Facilities Services Shortages: Is ED&I in facilities services the key to solving talent challenges?

Facilities management covers a number of areas. Broadly speaking, is defined as the tools and services that support the functionality, safety, and sustainability of buildings, grounds and infrastructure. But in reality, facilities management is key to keeping the country running.  

Keeping our towns and cities clean and tidy, transporting supplies around the country, getting kids to school or people to work, maintaining essential public amenities – facilities services are vital. This is why skill shortages in this area have such a wide-reaching impact. In the UK there are two areas where this is being more acutely felt; namely logistics and waste management.  


Employers seeking logistic staff such as warehouse operatives, HGV drivers, transport managers and more have struggled with recruitment for a number of years now. Back in 2021, Logistics UK reported that 96% of logistics employers in both the private and public sector had problems recruiting HGV drivers.  

More than 13% also revealed they have severe or very severe difficulties hiring warehouse staff. This issue has only worsened since then. By the beginning of last year, City & Guilds was predicting a 400,000 labour shortfall in logistics by 2026. The Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport in the UK (CILT UK) has also revealed that 86% of companies are struggling to recruit and retain warehouse staff and drivers. 

While the pandemic certainly had an impact on worker numbers in logistics, IR35 and Brexit have also both had a lasting effect. Reports from two thinktanks - the Centre for European Reform (CER) and UK in a Changing Europe – have suggested that transport and warehousing were the ‘worst hit’ by a loss of EU talent, with around 8% of the workforce disappearing.  

The introduction of IR35 has further exacerbated driver recruitment. According to the Road Haulage Association, this has led to many agency labourers withdrawing their services as the impact on rates is simply ‘unsustainable’.  

Waste management  

The shortage of workers in private and public sector waste management services has made headline news since pandemic restrictions were lifted. Reports from 2021 onwards of delayed bin collections have created an uproar in local communities. Complaints to councils have soared as a result.   

Powys County Council alone reported a 38% increase in complaints over missed bin collections between 2021 and 2022. In July of 2023, Swindon Council faced similar challenges, and they, like many others both in the public and private sector, cited a lack of drivers as a key reason. 

But it’s not just refuse driver shortages impacting public and private sector waste management services. Cleaning and hygiene staff are also in short supply. According to the British Cleaning Council (BCC), severe staff shortages have been an issue since 2020.   

Again, there are a range of factors impacting this issue. The BCC cites Brexit and a lack of interest in careers in the sector from UK workers as significant challenges. In particular, the British Cleaning Council have claimed that the 2021 immigration act has made it particularly difficult for the cleaning and hygiene sector to encourage non-UK workers into the country to fill gaps.  

On a broader scale, the perception of work in this remit is a challenge for recruitment.   

It is often seen as grueling and ‘dirty’ work, which puts many off a career in cleaning, refuse and waste. For waste in particular, the view that most roles are ‘masculine’ has also been an issue. The fact that the term ‘binman’ is still widely used highlights the perceived lack of diversity in jobs in the sector. This reputation of this type of work creates a barrier to entry for a significant proportion of the UK workforce, and arguably has been the greatest issue for recruitment in this remit for decades.  

Seasonal issues and response to other staff shortages have further created resourcing headaches. As a case in point, over the course of the last year we’ve seen refuse drivers redeployed to help grit roads during the winter months, while others have been utilised to fill in for the education sector as a shortage of school bus drivers also impacted the UK.   

Recruiting under-represented groups could be the answer  

Perhaps the best way to demonstrate how proactive inclusive recruitment solutions work, the challenges that need to be overcome, and how a good model of best practice can set organisations up for success, is to focus on examples of where it has worked in under-represented groups.   

Comensura have worked with a facilities management company recently on a number of new initiatives targeting a range of underrepresented groups, in order to attract a more diverse workforce and ensure that all contingent vacancies were filled. 

Initiatives including ‘Women in Waste’ and ‘Jobs for Ukraine’ proved successful alongside actively recruiting over-55s, and building partnerships with prisons to provide more employment opportunities and identify more ways for ex-offenders to be in the best possible position to re-enter the workforce, to help reduce re-offending rates. 

Read the full case study for more information: How to evolve your contingent workforce to meet skills shortages 
The scarcity of workers in the UK has become a critical business issue. The country has seen crucial public and private sector services grind to a halt as a combination of skills shortages, worker strikes and high staff turnover rates all impact access to resources.  

Comensura’s new whitepaper ‘Navigating Skills Shortages Through Inclusive Workforce Solutions’ explores how by evolving your contingent workforce with proactive inclusive recruitment strategies. Read our free-to-download whitepaper today. 

Comensura are here to help  

Since 2001 we’ve been helping organisations plan, build and manage their workforces. We save companies money and time, ensuring full compliance and quality at every step. We bring simplicity to the complex process of acquiring contingent and permanent talent, workforce management, and people-based services procurement. All of this is made possible by our proprietary, adaptive tech, as well as data-driven insights and a team of experts dedicated to making a difference.  

If you are struggling with finding the logistics and waste management talent you need, we have strategies, experience, advice and solutions from our seasoned team to help. Simply drop us a message on our contact us page.