The Facility Management Talent Shortage: The Industry Responds

February 16, 2023

Our recent white paper focused on facility management staffing and the potential shortage in talent.  It’s a hot topic within the industry.  While the number of available positions in the industry is growing, and appears it will grow in the future, there is increased concern about attracting new staff to address employer demand and replace retiring workers.  

As quick background, labor statistics indicate that while employment in the broader economy has grown about 0.6 percent a year since 2000, a number of key roles within facility management are growing faster.  The Bureau of Labor Statistics also predicts 10 percent growth in real estate and property managers through 2026, which outpaces the broader economy.

The average age in facility management is 51 years, with industry associations citing a “critical shortfall” in talent.

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There are a number of industry responses to this issue including enhanced training and modernizing the workplace with technology.  Our white paper highlighted one talent development program supported by the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) and BOMA Chair Brian Cappelli, called Careers Building Communities, which seeks to connect job seekers with positions in their communities.

In addition, we’ve  learned about a few other great programs:

  • * - San Bernardino County and Chaffey College Program: Working with IFMA, Chaffee / SBC developed a program to train facility managers, driven in large part by the nearby talent shortage a (one article cited 3,200 facility management job openings in the area, with only 30 qualified applicants).
  • * - Stacks and Joules: Specifically, this program provides training on building automation systems (BAS) and controls engineering. As we discussed in a previous MACH blog comparing them to energy management software, BAS are products that control complex systems like heating, ventilation, air conditioning (HVAC), lighting etc.
  • * - Johnson Controls (JCI): JCI is teaming up with a nationwide specialized training provider to open 10 sites within existing Lincoln Tech locations that are focused on HVAC and electrical training.  While the initiative is focused on helping JCI recruit and train staff, it also will improve the overall number of people entering this industry.
  • * - Universities and Colleges:  We note in the white paper that some universities are adding facility management courses to supplement more general engineering programs.

In addition to training programs, modern, often mobile operating technology in buildings may also play a role in reducing the impact of this shortage of facility management talent.  The white paper highlighted a few key conclusions:

  • * - Adopting technology can act as a “force multiplier” that helps staff get more done. For example, some help desks for tenants and occupants are no longer physical locations, but remote and virtual. This reduces the overall staffing needs while providing the same level of service
  • * - Sustainability - for many potential employees, employers demonstrating a desire to build operate sustainably can be appealing.  Energy Star for buildings in particular is well known and free.  Energy Star for Tenants will be another option as it is rolled out.  
  • * - As buildings become more technology-enabled, and more focused on delivering a productive and differentiated environment, the increased deployment of modern technology will have cascading effects. Using tools like enterprise energy management software and tenant billing software combined with data driven operations in the building, firms and staffs will realize significant efficiencies.  
  • This will likely change the typical roles of facility managers and drive more prospective employees to consider the field.  This was confirmed by Able Engineering’s head of recruiting, “We have some clients with very high tech buildings and the younger engineering talent, in particular, wants to go
  • there.”
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