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Cleaning and hygiene industry leaders celebrate as apprenticeships bid clears first hurdle

Published 3rd November, 2021 by Neil Nixon

Cleaning and hygiene industry leaders celebrate as apprenticeships bid clears first hurdle

Delighted cleaning and hygiene industry leaders have welcomed a decision to give the green light to develop detailed proposals for an accredited industry-wide training programme and apprenticeship for the sector.

Earlier this year, the British Cleaning Council (BCC) sponsored a Trailblazer group, comprising major companies from the sector along with supporting stakeholders, to spearhead the development of the Professional Cleaning and Hygiene Operative Apprenticeship. The first step was for the employer group to make the case to approving body, the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (IfATE), in order to get the green light to develop the proposal.

Since spring, the Trailblazer group has been making its case to the IfATE and in May it called for businesses in the cleaning and hygiene sector to write supporting statements. The result was over 30 endorsements when only 10 were required.

The first hurdle in the process has now been successfully cleared. In the past few years, the industry has twice approached the IfATE about setting up an apprenticeship but has sadly not got past the first stage. The hard work begins now as the next stage is for the Trailblazer group to flesh out its proposal for a training programme and apprenticeship. It hopes to put a detailed proposal to the IfATE early next year.

Chair of the Trailblazer group, head of cleaning at Sodexo UK & Ireland, Lauren Kyle, said: “This is excellent news for the cleaning profession and represents an important step forward. Thank you to all those who have supported the Trailblazer group to get to this important milestone. The group looks forward now to moving into the full development phase.”

BCC chairman, Jim Melvin, is part of the Trailblazer group. He said: “We are delighted to have successfully completed the first stage of the process. Although there is still much work to be done, getting the green light is hugely encouraging and is an extremely positive development. There is an overwhelming need for an industry-wide training accreditation and apprenticeship. It is deeply unfair that industry businesses have to pay an Apprenticeship Levy yet do not have the option of investing those funds in a full package of appropriate apprenticeship schemes covering the majority of their core business activities. We also need an industry-wide apprenticeship to ensure our staff have the skills they need and to help create a full career path for the industry. So this is truly great news which will please many in our industry. We will now be going full speed ahead in working up our detailed proposals with the aim of bringing them forward as soon as possible."

The Apprenticeship Levy means that employers with an annual pay bill of more than £3 million put around 0.5% towards the levy. Alternatively, businesses can use these funds on recognised apprenticeship schemes.

A Healthcare Cleaning Operative (HCO) Apprenticeship approved in early 2020 does not include all the technical skills and training needed by cleaning and hygiene operatives working outside healthcare.

Representatives from a wide range of companies are taking part in the Trailblazer group including: Sodexo; The Exclusive Services Group; Principle Cleaning; OCS; Mitie; NIC; ABM; Noonans; Cleanology; and ISS.

Supporting stakeholders in the Trailblazer group include: the Association of Healthcare Cleaning Professionals (ahcp); the British Institute of Cleaning Science (BICSc); the Chartered Institution of Wastes Management (CIWM); the Cleaning and Support Services Association (CSSA); the National Carpet Cleaners Association (NCCA); CIWM /WAMITAB; the Worshipful Company of Environmental Cleaners (WCEC); and the Business Services Association (BSA).

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