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Make way for Gen Z

15 November 2023

Is FM doing enough to attract younger workers, asks Amanda Vlietstra?

Facilities management is an ageing industry. The current average age of a facilities manager is 49, according to a recent report by the FMA (Facilities Management Association), and with the talent crisis already resulting in high numbers of unfilled vacancies, the perception of FM as an ‘old boys’ club’ is unlikely to help attract young talent into the industry.

As those who work within facilities management already know, it’s an exciting and dynamic industry that offers candidates the opportunity to take their careers in all sorts of different directions, from operational roles to human resources to the C-suite. It is an industry that is driving – and thriving on – technological innovation. However, one of the problems FM has always faced is its lack of visibility. Much of its work is behind the scenes, and despite some of the main names being multi-billion global players, it doesn’t attract ambitious graduates at the ‘milkround’ stage in the same way that the likes of KPMG, JP Morgan or the banks do.

One way of addressing this is for key FM representatives to visit schools and educate students on what the FM sector is all about – something that some companies are already looking into. Apprenticeships are another way of onboarding young people into the industry, enabling them to learn the skills while earning money at the same time – but this isn’t without its own challenges, namely that there’s a lack of specifically FM-focused apprenticeships available. Additionally, many training budgets are allocated to upskilling existing staff rather than recruiting new apprentices. 

Industry programmes

Another, parallel way of getting young people into the industry is through specific industry-run programmes – such as the IWFM’s ‘Our Career of Choice’; the IWFM have teamed up with education consultancy Class of Your Own to offer tailored advice and guidance to engage young people and encourage them to explore the many pathways into the profession. 

FM companies, too, have developed their own pathways for supporting ambitious young people through a career in FM. Paul Bensley, Kärcher’s Sales Director for the UK Professional Business, said that Kärcher foresaw several years ago that engineering professionals were ageing out of the industry, so introduced their own robust apprenticeship scheme. As a result, he says, Kärcher is less exposed to skills shortages than the rest of the sector. 

And, talking to PR, Glenn Steed, Associate Director and CBRE Account Director at PRS Facilities said: “One of our biggest clients, CBRE, is really good at supporting people who are career hungry. There is a fantastic career path available at CBRE, they often take on people from a non-technical background and train them up. They offer exceptional training programmes.”


Companies that are looking to attract young talent also need to ensure that they are values-driven; gone are the days when the size of the salary was all any recruiter needed to worry about. Deloitte’s Global Gen Z (born between 1996 and 2012) and Millennial (born 1981 to 1995) survey, which gathered feedback from 14,483 Gen Z and 8,373 millennial respondents across 44 countries, found that nearly four in 10 (44% of Gen Zs and 37% of Millennials) say they have rejected assignments due to ethical concerns, while 39% and 34%, respectively, have turned down employers that do not align with their values.  

76% of workers also want flexible hours, and this is a growing expectation among younger workers, despite recent research suggesting that CEOs expect a full return-to-office by 2026. Work-life balance, and a focus on diversity, equity and inclusion are also vital; the good news is that the Deloitte survey found that around a third of Gen Zs and millennials in full- or part-time work say they are very satisfied with their work/life balance, compared to only one in five in 2019. Satisfaction with diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts has also increased. DEI is growing in importance within the FM sector; Mitie is among the organisations introducing measures to ensure that diversity is among its core values, as can be seen on p29. 

Companies looking to attract younger talent would be wise to consider whether their offering matches the expectations of the talent they hope to recruit. The workplace is evolving, and FM is evolving too – the question is: is it evolving quickly enough?

Image: Shutterstock

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