Cleaning and Environmental Service professionals make a difference to all our lives, although the work often goes ‘unseen’. Cleaners ensure that the places we work in and the public places we use are attractive, safe and hygienic. In hospitals cleaning staff are at the forefront of controlling the spread of infection, and in many walks of life cleaners ensure a hazard free environment by ensuring it is safe and clean for the general public.
The Intermediate framework has three pathways, Cleaning & Support Services, Local Environmental Services and Pest Management.
Cleaning & Support Services covers the following job roles: building interiors cleaner, hygiene operative, facilities operative, specialist cleaning operative, window cleaner and food premises cleaner. Apprentices could work in a variety of settings such as hospitals, schools, factories, state of the art offices and shopping centres.
Local Environmental Services covers the job roles of neighbourhood services assistant or operative. The role involves a combination of cleaning and horticultural skills, such as hard and soft landscaping and grounds maintenance.
Apprentices following this pathway would normally work for local authorities and housing associations in settings such as parks, cemeteries and crematoria, public rights of way, countryside recreation sites and open spaces around people’s homes and council buildings.
Pest Management covers the job roles of Pest Management Technician or Operative. The role involves identifying, controlling or eliminating pests/vermin in customers’ homes and businesses by utilising a variety of methods such as applying pesticides and laying traps. The work also involves offering advice on preventative measures and suitable methods of control.
Pest Management provides protection from the risks of pest related contamination and damage that can result in a loss of reputation and business as well as a significant fine. The UK pest control industry practices self-regulation. As a result there are significant differences in the way services are delivered by each company, ranging from the unskilled and liberal spraying of insecticides to the use of best practice.
There is no competency based qualification in pest management and it is felt that the development of such areas within the apprenticeship will help to raise standards and ensure that personnel have the practical skills relating to the safe use of pesticides and in particular green pest control methods. The apprenticeship will also help to develop important skills such as communication and customer service skills, whilst numeracy skills will be important in measuring and calculating the correct doses of pesticides.
The availability of the apprenticeship itself will be an incentive for employers to train their staff in the new competency requirements and the necessary functional and personal, learning and thinking skills.
Research carried out by the British Pest Control Association (BPCA) shows that staff qualified to Level 2 generate almost £260 a week more business for their employer and therefore receive better wages (BPCA, 2012). 36% of pest controllers have below level 2 or no qualifications (Taken from the Annual Population Survey 2010).
The Advanced Apprenticeship in Cleaning Supervision has been developed to provide a clear progression route for both people already working in the sector at Level 2, and to highlight the career pathway for those new to or contemplating joining the sector.
Being able to retain and gain new contracts requires an understanding of customer requirements and being able to deal with increasing customer demands. Raising the standards of supervisory training is paramount and the apprenticeship with its inclusion of communication skills and wider soft skills, such as problem solving will help to raise the overall quality of training. Asset Skills State of the Sector report shows that in the cleaning sector only 9% have Level 3 qualifications as compared to 18% for all UK sectors. The proportion of cleaning staff in the UK aged under 25 is lower than the average across all UK sectors, whilst the proportion aged over 54 is higher, suggesting that there may be a requirement to attract younger staff.
Almost 1 in 27 of the working population is in the cleaning sector. The vast majority of companies within the sector are small in size and employ 10 or fewer people. However, 50% of all employees within the sector work in organisations of 200 people or more. Asset Skills research indicates that a high proportion of companies are looking to grow over the next 3 years and 27% of companies plan to move into new areas of activity.
Challenges faced by Cleaning companies include:
- Attracting Staff: the poor perception of the sector means that it is often difficult to attract skilled people into the profession;
- Shortage of Skilled Workers: 72% of the the workforce have no qualifications;
- Skills gaps in management, leadership, green issues, technical, literacy and numeracy skills:
- Keeping up with frequently changing legislation;
- Pressure to provide clients with a high level of service at decreasing costs.
Future competencies required by the sector include:
- Management and Leadership
- Communication Skills
- English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL)
- Knowledge of ‘Green’ Products
- Employability Skills
- Technical Knowledge
Employers have been involved with the design of the qualifications in this framework which will develop the critical skills required within the sector. The framework has also been updated to meet the requirements of the Specification of Apprenticeship Standards for England and NAS statement on apprenticeship delivery.
The framework will also contribute to meeting the skills priorities for England by:
- Providing flexible access to a high quality level 2 programme which acts as an alternative to GCSEs for those who prefer this style of learning;
- Incorporating skills to improve the general literacy, numeracy in England;
- Using technical and competence qualifications, valued by employers, to help their confidence and creativity, improving their social and working lives;
- Developing apprentice’s employability skills, making them more attractive to all employers whichever career they choose;
- Providing a career pathway into jobs and training.
Define the Standards for Your Sector
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