Mind the skills gap

Our profession is experiencing a significant and growing skills shortage due to the sector’s substantial growth over the last 30 years, a lack of applicants with the right skillsets, and demographic changes. Whilst migration should not be seen as a long- term fix to deal with skills shortages, Freedom of Movement for European Economic Area (EEA) nationals has helped to mitigate the problem for the FM sector.

Currently, in certain parts of the profession, up to 24% of the workforce comes from the EU and for some organisations in specific roles and locations this reaches 34%. EEA nationals work across the skills spectrum of workplace and facilities management, from highly qualified business leaders through middle management to lower-skilled, but nonetheless valued, positions. 

There has already been a decrease in immigration from the EU due to the lack of certainty since the referendum in 2016. We are therefore deeply concerned about continued access to labour markets, including EEA workers, after the UK’s planned departure from the EU. Our strongly-held view is that our profession, as well as the wider UK economy, needs an evidence-based and flexible migration policy to allow access to the appropriate levels of labour from the EU and beyond in order to alleviate the skills gap and be better placed to fulfil its potential. At the same time, this does not negate our profession’s responsibility to invest in upskilling and attracting new talent.

EU migrants currently working in the UK and their families are required to apply to continue living in the UK after Brexit under the EU Settlement Scheme by 30 June 2021. If ‘no deal’ occurs, applications can be made only until 30 June 2020. Our guide to Brexit and immigration (see link below) provides a summary of what leaving the European Union means for employers and their EU workers.

The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) is an independent, non-statutory public body that advises the Government on migration issues. Its recommendations led to the Government announcing its post Brexit immigration policy. Proposals included ending the free movement of people from the EU and the introduction of an Australian-style points-based system with restrictions of low-skilled immigration. If introduced, these measures both will have significant implications for workplace and facilities management recruitment across different skills levels and specialisms.

We have engaged with Government on its post-Brexit migration policy and put forward our recommendations to the MAC and other political stakeholders in our Position Paper on Migration (see link below). IWFM will continue to lobby Government in this area.

To help our profession deal with the challenges of the skills shortage we are also engaging across several other policy areas including education, employment and technology. We believe that the skills gap requires such a cross policy, holistic approach in order to find the appropriate solutions. In addition, we are working with key strategic partners on a Career of Choice campaign which will seek to promote workplace and facilities management as a career of choice to a range of new audiences and groups.


Position Paper on Migration (published by BIFM which became IWFM in Nov 2018)
Brexit and immigration - a useful guide for IWFM members
UK migration policy post Brexit making the case for FM