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Last year, Asset Skills joined forces with the DWP to help explore the ways in which businesses can offer training that is

both tailored to operational needs, and that can help individuals gain relevant work place skills. This shift towards vocational training has been gaining momentum over the past decade, and is set to grow even stronger in future.

Just to be different, and because I believe there are nothing but benefi ts associated with formally training cleaners, I thought I’d look at this question from a risk point of view - what are the risks of ignoring

all the evidence and electing not to formally train cleaning staff?

To start with, as technology becomes more embedded in the cleaning operations, and as the use of chemicals doesn’t seem to be leaving us any time soon, there are risks associated with cleaners not having the correct skills to do the job. We all know cleaning takes talent in being able to see and get rid of dirt, but it also requires other skills and knowledge which for the most part can only be learned from somebody qualifi ed. The risk of chemical burns and injury is still very real, and this can be reduced through proper training.

The risk of cutting training from your budget can mean that cleaning operatives are much less productive; to avoid a situation where employees attempt to do jobs they are unable to do, effective training is a must. Another big risk is the cost associated with a lack of motivation. Poorly-trained and badly-paid cleaners could potentially move from company A to company B for 25p more an hour without a second thought – and to be honest,

what the benefits are of ning for cleaners?

Cleaning is without doubt a science, and as in any other scientifi c fi eld, a formal qualifi cation should be the norm. The advantages of formal training

to cleaners from an employer’s viewpoint are quite obvious; there is a more effective use of time, a greater awareness of health and safety issues, care and attention to surfaces and equipment, and the list could go on. That being the case for the employer, let us also look at the benefi ts to the cleaner.

For a cleaning employee to participate in formal training, there are many benefi ts and rewards to be gained from a recognised

training course. These courses for example can be City and Guilds apprenticeships, using practical and knowledge-based qualifi cations. These include practical cleaning skills which comprise 24 separate awards on a variety of cleaning tasks, including: Cleaning and Support Service Skills (from Entry Level 3 to Level 3, which is a practical qualifi cation a work- based qualifi cation), Level 2 Cleaning and Support Service Skills Apprenticeship, and Cleaning Supervision Skills, a work-based qualifi cation. The British Institute of Cleaning Science (BICSc) provides a ‘licence to practice’ card for cleaning operatives, which shows an employer that the cleaner has understood the necessary safety procedures needed to ensure that occupants, the cleaner and the building are safe. The licence covers three mandatory units: chemical competence, equipment safe use and the care and storage of equipment and materials. These basic skills can be built upon with further qualifi cations which can

why should they think twice? Individuals now have the opportunity to train for a nationally recognised qualifi cation that will help them into work, and enable them to progress in their career, better themselves by learning new skills and open up new opportunities.

My fi nal concern is the professionalization of the cleaning and FM industries as a whole. Without upholding standards and delivering quality training, our industry risks becoming a last resort rather than a go-to career option for new and current talent. To remain fresh and fl exible we need to attract and retain good people. I think I have made my point that training affects the bottom line – it’s vital that we as an industry consider the costs of scrimping on training and development, rather than seeing it as a ‘nice to have’ element of our operations.

Sarah Bentley, Chief Executive of Asset Skills

be tailored, depending on the needs of the individual or the employer.

As we can see, the benefi ts to the cleaner are numerous. There is the opportunity of advancement within existing employment to a supervisory roll, and the knowledge that (should you wish to advance your career by seeking new employment) you have a better chance because a formal qualifi cation will be welcomed. Training will bring confi dence and pride in your capabilities. Being a well trained employee, you will be more aware of health and safety issues which will prevent injury to yourself, your colleagues and the employees of the building that you are working in.

Every member of a cleaning team, be it private contactors or government employment, should enquire about formal training.

Brian Boll, Systems Director, Jigsaw Cleaning


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