Philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways, but the real task is to alter it. Karl Marx
Facilities Management has become much elevated in its status in the marketplace in recent years due to rapid developments within technology, environmental and government regulation, terror-related security issues and various other contributory factors. As its prominence has increased, organisations now recognise its importance and view it as an area of sustainable and consistent growth.
This recognition has fuelled a surge in enthusiasm from corporations to outsource FM needs and obligations, or, alternatively, they are acquiring companies purely to use established facilities management divisions. FM has claimed its place as a vital, strategic discipline as its responsibilities are non-negotiable and ensure that organisations’ assets are effectively managed and delivered. Facilities Management has come of age and is now an essential component to global businesses for which a suitably skilled workforce is vital.
The prevention, treatment and management of illness, and the preservation of mental and physical well-being require cutting edge technology and infrastructure to cope with growing populations and the pressures caused by increasing life expectancy. This creates considerable opportunity for the construction industry, with billions being invested on an annual basis and more and more organisations aligning themselves as healthcare construction specialists and tendering for these major schemes.
Complex frameworks, tendering models and public/private partnerships create particular requirements for exceptional commercial and procurement specialists in addition to technical expertise, and, while there are current constraints on some major projects, the provision of community medical centres and specialist units ensure continued opportunity and demand. A strong team of talented professionals is essential to deliver a first-class outcome for this key aspect of everyone’s lives.
Education spending is always going to be a significant issue on any political agenda. Both UK and international governments are providing targeted funding for school modernisation, special education needs and technology. Across the rest of the world, we continue to see enthusiasm for products and services that help teachers to teach and learners to learn. Education projects are no longer concerned solely with bricks and mortar, but are increasingly likely to require specialist expertise from inception, with collaborative design, input from educationalists, innovative funding and stakeholder models and the integration of leading IT and technology. Contractors, consultants and clients are all now likely to employ in-house multi-disciplinary teams from both the construction and education sectors, who can manage these projects from start to finish.
The defence market is a buoyant sector and remains comparatively insulated from global recession in comparison with many other industries. In recent years, India announced plans to spend US$100bn over the coming decade, putting it among the top three spenders behind the US and China. Defence brings its own challenges in balancing speed and cost efficiency of construction against security concerns and minimising impact on military life and operations. Investment has increasingly derived from PFI/PPP vehicles, calling for specialised commercial functions in addition to the build process. High levels of media coverage and activism due to high profile military campaigns have increased the public awareness of military life, and brought pressure to ensure the supportive infrastructure and accommodation is the best available.
With multi-billion dollar defence projects being commissioned globally, this is a sector requiring superior leadership, from an engineering and construction perspective, and is affected by global competition in engineering excellence and talent.
The renewed focus on regeneration also fuels the development of new retail outlets and commercial office developments which also have a positive impact on employment levels.
The regeneration development pipeline suggests a trend towards more mixed-use development. The successful players currently operating in the regeneration sector are now seeking to integrate and operate within a highly mixed development environment, by offering a broad range of skills across a wide range of construction sectors such as residential, commercial, leisure and public sector, as well as undertaking specialist schemes.
Commercial property saw one of the largest falls of any sector in project starts during the global financial crisis. In many capital and key economic cities, lack of new office floor space coming onto the market, and, latterly, a rise in tenant and occupier demand has resulted in a rise in rental and capital values, and increased demand for a diminished pool of quality office space. Industry forecasts suggest a resurgence in the commercial marketplace as developers vie for these opportunities, with previously shelved or halted projects being revisited, such as the £500m ‘Walkie Talkie’ in London.
The sector still faces challenges with liquidity and available funding, and rising material costs, particularly the cost of steel. While it may be some time before we see speculative development anywhere near pre-recession levels, most industry experts remain optimistic that we will see a year-on-year rise in commercial project starts as the economic situation improves globally, and organisations must plan their recruitment strategy accordingly.
Strong performance and ambitious growth plans of some major retail programmes have led to increasing competition for new schemes and widespread refurbishment of existing portfolios. The retail sector also drives development in other sectors with major supermarket chains often having to demonstrate wider community benefit and infrastructure to gain planning permission in areas where community groups oppose major chain development, creating housing and community medical centres, for example, as part of development plans.
Globally, major retail development is anticipated, particularly in China, Africa and South America, areas which were not subject to the same financial excesses pre-recession and are not, as a result, as subject to the risks of low consumer confidence and spend. The outlook, as a whole, is reasonably fragile and, in many developed nations, will depend on how they rebalance their economies and funding, but opportunities remain as many retailers take an aggressive line on expansion in one of the most competitive of all market sectors. Commercial and engineering skills are essential to meet the challenges as well as the opportunities posed by this fragile sector of the market.
The construction and property market has seen Mixed Use developments become increasingly mooted as solutions to low availability of premium land in densely conurbated areas. These are also critical lynchpins in the creation of vibrant new communities, particularly when regenerating areas with a low standard of amenities or on brownfield sites. There is an additional benefit to blending commercial, retail, leisure and housing in that thoughtful design can lead to an optimisation of floor space usage when related to rental value, often making mixed use developments more economically viable then single use developments.
Planning complex schemes brings its own design challenges to create open, naturally lit and aesthetically pleasing spaces, balancing the differing architecture of housing, retail and commercial into a coherent development. These schemes also involve highly technical and complex civil engineering and development to provide the necessary transport and utility infrastructure, for which the relevant skills are essential.
Changing demographics leading to an increase in single households, economic migration and other factors mean that five million new homes will be needed in Britain over the next 20 years, in order to keep up with soaring demand. With the annual rate of household growth continuing to rise and the requirement for social housing remaining firmly at the centre of the political agenda, successive governments have maintained home building programmes. The residential construction sector must attract and retain talent, as we do not simply need to build more new homes, but must also build them better. Energy efficiency, sustainability and clever design are key to competing in today’s challenging economic climate. The talented individuals needed to lead and deliver excellent projects are always in demand. Future Executive Search has the industry knowledge to identify these individuals.