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info@britishcleaningcouncil.org Divided we fall


Stan Atkins, Chair of the British Cleaning Council (BCC), reflects on how a sector divided on the importance of skills makes it a much harder sell when it comes to asking government for more investment in vocational provision within the cleaning industry.


Skills and training continue to be a massive issue in our sector, which is compounded by the significant reliance we have on overseas workers who are increasingly leaving due to the uncertainty around Brexit and other factors.


The latest BCC industry research also highlights that in 2018 there were 18,000 vacancies within commercial cleaning and related sectors, with 54% of these being in elementary roles. Nearly a third of all vacancies within cleaning and related sectors were described as ‘hard to fill’, while 18% were directly attributed to skills shortages.


When you look at what employers are saying themselves about the skills issue, we find that 12% report they have skills gaps, while around 4% of workers are considered to not be fully proficient in their respective roles.


Furthermore, 81% of establishments with skills gaps reported these as having an impact on their organisation’s performance. This is significantly greater than for UK industry as a whole.


That is not to say the industry isn’t doing anything about it, with 87% of establishments in the cleaning and related sectors having reported they are undertaking steps to improve efficiency or boost the skills of their staff.


Actions being taken to overcome lack of proficiency among workers included increased training, more supervision, mentoring schemes, more and better appraisals, and the reallocation of work.


With regards to paid training specifically, our research also reveals that in 2017 60% of firms in the industry had arranged or funded some form of training, which is actually 6% lower than the UK average. The proportion of people being trained (57%) is also lower than the national average.


And while just over 40% of employers also say they would like to do more, another 40% believe either their staff are fully proficient, or that training simply isn’t a high enough priority.


So, while there clearly is a will to do more among a significant portion of the sector, finding the resources and budgets to deliver training remains a challenge. But in contrast we have an equally large number of employers who don’t see it as problem.


This is creating quite a conundrum for our industry, because to really develop a successful and effective skills programme you need a commitment to skills and professional development which permeates the whole


50 | TRAINING & EDUCATION


sector, not just some parts of it.


Just like the way the UK is wrestling with the productivity puzzle in terms of manufacturing, the key to improving the skills and capacity of our people has to be through a culture of ‘continuous improvement’ at every level of the cleaning industry.


I’ll grant you, the government’s continued resistance to developing a proper vocational framework specifically for the cleaning and hygiene sectors isn’t helping, but it is within the gift of all employers to find ways to improve the skills and performance of not only their staff, but of themselves as well.


The BCC and its members will of course continue to push the skills and training agenda with businesses, policymakers and industry partners, and we are fully committed to helping the sector up its game in terms of addressing the skills gap.


But if 40% of firms in our sector don’t feel improving skills matters, it makes it very hard to make the case with key influencers from outside of our industry regarding the need for a more formal and structured professional cleaning career pathway.


For a free copy of the British Cleaning Council’s latest industry research, email us.


www.britishcleaningcouncil.org twitter.com/TomoCleaning


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