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training. Out of the three layers of training available, Sarah argues that the induction one is key, as it will provide a consistency of minimal knowledge and skill for those entering the sectors.

“Users will have a record of whether someone has completed that programme with another employer enabling them to accept that when they come to work for them as a valid training certification,” said Sarah. “There will not be the inconvenience for companies having staff to go off and be trained – they can do it online, at home, or in the workplace, so they’re not removed from the job. Hopefully, that will speed things up and provide that basic level of quality.”

standard for entering the industry. One of the calls from the cleaning employers specifically was: ‘Please can you give us a framework and provide the training to meet the general skills that are needed at every level?’” said Sarah.

“The cleaning sector has been a priority for us through the merger; what we’ve created is, first of all, an online induction programme for the cleaning industry, that all members of our new entity will be able to access. This has been developed by employers, and has been tested with very large multi-FM providers and also the small cleaning companies and SME’s.”

Also in the pipeline haa been the development of mobile phone apps which allow supervisors to access the competancy of the staff in real-time. On top of that, there’s the management development; a mixture of online and face-to-face

By March the programmes and courses will be fully up and running. One of the key benefits of becoming a member is the exclusive access to a personal online learning portal. Depending on their needs and the systems which are currently in operation in their business, users can use it as fully as they wish. It will monitor and provide all the information on every aspect of the learning and training that their employees have undertaken.

I'm very confident that with this new structure every sector will have an equal voice.

As Sarah described: “It will allow users to book training online, and will also be a management tool for employees, qualifications and learning of your staff. This is particularly good for SME’s, as a lot of small businesses can’t afford to create something like this – it’s one of the benefits of membership.

“I firmly believe that skill is at the heart of driving professionalism, driving up standards, and if you have the right people with the right skills, you’re onto a winner, so this for me is

about how to embed that ethos into the core of everything that this new entity stands for.”

Another key aim of the merger is to provide the opportunity for service providers and users to network and to do business together, building on the success of the FMA. The monthly networking events that it holds are very well attended, allowing end users to meet those who provide their services, as well as those who manufacture the equipment that allows the services to operate.

The new body will continue to offer this service. Sarah commented: “When we asked if members wanted that part of it to carry on, they said it absolutely has to continue. So that was the starting point, but one of the first tasks will be to look at how we can develop this service,.so that it’s of greater tangible benefit to our members. “The three organisations have received very positive feedback from the industry since the announcement of the merger.”

The one concern which seems to have cropped up regarding the bold move is that all the industries respectively don’t want to get lost in this bigger entity, and still want to be represented properly. Sarah claims that this is where the strategic sector boards come in; they’re comprised of employers that want to shape, steer and influence the services they receive from this new entity, and will allow the organisation to shape it's services to meet the needs of each sector.

She concluded: “I’m very confident that with this new structure, every sector will have an equal voice. We will support employees individually and therefore get those individual issues addressed, but then collectively have the representative voice to speak to government and get some influence and recognition at that level too.”


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