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Training - a vital component of staff dignity

Published 31st October, 2022 by Lee Andrews

Lee Andrews

Lee Andrews

CEO
DOC Cleaning
The C&M Blog

Training - a vital component of staff dignity

Stan Atkins of BICSc is one of many leading lights to write recently about dignity and respect for cleaning staff. The two issues are directly related, of course. You could say that dignity is a sense of self-respect and comes partly from others respecting you. The problem is that it is very easy to undermine.

It relies to an extent on acknowledgment and recognition by others and it angers us, as contractors, when we hear about staff whose achievements or contributions are belittled, or who are undeservedly made to feel undervalued. To change the attitude of the ‘perpetrators’ is an uphill task. Sadly, there is always going to be a section of society who lack the grace or awareness to recognise the work of cleaning staff. All you can say is that, thankfully, there is a slowly growing number out there who do take the time to acknowledge our teams.

Nonetheless, this is an important issue and is core to one of our industry’s fundamental challenges – how to raise the profile of cleaning as a distinct, professional industry in which people feel encouraged to develop careers.

It is a two-part challenge. The first is easy to address and is entirely within our own hands. The root of disrespect for cleaning staff is often a perception that they are unskilled and it falls to us to ensure that this is not the case by ensuring all staff receive the training needed to complete their current role and then to progress up the ladder. Software-based training such as UhUb, or training resources available from City and Guilds or BICSc, mean there is no excuse nowadays for not making training accessible to 100% of staff at all levels of a company.

The second part of the challenge is trickier, however. There still seems to be a perception at high levels within the UK establishment that cleaning does not merit a seat at the table of recognised, let alone critical industries. Despite the hard work done to establish the All-Party Parliamentary Group, I am of the understanding that it has proved mightily difficult to get an official apprenticeship in front-line cleaning skills approved by the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (although at the time of writing it is hoped that good news may be forthcoming on the use of the Apprenticeship Levy to fund wider training in the autumn). This has continually felt like a rebuffal of the idea that cleaning is a skilled occupation and is reinforced, so we hear, by the Government’s reluctance to engage with the industry on the controlled admission of foreign citizens to work in the UK as cleaning operatives in the aftermath of the Immigration Act.

If it does become possible to use the full Apprenticeship Levy to fund front-line training, as I sincerely hope is the case, it will be a major boost. At the moment, contractors are effectively paying twice for training and upskilling – once through the statutory Levy contributions and a second time to pay those who actually deliver the training, but who are not Levy-accredited training organisations.

The results of such a change in the way the Levy can be used would, in my opinion, have three positive effects: firstly to offer a variety of recognised awards to all cleaning operatives, supervisors and managers, which would increase the self-esteem of the employee; secondly to free up some of the ever-dwindling budgets of contractors, allowing them to be invested in pay rates, employee welfare schemes and ESG initiatives; and thirdly, to improve upon the image of the cleaning industry by giving us the ability to demonstrate the unquestioned professionalism of our many employees.

www.doccleaning.com

About the contributor

Lee Andrews

Lee Andrews

CEO

DOC Cleaning

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