Human Resources, Maintenance and Operations

FM Industry Wants to Recruit More Veterans

Because only 15% of the facilities management workforce comprises military veterans, the International Facility Management Association (IFMA) hosted a webinar called “Veterans in Facility Management: Unlocking New Talent” on March 26 to cover a new study and encourage more veterans to enter the field.

About the Study

The event focused on presenting and interpreting the results of the latest IFMA project, “U.S. Veterans in Facility Management: A Global Salary and Compensation Supplementary Report,” released March 25.

The project was the result of a partnership between IFMA and the Simplar Foundation, a group of researchers and educators from Arizona State University, the University of Kansas, the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, the University of Oklahoma, Washington State University, Western Illinois University, Bringham Young University, and Texas A&M University.

The project’s lead researchers, Dr. Steven Call, assistant professor from Washington State University, and Dr. Jake Smithwick, who serves as an associate professor at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, presented the findings during the webinar. They have a history of studying workforce demographics within the FM industry and several weeks ago looked at women in the FM field.

Why Focus on Veterans?

Smithwick himself served 6 years in the Air Force Reserve as part of the emergency management and civil engineering squadron.

“There’s a huge transition right now due to an aging workforce, there’s significant demographic changes and my experience having been in the Air Force for a few years is that folks like that bring a unique skill set and I think that as FM professionals I would look to fill in the gap for that skill set. Veterans are an outstanding resource that we maybe have historically overlooked, and they can certainly bring a lot of value with that to our organizations,” he noted.

Additionally, veterans bring communication and organizational skills, discipline, punctuality, and work ethic to the organizations they work for.

Report Findings

1. Age and Gender

For the study, “veteran” was defined as those who completed their service and those on active duty.

After surveying 12,000 people, it was found the average age of veterans in FM is 52 years old and 47 for non-veterans. Also, there are far more veterans in FM over the age of 56 than non-veterans.

While women make up 25% of the U.S. FM workforce, Call said that only 4% of military veterans are women.

2. Education

More veterans are being recruited into FM from college (17%) than directly from the military (2%).

Speaking of college, Call explained that veterans are more likely to have a graduate degree (35%) than non-veterans (21%). Most veterans who have college degrees majored in business management (34%) or engineering (23%).

3. Job Functions

“The majority of both military veterans and non-veterans consider facility operations as their primary job function,” Call said, explaining that 79% of veterans work in that capacity.

Veterans looking for entry-level work can often find it within 8 weeks, half as long as non-veterans, thanks to experience from transferrable skills gained from being in the military.

4. Pay

“Veterans in FM receive similar pay as non-veterans from entry-level and early midlevel jobs,” Call explained, adding that “veterans lag behind non-veteran pay at late mid-level and early senior-level roles, before rising again in their late senior-level career.”

Median salaries for midlevel roles with 11+ years of experience rise for non-veterans to $115,400, while for veterans, it flattens at $91,000. Call believes this is partly because many veterans are going to college.

However, veterans and non-veterans are making an average of $146,380 at the senior level with 16+ years of experience.

There appears to be no difference in satisfaction with pay between veterans and non-veterans, and both groups share similar job tenures and employment status.

5. Organizations Unaware

After interviewing military experts, Call said, “The main issue impacting historically low hiring levels of military veterans in FM appears to be that organizations are generally unaware of how to best support and attract potential candidates transitioning out of the military every year.”

Call therefore urges organizations to “facilitate the development of military veterans as a primary, sustainable recruitment source for future facility professionals,” encouraging them to not just be aware of the process but also engage with other organizations. 

6. Solving the Problem

Call suggested that employers and veterans consider joining the Military Community of IFMA. For active servicemembers and interested organizations, he recommended the Department of Defense (DOD) SkillBridge Program, which allows servicemembers to work in an apprenticeship or internship at an organization during their last 180 days of service.

Learn More

To learn more about the study’s findings and to read viewers’ comments, watch the full webinar by clicking here, and download the report by clicking here.

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