Filling skill gap in Facilities Management sector

fmME discusses the skill gaps often found in Facilities Management candidates applying for jobs

Michel Theriault is a president of Strategic Advisor FM Consulting.
Michel Theriault is a president of Strategic Advisor FM Consulting.

I recently held a Program Advisory Committee (PAC) meeting for the Certificate in Facility Management at Ryerson University in Canada, for which I am the Academic Coordinator. It is a continuing education programme for people in the facility management industry to develop and upgrade their skills.

Based on guidelines set forth by the International Facility Management Association, the certification programme is ideal for those either looking to enter the industry for the first time, as well as experience veterans hoping to expand their capabilities.

The PAC was formed for a programme review to identify changes that should be made in the course offerings and curriculum.

Part of the meeting included a round table on the skills and training needed in FM and the skills gaps that they find in facility management candidates applying for jobs and even with existing employees.

The participants were all highly experienced in senior roles within the broader facility management sector, including from the tenant side, owner/occupier and even commercial property management as well as a design/project manager who works with FM’s constantly and a job search executive who works with both candidates and hiring managers in the facilities industry.

I was surprised to find that they talked about soft skills almost exclusively. Technical skills were not where their concerns were. Instead, they highlighted other common gaps where they felt facility managers need to improve.

These included the inability to influence others, the lack of skills in developing business cases, as well as a lack of clear understanding in the event of a change of management. Additional worries included poor communication skills, limited capabilities in terms of managing subcontract services, and finally, the inability to procure and properly assess bids.

The only real technical related skills gap was lack of general understanding of how building systems work. This was interesting, since even with this gap, they were generally only looking for high level skills, not detailed technical knowledge a technician or engineer may have.

This mirrors my own experience when I meet with successful facility managers at various levels. They are successful either because of their advancement to higher positions or because they have a well-run facility organisation that is, for the most part, doing all the right things.

With these successful facility managers, the common skills and attributes they seem to have are their business skills, which mirror the gaps my committee identified. Some don’t even come from a technical background at all, they are simply excellent managers, leaders and bosses and provide the guidance and support necessary to the experts in their groups.

For individuals, filling the skills gap can provide career advancement. For the industry, filling these gaps will help improve the image of FM within the companies we serve.

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