Cleaning professionals make a difference in 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.
There are 12,900 people employed in the Cleaning sector in Wales. 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: 65% of the cleaning workforce in Wales have below Level 2 or no qualifications;
- Skills gaps in management & leadership, green issues, technical, literacy, and numeracy skills;
- Keeping up with changing legislation;
- Pressure to continue to provide clients with a high level of service at a lower cost.
The Foundation 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 the best practices.
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.
Future competencies required by the sector include:
- Management and Leadership;
- Communication Skills;
- English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL);
- Knowledge and awareness of ‘green’ products;
- Employability skills for those entering elementary job roles;
- 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 and the framework has also been updated to meet the requirements of the Specification of Apprenticeship Standards for Wales (SASW).
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