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Cleaning and hygiene industry urged to support apprenticeships bid

A group of employers who have come together to represent the cleaning and hygiene sector are calling for industry support by 24 May for an accredited training provision in the format of an apprenticeship scheme for the sector.

The employer group, comprising major companies from the sector along with supporting stakeholders, has formed an Apprenticeship Trailblazer group.

The group has already contacted the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (IfATE) to seek approval to develop a proposal for the industrywide Professional Cleaning and Hygiene Operative apprenticeship.

The proposal needs backing from industry and the Trailblazer group is contacting a wide range of businesses and organisations in the cleaning and hygiene sector to ask for their support.

Businesses and stakeholders in the sector are being urged to email in support to compsec@britishcleaningcouncil.org by 24 May.

Supporting letters and emails will be presented to the IfATE as part of evidence demonstrating the requirement and demand in the sector for the proposed apprenticeship.

The Trailblazer group was set up by the British Cleaning Council (BCC) in April and has already won widespread support from the industry.

Representatives from a wide range of companies are taking part including:

  • Sodexo
  • Exclusive Contracts
  • Principle Clean
  • OCS
  • Mitie
  • NIC

Supporting stakeholders in the Trailblazer group include:

  • Association of Healthcare Cleaning Professionals (ahcp)
  • British Institute of Cleaning Science (BICSc)
  • Chartered Institution of Wastes Management (CIWM)
  • Cleaning and Support Services Association (CSSA)
  • National Carpet Cleaners Association (NCCA)
  • Worshipful Company of Environmental Cleaners (WCEC)
  • Business Services Association (BSA)

If given the greenlight, the Trailblazer would first share its proposals with the newly formed All-Party Parliamentary Group for the UK Cleaning and Hygiene Industry, with the idea of winning the backing of MPs and Members of the House of Lords. The proposals must ultimately be accepted by the IfATE.

The proposed apprenticeship has won widespread support because a highly significant number of cleaning and hygiene companies pay into the Apprenticeship Levy without getting the benefit of being able to fund apprentices themselves for all or some of their core business activities.

The Healthcare Cleaning Operative (HCO) apprenticeship, approved in early 2020, was developed specifically for those cleaning operatives working in the healthcare sector, which leaves operatives in the wider sector unrepresented in the apprenticeship space now that the popular Cleaning and Support Services apprenticeship framework has been withdrawn.

The HCO apprenticeship demonstrates the technical skills and significant training needed by operatives which is mirrored in the wider sector.

Chair of the Trailblazer group, Head of Cleaning at Sodexo UK & Ireland, Lauren Kyle said: “At the moment, many companies in the sector are paying the Apprenticeship Levy without getting any benefit.

“Some businesses outside of the healthcare sector have tried to adopt the HCO apprenticeship but it just isn’t the right fit.

“We need an apprenticeship designed specifically for the rest of the cleaning industry and to do this we need to present as much evidence as possible, which is why we are asking any businesses is in the cleaning and hygiene industry who agree that an accredited training and apprenticeship scheme is needed to email their backing.”

British Cleaning Council Deputy Chair Jim Melvin is part of the Trailblazer group. He said: “There is an overwhelming need for an industry-wide training accreditation and apprenticeship.

“The remarkable and vital work of our cleaning and hygiene colleagues during the pandemic has demonstrated both the importance as well as the skilled nature of our sector’s work. It should no longer be in question

“If cleaning is carried out incorrectly, it may potentially compromise people’s health and wellbeing and also potentially delay the recovery from Covid-19. On that basis, and for a number of other reasons, we need to put a framework in place that ensures staff are trained properly and provides a recognised apprenticeship process.

“Additionally the recent Immigration Bill may in time result in it being harder for potential employees from overseas to enter the UK and work within our industry, especially if some people persist in the unfathomable belief that it’s okay for our tasks and jobs to be thought of as low-skilled. They are not.

“Having an industry-agreed training accreditation and apprenticeship will demonstrate that ours is a skilled profession and help us in lobbying Government for changes where required.

“The pandemic has also gone some way to changing the perception of our industry with much more recognition as to the value of our industry’s work. In that regard, the timing could not be better.”

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.

In 2017, the IfATE turned down a proposal to develop an all-encompassing replacement for the Level 2 Cleaning and Support Services apprenticeship citing that the healthcare route was the only viable pathway to be developed. The employer Trailblazer group seek to challenge this decision.

About Sarah OBeirne

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