The forthcoming challenges during 2021 over the next 12 to 24 months “should not be underestimated” and will be key for businesses in the FM market to plan going forwards, delegates at the annual Workplace Futures conference heard this morning.
Ian Marson, transaction advisory director at professional services firm EY, said: "There are big opportunities, these challenges will be able to be turned into future opportunities, and goals and a route forward for many businesses. But moving early, and moving decisively will be very important."
Marson said confidence within the FM sector had declined and unemployment would get worse later on in the year, due to the government's furlough scheme.
He said: "Businesses are being kept alive under government support at this point in time, and jobs are being kept due to the furlough arrangements. But that is not anticipated to continue long term. In the next year to a year-and-a-half, unemployment is anticipated and forecast to spike quite heavily, but will then come down again, as businesses adapt to the new normal."
Marson said there had been a bounce-back in services, "which was the driver of the recovery over the summer months last year" but that has "now fallen again into negative territory”.
He added: "The key message from here is there has been a double dip, especially in the services, part of the market. And if I move on now, to the next trend that we see, which is the unemployment rates, again, unemployment, over the last few years has been steadily decreasing, it's been a long-term decline until we got into 2020. And as you can see from the right-hand chart, the spike that was caused by Covid has really been very, very prominent, and two different measures whether it's the claimant count for benefits, or whether it's the ILO measure of unemployment, both of these have shown that specific spike. But I think what is really important to point out here is that we are nowhere near the peak of that jump at this particular point in time."
The Workplace Futures conference continues this afternoon.