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Part 1: Looking at the evidence

Rising to the Challenge

In a series of ARTICLES, Richard Gawthorpe examines how local government and the wider public sector can respond to rising demands on their property services while grappling with capacity challenges within their organisations.


A recent survey by chief executives’ group Solace highlighted nine out of 10 of its members were “concerned about the pipeline of staff with the appropriate skills/qualifications to work in the most senior roles in the council over the next three to five years.”

Over the coming weeks, I will examine some of the long and short-term solutions – but today, let us look at the evidence.

Severe shortages in labour and expertise, the ongoing impact of years of cuts in funding and now the unexpected and devasting effects of Covid-19 have left public sector organisations with severe gaps in capacity, especially when it comes to the built environment.

According to research published by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) in May, most employers are already experiencing skills shortages within their workforces – or expect to have such shortages within the next five years

Some 33% of respondents were suffering a shortage in core business skills, while a further 41% expected shortages in the year ahead.

The research also revealed there was a real need for capacity building for the Net Zero transition, with over three quarters (76%) of employers already stating they have a shortage of the skills needed to support the move.

And, certainly, local government is no exception to this situation, particularly in property services.

Within asset management, estates surveying and the built environment, in particular, we are seeing large gaps within teams where specific expertise and experience are required.

This is a subject that we at the Norse Group, a 100% local authority-owned company, often hear about via our teams at our multi-disciplinary property consultancy Norse Consulting.

This crisis appears to cut across all areas of employment, yet within the public sector there are additional challenges.

For example, as highlighted recently by the CIPD in its Labour Market Outlook (Spring 2022) report, there is less flexibility to respond to recruitment and retention challenges with increases to pay and other benefits arrangements.

A recent study by Macdonald &Company in June 22 highlights that property professionals in the private sector who have moved to new employers or received a counteroffer after intending to resign, have received an average salary uplift of circa 18%.

This demonstrates that the current job market is very much candidate-led, with employers needing to offer increasingly competitive salaries to attract and retain the best colleagues.

The good news is that solutions are available – and I will look at some of these over the coming weeks.

This article is part of the Rising to the Challenge series. For more information on creating capacity within your own teams contact Richard Gawthorpe via or call 01603 706140.

Part 2: Direct-award toolbox