UK facilities management sector shows cautious optimism despite uncertainty
07-03-17 9:16 BIFM
The British Institute of Facilities Management (BIFM), the professional body for facilities management, has today (Tue) launched the findings from its Facilities Management Business Confidence Monitor 2017, in partnership with i-FM and Barclays.
The survey of professionals from the facilities management sector in the UK found that 62 per cent describe the facilities management business environment as ‘positive’ or ‘very positive’ (the same as 2016). When asked how they perceived the market to change over the next 12 months, 40 per cent expect it to improve, while the majority at just over half, 51 per cent, expected it to remain the same, with only 8 per cent believing it will deteriorate.
With the facilities management sector estimated to be worth £121.8 billion a year to the UK economy (Mintel, 2016), the FM Business Confidence Monitor offers a meaningful insight into perceived business performance in the UK marketplace as a whole.
Specific areas of concern were highlighted, with uncertainty still attributed to the effects that Brexit may have on market conditions. Twenty-seven per cent describe the impact of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU as ‘positive’ or ‘very positive’ but just over half, 52 per cent, indicated that they believe Brexit will have ‘negative’ or ‘very negative’ impact. It is hoped that the UK’s position will be further clarified over the coming months as specific elements of the Brexit arrangements are finalised.
At present, 57 per cent of respondents stated that the economy will continue to be the biggest challenge to operational performance above the second highest factor of ‘competition in the market’ (45 per cent) or ‘recruiting/retaining staff’ (23 per cent) or skills shortages (22 per cent).
Addressing this point on skills, 85 per cent of respondents to the Business Confidence Monitor survey thought that the Apprenticeship Levy would offer a ‘very positive’, ‘positive’ or ‘satisfactory’ solution in bringing new talent to the sector.
Linda Hausmanis, Acting Chief Executive at BIFM, said: “Since the last report, there of course have been substantial political and external challenges within the UK market, which the FM sector and wider business world must now embrace. However, despite this uncertainty the outlook for 2017 remains cautiously optimistic with some indicative trends which show a lowering of expectations.
“With the introduction of the Apprenticeship Levy next month, it is particularly encouraging to see the sector willing to embrace Apprenticeships.”
Nicki Thomson, Head of Business Services at Barclays, said:
“This year’s survey provides an up-to-date view on the outlook for 2017, enabling us to better understand what the next 12 months have in store for this vital sector and the people that work within it.
“It is pleasing to see that more than half of survey respondents think the Apprenticeship Levy will have a very positive or positive impact on bringing new talent into the FM sector. With the skills shortage a key topic of conversation, apprenticeship schemes offer a lifeline to businesses looking to train and develop new staff from the ground up.”
Simon Iatrou, Editor at i-fm.net, said: “We believe that this survey forms one of the most important pieces of research in the FM calendar. By measuring confidence levels in FM it is possible to get a more comprehensive picture of trends and concerns for the year ahead as well as a window into the wider economy.
"How facilities businesses plan to invest in technology stands out in this year’s survey. It is particularly encouraging to see that 54% of respondents expect to invest in measuring and reporting software. This shows that the FM sector understands data’s central role in improving services and overall organisational performance.”
Read more about the UK Facilities Management Business Confidence Mointor here.