The British Institute of Facilities Management (BIFM), the professional body for facilities management (FM), has launched the findings from its Facilities Management Business Confidence Monitor 2017 in partnership with i-FM and Barclays.
The survey of professionals from the FM sector in the UK finds that 62% describe the FM business environment as ‘Positive’ or ‘Very Positive’ (the same result that was recorded in 2016). When asked how they perceived the market to change over the next 12 months, 40% expect it to improve, while the majority at just over half (51%) expect it to remain the same, with only 8% believing it will deteriorate.
With the FM sector estimated to be worth £121.8 billion per annum to the UK’s economy, the FM Business Confidence Monitor offers a meaningful insight into perceived business performance in the UK marketplace as a whole.
Specific areas of concern are highlighted in the report, with uncertainty still attributed to the effects that Brexit may have on market conditions. 27% describe the impact of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU as ‘Positive’ or ‘Very Positive’, but just over half (52%) indicated that they believe Brexit will have a ‘Negative’ or ‘Very Negative’ impact.
It’s hoped that the UK’s position will be further clarified over the coming months as specific elements of the Brexit arrangements are finalised.
Focus on the economy
At present, 57% of respondents state that the economy will continue to be the biggest challenge to operational performance. That’s above the second highest factor of ‘Competition in the Market’ (45%) followed by ‘Recruiting/Retaining Staff’ (23%) or ‘Skills Shortages’ (22%).
Addressing this point on skills, 85% of respondents to the Business Confidence Monitor survey believe that the Apprenticeship Levy will offer a ‘Very Positive’, ‘Positive’ or ‘Satisfactory’ solution when it comes to bringing new talent to the sector.
Political and external challenges
Linda Hausmanis, acting CEO at the BIFM, said: “Since the last report, there have of course 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 showing a lowering of expectations.”
Hausmanis added: “With the introduction of the Apprenticeship Levy next month, it’s particularly encouraging to see the sector willing to embrace apprenticeships.”
Nicki Thomson, head of business services at Barclays, stated: “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’s pleasing to see that more than half of the 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 for those businesses looking to train and develop new staff from the ground up.”