Real Estate Technology & the Talent Shortage
The talent shortage facing the facility management industry is significant. Industry leaders increasingly recognize the impact it may have on how buildings are operated. This was a popular topic at the annual Realcomm | IBcon event in June.
The industry trends are clear. IFMA reports that their average member age is 50.9 years old. RICS also has written extensively about this topic (with IFMA, in fact) and noted that it has more members that are over the age of 70 than under the age of 30 (see page 10, here). RICS also notes that only 15 percent of its members are under the age of 40. The key headline from all these organizations: the industry needs an influx of new talent. As a local example, in 2016 San Bernardino County had 3,200 open positions and only 32 qualified applicants in the field.
Due to expected growth in the industry, the problem may get worse before it gets better. While it’s hard to find job growth projections specifically for Facilities Management, many of the core roles within the industry are tracked by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). For example, HVACR installers and mechanics are expected to see a 15 percent rise in employment from 2016 to 2026. This is over twice the expected growth for all employment, and installers/mechanics generally. Similarly, property, real estate and community managers, a category that includes a wide range of building types, is expected to grow 10 percent over the same time period. The category for janitors and cleaners is also expected to grow by 10 percent. All of these, and other building and facility roles, are outpacing the broader economy.
While the fast growth in the industry may attract new talent, a number of leading firms and other groups are making their own investments to mitigate the talent shortage. Johnson Controls, for example, has written a white paper on the topic, focuses on hiring military retirees and is investing in technical colleges. Additionally, ABM is funding an effort by the IFMA Foundation to mitigate the growing talent gap. The IFMA foundation is also partnering with California Community Colleges to offer facilities management as a career pathway.
At IBcon 2019, our panel, Building a SMART BUILDING TEAM – Navigating in a Skills Shortage Environment, discussed the state of affairs and also profiled a few innovative firms that are thriving in this talent-short environment. A few of the most notable points included:
- Younger staff want to work in more advanced buildings. Older staff may be more resistant, especially when technology is first deployed. There may be an opportunity to attract new talent with investments in smart buildings (which will also pay off in other ways).
- Panelists noted that they had to get creative to hire staff. In many cases, they tried to describe a type of role that might fit well in building/facility management but wasn’t close enough to it to ensure that staff will naturally apply for jobs. Reinforcing the point above, one panelist mentioned former members of the military making great hires in facility management.
- A key focus is on training. On one hand, staff may realize that training makes them more valuable, which opens up other job opportunities and exacerbates the shortage. But panelists agreed that it is more important to ensure that staff is aware of new tools and technologies to do their jobs.
This all aligns with a recent article in Canada’s Financial Post stating that technology will disrupt the current roles of some workers, but will have the capability to mitigate the impacts of a talent shortage. This is an important industry issue to watch, though there is some good news: the discussion has moved from “Will the tech steal my job?” to “Can technology help make me more efficient and focus on high-value tasks?” This is a step in the right direction.
This Week’s Sponsor
Embracing open software and hardware platforms, Lynxspring develops, manufactures and distributes edge-to-enterprise solutions and IoT technology to create intelligent buildings, better energy management systems, equipment control and specialty machine-to-machine and IoT applications. Lynxspring technologies and solutions simplify connectivity, integration, interoperability, data access and normalization and analytics from the edge to the enterprise. The company’s solutions are deployed in millions of square feet of commercial settings in the United States and internationally. More information about Lynxspring is available at www.lynxspring.com,
Join a unique gathering of Corporate Real Estate and Facilities professionals at CoRE Tech 2019, held Nov. 13-15 at the San Jose Convention Center. For the 10th year, CoRE Tech focuses on groundbreaking automation and technology strategies to help organizations achieve Real Estate business goals. This year's theme, REcalibrate | Using Innovation to Turn Challenges into Opportunities, focuses on why entire organizations need to fully understand the next chapter of the digital revolution—a chapter impacting individual roles and entire companies.
As you REcalibrate, CoRE Tech attendees gain access to:
- Global Industry Experts
- Leading-Edge Learning Programs
- Executive Briefings and Tours in Silicon Valley
- Innovation Showcase of Ground-Breaking Tech Solutions
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UPCOMING REALCOMM WEBINARS
REAL ESTATE INFORMATION MANAGEMENT - Insight, Analytics, Artificial Intelligence and More - 2/4/2020
Data runs almost every aspect of our lives. Making good business decisions as a real estate organization, whether on a small scale or for an enterprise-wide initiative, requires an ever-deeper understanding of individual assets, portfolios and shifting markets. In order to gain this level of information insight in today's complex, connected world, a sound data strategy based on a high-performance blend of business intelligence, analytics and data science, must be set. This webinar will review best practices on developing a comprehensive data architecture, the integration of internal and external data sources, advanced analytics, and how Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning can be applied to these processes. Case studies of Real Estate Companies who leverage data successfully to gain actionable insights will be presented.
Chuck Niswonger has over 30 years of successful leadership experience in technology-related roles that range from operating his own consulting company (www.nicenets.com) to directing the IT strategy of a real estate investment management firm to manufacturing and technology-enabled education. Chuck has also been the chair of the Realcomm Investment Management (IM) Advisory Council for the last ten years, managing content selection for the conference educational sessions, IM forums, workshops and webinars.
Julien Ragbeer is a Data Scientist/Engineer in the IT group of Oxford Properties. He is responsible for some of the machine learning based applications in production, analysis of data workflows and pipelines and proposing the use of scalable and innovative solutions that align with business needs. Julien is a proponent of open source software and initiatives.
Rudy Reagin is the Global Programme Lead for Deutsche Bank's Corporate Services. With more than thirty years of experience in IT, Rudy is currently responsible for the application architecture that supports lease administration, facilities management, space management, security operations, and a wide range of business services. In recent years, Rudy has driven a data warehousing and BI project that successfully integrates information from a range of sources to facilitate performance monitoring and decision support.
Kevin is the Chief Operating Officer of NavigatorCRE and oversees global enterprise engagement.Prior to joining Navigator, Kevin’s 16-year career includes positions at Deloitte, EY, and Morgan Stanley. Most recently he served as a Global Technology Strategy Lead at Deloitte, advising real estate developers, operators, and investors, with clients across 4 continents. Kevin is recognized as one of the leading commercial real estate tech executives in the industry and a noted speaker, author and blogger within the growing Proptech sector. He has spoken at conferences around the world on next generation real estate technologies like Machine Learning, Cognitive Automation, and Blockchain.
Andy Birch is an experienced business software professional with a unique blend of marketing, technical, industry, product and sales expertise. Proven success in delivering sales and marketing programs that achieve game-changing results. Particularly strong at taking complex issues and turning them into understandable value propositions for customers and partners.
With over 25 years industry experience, Brett Sample joined Tango in 2014 and has led the effort to design and create the company’s cutting-edge Space Management application. Prior to joining Tango, Brett worked for many of the major IWMS, CAFM and CMMS providers in the market and started SpacePlanFM. At SpacePlanFM Brett provided consulting, implementation and support to clients in over 40 countries and implemented over 200M Square Feet of Space, Facilities and Lease Management.