19 February 2016
So far it has been a very interesting year in FM.
There are a large number of opportunities out there. Confidence is high and every single company I speak with has plans to grow this year; some far more aggressively than others. If the market continues along the same tracks, the larger FM providers - the big four or big five - will become the big one or two.
The last 18 months have seen some major acquisitions in the FM market and as a result, many of the larger companies appear to be, at a senior level anyway, in a period of consolidation. The integration of such large businesses appears to have led to a degree of overlap at mid-senior level and as a result we have seen a few casualties where jobs have been duplicated. This, unsurprisingly, can create a lot of tension within businesses and more often than not one group seems to dominate the other. It has been known to create an "us and them" culture and some mergers over the years have not managed to overcome this. This period of stability with the bigger corporates is welcomed and we have seen no downturn in the lower level roles within these types of companies.
At the other end of the market we have seen a lot more movement. 2016 is going to be a huge year for the smaller FM providers. With the larger companies getting even larger, the gulf between the service providers is ever growing. As the bigger businesses grow, they seek bigger and better contracts, pan-European deals and global deals. Contracts which were once the bread and butter for the large FM providers are now second tier at best. Which company wants to be a second or third tier client? I know I wouldn't want to be, particularly if I was looking to spend £5 million on outsourcing my FM services. This is where the opportunity lies for SMEs and where we will see the aggressive growth. These companies are looking to invest across the board; they want to gear up for the future growth and we have seen a tremendous amount of recruitment so far within this area.
At a more operational level, the market is experiencing a huge skill shortage within engineering. At this time of year in particular, everyone is in the market for good quality commercial gas engineers. This is nothing new, but just further highlights what we come to realise in FM recruitment every single year: there are just not enough engineers coming through the ranks. Indeed, we haveseen an increase in apprenticeship schemes over the past few years, but not enough is being done to get young people into engineering jobs.
The signs are generally positive for a prosperous year for the facilities management industry. I expect there will be a couple more major acquisitions, as well as some very surprising contract awards to companies, which in years gone by may, have not been in the running. A very exciting market to work in, in a very exciting year.
Alex Sutherland, managing director, Ardent 4