over 900 engineers. 
"During the 18 weeks of the course, each engineer will have built a portfolio of work and gained strong pastoral care from their regional teams, which enables them to confidently get out into the field and start protecting their customers.

"We are passionate about nurturing talent, and our people-first ethos provides a supportive environment for people to grow and develop. There are clear pathways for our people to achieve other qualifications, all the way up to Level 6, the equivalent of a university degree.
"We have recently inducted our next 12 engineers, this time focusing on becoming security engineers. We aim to recruit 48 new fire and security engineers by September 2023 and provide them with permanent roles across the UK and Ireland. 

"We understand the complexities that Facility Management companies face as intermediaries and integrating agents. Our purpose is to build great leaders to help our FM partners protect their most valuable resources – people, property, and assets. Ultimately, we want to make the world a safer place."
To find out more about the Accelerated Development Programme, please visit

“We believe we can change perceptions of the security industry”
Gary Stanton, Managing Director of privately-owned and purpose-led security services business Atlas Security

"In some quarters, people still have a negative perception of the security industry and the role of a security officer, even though so much has changed for the better over the last 20 years. The truth is that security is a very worthwhile career to get into, not only for upward promotion opportunities but also for the positive personal impact that individuals can make on others.

"At Atlas Security, we believe we can change perceptions and indeed advance the industry as a profession, by doing three things: creating happier working environments; providing attractive benefits packages; and offering professional development through modern training.  

"To measure employee happiness, we run an annual employee happiness survey. This gives us a regular barometer on how we are doing, and helps develop new ways of maintaining Atlas as a great place to work.

"A large part of ensuring our people’s happiness is guaranteeing that the employee remuneration and benefits we provide go above and beyond statutory requirements. To remain at the forefront of the industry, we offer a package that includes private healthcare, life insurance, corporate sick pay, a virtual GP and a wellbeing app which includes retail discounts.

"When it comes to career progression, through the introduction of a bespoke learning and development platform late last year, we are ensuring every team member has the opportunity to grow and learn within their roles. It has been received well by our people, and is proving to be effective in retaining staff. 

"A well-trained, well-remunerated and well-supported workforce is a happier one that will attract others into our profession. Ultimately, as an industry, we need to close the gap between what security officers currently have and what they require to be happier in their roles. This not only supports a company's ability to deliver high-quality services, but in turn attracts higher-quality clients who care more about their suppliers’ welfare."

 “Our focus is to create a more diverse and inclusive environment”
Arran McDowell, People Director at independent hospitality provider BaxterStorey

"Our focus this year is what we can offer culturally, to create a more diverse and inclusive environment for our people to thrive, and to recognise that there is the opportunity to have a long, and successful career within BaxterStorey.

"The uniqueness of hospitality is the ability to evolve and develop your career in any direction you want - an appealing attribute to the new generation entering the workforce who want careers which promote flexibility and variety. 

"We have invested in a new onboarding programme which is integral to welcoming new team members into the business, along with a training academy which provides training for those who want it. Allowing our teams to invest in themselves is non-negotiable. 

"Food is naturally at the heart of what we do, so our new Culinary Arts programme for senior chefs is a jam-packed 12-month vocational course designed to develop skills across everything from financial awareness to essential kitchen skills including fish, pastry, and seasonality, supported with study tours to connect with local suppliers. 

"This ‘hands in the flour approach’ sparks menu innovation and instils pride and passion in the food created, meaning our customers and clients have a memorable experience, and our teams are motivated and engaged. Alongside a focus on service excellence, which will see us launch a new programme later this year, it is this culture which will fuel our retention rates and attract new experts into our business. 

"The industry has many career opportunities that can bring long-term job satisfaction and unique experiences. Hospitality is one of the few industries you can join with little experience, and with the right support and development it can lead to a long and successful highly skilled career."

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