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How to stop the FM demographic time bomb from ticking

Without question, one of the hottest topics within the facilities management industry today is how to address the gap in skills that will appear over the next ten years. The problem commonly referred to as the ‘demographic time bomb’ has been highlighted in the survey findings presented by BIFM below.


56 per cent of respondents were born between 1946 and 1964 (indicating that they are currently between the ages of 48-66)

52 per cent of respondents said they aimed to retire between the ages of 55 and 65

48 per cent of those people currently practising are aged over 45 (according to research conducted by Asset Skills)

These findings, and recent articles such as BIFM’s, The Time Bomb Debate and FM World’s The Ticking Bomb, have brought to the surface what some in the FM industry had realised for some time. There are not enough new entrants into the sector to ensure a continuous transference of skills, and in the next ten years, as those practising start to retire, we will be left with less experienced people in facilities management roles.

What can be done to defuse the bomb? One of the first hurdles to overcome is that facilities management as an industry encompasses such a wide spectrum of activity and skills, it’s hard to resolve the problem with a one-size-fits-all approach. However, there are steps that employers can take to address the shortfall, one being to make careers in facilities management appealing to future generations.

What can employers do?

  • Offer training and development opportunities that are valued
  • Make an increased effort to raise awareness of FM as a career option
  • Work with industry bodies to highlight the benefits of FM as a long-term career option
  • Positively and openly support 'Rising FM' and 'Asses Skills' to encourage careers in FM

Being more specific, technology can be instrumental in passing on the wealth of information and knowledge that exists within FM practitioners today. In particular, when delivering hard services to clients, it can act as a conduit to promote, record and share examples of best practice behaviours and methods.

What can technology do?

  • Help to make field based, task-driven employees not only more efficient but also more effective
  • Aid the application of intelligent thinking to scheduling resources – stratifying a workforce so that skill levels are matched to job requirements and enabling the use of scarce, highly skilled workers more appropriately
  • Support workforces in their delivery of service excellence using intelligent workflow technologies to prompt correct action and reaction based on real-time data and by providing mobile access to key job information e.g. customer details and technical documentation

Technology can also affect an organisations’ appeal to GenY; an organisation can seem more modern, innovative, forward thinking and dynamic through their use of technology - appealing to new graduates and those who aspire to achieve exceptional careers

We’d be keen to hear how you are addressing this challenge, please share your best practice advice with fellow FM professionals by commenting below.

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