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Sector Information

The activities in the ‘property and facilities management’ sector can be divided into the following industries: cleaning and support services; facilities management; housing; property and planning; and parking. Asset Skills Sector Skills Council is responsible for the skills interests of employers in this sector.

  • The property and facilities management workforce comprises 3% of the total UK workforce and contributes 7% Gross Domestic Product to the economy (approximately £100 billion).
  • The sector is dominated by small companies (94%) employing between 1-10 people, which can make work-based assessment of competence difficult, as well as limiting the uptake of training and qualifications generally.
  • Between 2007 and 2008, the number of workplaces in the sector increased by 5%, compared with about 2% across the UK economy as a whole.
  • There was a 62% increase in the number of workplaces between 1998 and 2008, compared with a growth rate of 19% across the UK economy as a whole.
  • Across the industries, there has been a significant increase in the number of workplaces in facilities management (93%) and property and housing workplaces (85%) between 1998 and 2008.

Source: Asset Skills UK Sector Skills Assessment 2010


In 2008, 959,400 people were employed in property and facilities management sector across the UK, of which:

  • Nearly 40% (374,000) is in the property and housing industry
  • 47% (448,400) in cleaning and support services
  • 4% (136,900) in facilities management

64% of employment within the sector is full-time. This is slightly lower than the UK economy as a whole, where approximately 74% of employment is full-time. In the cleaning and support services industry, 53% of the workforce is part-time, compared with 25% in the UK economy.
Employment projections for the Asset Skills footprint suggest the prospects for the industry as a whole are for substantial job growth. Employment in total is projected to increase by 105,000 between 2007 and 2017. This represents an increase of 9.3% on the 2007 level. These estimates relate to the whole of the UK.

Source: Asset Skills UK Sector Skills Assessment 2010

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Future skill needs

A number of events are expected to impact on future skills demands, including: the Olympic and Paralympic Games in London, 2012; and the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, 2014.

In addition, there are a number of significant regeneration programmes and development of ‘eco towns’, which are expected to impact on the sector. The low carbon agenda, and commitments to reduce carbon emissions will also have significant implications for jobs and skills. Due to the recent economic climate, there is expected to be an increase in outsourcing, as companies refocus their business to concentrate on core competencies.

Source: Asset Skills UK Sector Skills Assessment 2010

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Key drivers and implications for skills in the sector

The economy

The recent economic climate has had a significant impact on the sectors. Across the industries the following skills are required:

  • Facilities Management – contract and client relationship management; financial and budget management; strategic planning; and innovation.
  • Cleaning and Support Services – management and leadership skills; customer service skills; negotiation skills to improve client retention; and sustainability
  • Housing – higher level decision making; communication skills; management and leadership; negotiating, enabling skills and partnership working; business planning; procurement skills; money advice, and benefits awareness and support for homeless and vulnerable people.
  • Property – letting skills (particularly amongst estate agents who are new to the lettings sector); broaden skills and make people more employable (This may be applicable for occupations such as surveyors and planners who tend to specialise in their expertise); plus sustainability and energy management skills and knowledge.


Companies in the sector are now able to compete for international contracts and to collaborate with global operators. This, combined with the increase in large-scale public financed contracts, has created a demand for larger and more efficient organisations, encompassing a broader spectrum of skills. This is of particular relevance to the facilities management industry.

Sustainability and regeneration

Energy assessment is playing an increasingly important role within the management of buildings, with the introduction of energy assessors, accredited to produce Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) on all types of property and Display Energy Certificates (DECs) for public buildings.

The drive to reduce carbon emissions will drive up the demand for skills, but these will principally be supplied by existing occupations being retrained rather than new occupations being created. Thus, a surveyor can be trained to become an energy assessor, or a housing manager or estate agent to perform the role of energy adviser. Facilities managers, in particular, will need the skills and knowledge to manage their buildings in a more energy-efficient way.

Minimum wage

The increase if the National Minimum Wage from £5.73 to £5.80 has had implications for employers driving up their costs and reducing the differential between supervisory staff and staff without management or supervisory responsibilities.

Low Carbon Legislation

The European Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD), Communities and Local Government (CLG) introduced measures to improve the energy efficiency of building. The EPBD has resulted in the introduction of a number of key roles that contribute towards improving the energy efficiency of buildings, and have subsequently influenced the demand for skills in this area, including:

  • Domestic, Commercial and Air Conditioning System Energy Assessors
  • Home Energy Advisors – from January 2010 in England, Advisors will carry out audits of the home in terms of the fabrics used and advise on occupier behaviour in relation to energy consumption

Growing sophistication of consumers and increasingly demanding customers

  • Increasing importance of customer service – The continual drive for higher standards of customer service is expected to change the way in which people within the sector work and the skills they need.
  • Segmentation of the customer base – Customer bases are becoming more fragmented and the supply of generic service levels is increasingly inappropriate in attending to different customer needs.
  • Value for money – Clients are more aware that the cheapest option may not be the most cost-effective and many organisations are more concerned with finding the best value for money.
  • Procurement processes – There has been growth in the importance of procurement and the adoption of more formal processes for procuring services, in both the private and public sector. This has also led to a growing professionalism of the client side of the industry, which reinforces the formal nature of the tendering process.

In terms of skills, this means that:

  • Interpersonal skills and good communication are seen as essential tools
  • Customers have a greater focus on standards and quality of service, which means that there is greater emphasis on understanding and meeting customer needs, multi-skilling, flexible working and increased use of technology
  • Tendering and procurement skills
  • Contract management

Increasing use of technology

The use of IT has become widespread changing the way businesses are run and the way services are delivered. ICT has become part of their daily tasks, requiring further development of operatives’ skills.

Shifting demographics and changing composition of the workforce

  • Ageing workforce – This creates issues of retraining staff in new technologies and developments, and also has implications for further recruitment activities.
  • Migrant workers – Investment is needed in ESOL training as lack of ability in spoken English remains a significant challenge for the sector.

Changing working patterns

  • Shift working and remote working
  • Hybrid job roles and a growing emphasis on multi-skilling
  • Full-time working and implications for retaining staff and recruiting new staff
  • Daytime cleaning is becoming the norm

Source: Asset Skills UK Sector Skills Assessment 2010

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