Redundancies not high in regional FM sector

Cost of manpower versus high investment cost in advanced technology playing a factor in maintaining trend

MJB Group currently employs approximately 2,500 people, but has stopped hiring for the moment as it focuses on qualitative aspects of its business.
MJB Group currently employs approximately 2,500 people, but has stopped hiring for the moment as it focuses on qualitative aspects of its business.

The impact of automation is being felt across several industries, and facilities management has not been spared.

Experts have not put a number on the steady year-on-year increase in redundancies for the industry that's estimated  to grow to $81.6bn by 2020 (according to MEFMA), but say that the increase in uptake of technology has affected people’s jobs.

Taskgate is a Dubai-based recruitment agency, its general manager Steve Currie said: “From the automation of invoices and job status notifications to the introduction of CRM software, there is no doubt the implementation of various technologies has resulted in redundancies in some areas of business within the FM sector.

“However, the advancement of technology and the ability to utilise it effectively means processes can be streamlined, cost savings can be made and ultimately the customer experience should be improved,” Currie stated.

He also noted that companies are also finding they no longer need full time members of staff for all positions. “So this also results in either job losses or reassignment of staff to meet work demand. Sometimes outsourcing particular roles gives clients that flexibility and scalability they need to manage their workload effectively.

“Companies need to look at new ways of working if they want to remain competitive,” Currie revealed.

Big Fish is another Dubai-based recruitment agency that specialises in hiring talent for the FM sector. Its recruitment director Gary Segesdy said that the debate of using machines versus manpower is getting more interesting.

He said: “Automation and technology were discussed during a recent networking event and the general view was that there is a place for new technology. Especially at larger sites like a mall or airport, where for example, you can see an added number of automated cleaning machines deployed.

While the trend might be one that’s gaining in momentum, Segesdy doesn’t believe it has led to widespread redundancies.

“The FM industry hasn’t witnessed a lot redundancies regionally. This is mainly due to high cost of technology verses the competitive cost of manpower available.

“This may differ in other countries or regions where the cost of labour is considerably higher, making it more cost effective to reduce head count and invest in new technology and automated solutions,” Segesdy added.

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