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In this month’s ‘View From the BCC’ column, Lee Baker, PR and Media Manager for the British Cleaning Council, makes the case for apprenticeships, arguing that the training and experience they offer can provide an integral route into the industry.


The government has said it is committed to delivering 3 million apprenticeships by 2020, and the recent ‘National Apprenticeship Week’ illustrated just how much emphasis they are going to put into them in the next few years.


The path to apprenticeships for young people is now more defined than ever, as more of them decide against university and the huge debt associated with it.


Apprenticeships have been important in the cleaning industry for a number of years, but Ofsted Chief, Sir Michael Wilshaw, upset a few people in the industry with his comments that cleaning is a ‘low skill’ occupation that shouldn’t be included as an apprenticeship.


The core argument he was making about improving the standards of apprenticeships is something which does chime with the BCC, as high quality education and training is one of the founding principles of the council.


But part of the problem the cleaning industry faces, and has done for a long time, is perception. When cleaning apprenticeships were first introduced there were many ready to pour scorn on the idea. Jack Dee told a very amusing joke at the time about cleaning


28 | Tomorrow’s Cleaning April 2016


apprenticeships being quite easy, as ‘you just pick it up as you go along’!


Those kind of jokes don’t resonate with the public in quite the same way anymore, due to the giant strides the industry has made. But there is still quite a way to go to fully convince the public that cleaning is something which requires professional training.


One of the strongest arguments is to simply point out to sceptics what our world would look like if public spaces weren’t thoroughly cleaned and sanitised.


Public health crises like the hospital superbug outbreak are still fresh in people’s minds, and nobody wants to return to the days of MRSA, and so a convincing argument for professional cleaning can easily be made here.


Public hygiene issues are extremely important to the general population, so the case for professional training can be made across the board. Nobody wants to contract a bacterial infection from being in a school, an office, shopping mall, airport, restaurant, etc.


It could be the case that people in general take public hygiene for granted, and because micro- organisms lurk beyond the human eye, people do need reminding that their


safety is down to an army of cleaning operatives, backed up by an industry that trains them, and equips them with the correct products.


“People do need reminding that their safety is down to an army of cleaning


operatives, backed up by an industry that trains them.”


Despite what Sir Michael has indicated, it is vital that cleaning does continue to be recognised through government sponsored apprenticeships, and the industry has it within itself to prove to him, and others, that the vast majority of training schemes do offer real training and real career progress.


Ofsted’s slogan for National Apprenticeship Week is, ‘an apprenticeship can take you anywhere’ and it is a slogan that is as relevant to the cleaning industry as any other sector.


www.britishcleaningcouncil.org


twitter.com/TomoCleaning


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