FM’s status as an immature profession in various territories makes it attractive to UK FMs conscious of this country’s perceived pre-eminence in the field. But although opportunities exist for those able to demonstrate a specific form of knowledge or experience, the days of going abroad and automatically boosting your pay earning are gone. “These days, a lot of companies have a strong nationalisation agenda,” says Neil Everitt, business development manager at BIFM.
“They want their own nationals in FM roles. UK FMs will need to demonstrate they have the required skills to fill specific gaps. ”And a country’s attitude towards its own nationals is only one issue, says Everitt. Although the broad parameters of the job itself may be familiar, much won’t be.
Those employed with outsourced service providers or directly with organisations that have international divisions will typically have more scope to move abroad with that same company, their network of existing support mechanisms making relocation easier.
Another factor is the UK market’s status as a market leader in innovation and best practice. This country’s FM brand is strong, and FMs may be able to use this as leverage when looking for a role, particularly in those international markets that are growing quickly.
Demand for FM is linked to volume of spend on construction and infrastructure. “The United Arab Emirates (UAE), Dubai, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, are always of interest to UK expatriates,” adds Everitt. “Their smaller populations, and their lack of skills to fill senior management roles, make them attractive.”
“The UK FM industry is more developed than Europe and the Middle East,” says Nikki Dallas of recruitment consultancy Talent FM. “We are looked to as the benchmark of best practice, so UK FMs have a lot to offer abroad.
“In the late 2000s, before the last recession, there was a mass exodus of FMs from the UK to the Middle East. The UAE is still a good place to be, certainly at the higher levels of management, but fluency in Arabic is becoming increasingly important.”
Dallas confirms the growing importance of experience. “FMs able to offer up to five years’ experience would certainly be attractive to employers. Those with that level of experience would certainly have something to offer, but it’s most often those with greater experience – 10 years’-plus – who are most sought-after.”
The UK and US still represent the pre-eminent markets for the application of FM. Ultimately, an FM’s choice of country in which to practise will be influenced as much by more prosaic factors such as language, affiliation with the UK education system and availability of work visas as the professional issue of finding a suitable role. “It’s best to create a shortlist of places that offer plenty of opportunities, then narrow these choices down to a specific country and a specific role,” suggests Everitt. “However, keep in mind that a country that might make a great holiday destination may not make a good place to work.”
To read more from the 2016 FM World Guide to Career Development please click here.