A new healthcare cleaning apprenticeship has been announced and been welcomed by industry bodies the Association for Healthcare Cleaning Professionals (AHCP) and WAMITAB.
Both organisations played an active role in the development of the Level 2 Healthcare Cleaning Operative apprenticeship standard.
The apprenticeship is the only standard with a direct focus on cleaning and so will be important for the cleaning industry.
It will help meet the huge demanded for apprenticeships in the NHS. In order to meet Government targets, the NHS had to start 28,000 apprenticeships in 2017/18, a 75 per cent increase on 2016/17.
The NHS has an Apprenticeship Levy worth £200m, which could be used to fund applicants for the apprenticeship.
The 12-month standard has a funding band of £4,000 and is designed to support those working in healthcare environments that require specific attention to safety and infection control.
This includes a range of both public and private sector environments including NHS hospitals, private hospitals, care homes (nursing and residential), GP practices, community health centres, educational establishments, leisure facilities and pharmaceutical retail outlets.
The apprenticeship involves responsibility for routine and non-routine cleaning, including detailed cleaning and rapid response cleaning to a hygienic standard of cleanliness set by organisational and policy guidelines.
An employer group including healthcare employers, with support from trade unions, universities, education, awarding organisations and number of industry associations has been focusing on
developing an apprenticeship standard for cleaning in healthcare since 2019. The AHCP and WAMITAB both supported the employer group.
Chris James, CEO at WAMITAB, said: “We are delighted to have been involved in the development of this apprenticeship; it is very positive that there is now a standard with direct relevance for the cleaning industry.
“The timing is excellent too, as the recent changes in funding mean that it will be accessible to all companies whether or not they pay the levy.
“WAMITAB looks forward to working with cleaning industry employers once we have completed the formalities of the approval process for taking on the end-point assessment role.”
Delia Cannings, the National Lead for Education and Training for the AHCP, said: “There is a real thirst for regulated qualifications within the health care sector. NHS Trusts across the country are eager to commence a programme which has the fundamental health care cleaning aspects embedded.
“Going forward the practical cleaning application will be delivered wrapped up in knowledge which is focussed on the prevention of infection whilst embracing environmental awareness.
“The benefits of an apprenticeship tailored exactly to the needs of health care establishments are clear. Apprenticeship Levy funding will support the NHS to offer increased training opportunities, despite financial pressures.
“The apprenticeship programme will also encourage the use of the most up-to-date technology and help maintain the highest standards of cleanliness possible on NHS properties.
“Together with the new health care cleaning standards, it will provide a solid foundation for a highly-skilled and professional health care cleaning workforce for years to come.”
Apprentices without English and mathematics at level 2 must achieve English and mathematics at level 1 and take the tests for level 2 prior to taking their end-point assessment (EPA).
The apprenticeship is open to graduates, non-graduates and school leavers working in England, with no upper age restriction.
Delivery must be undertaken by an approved training provider and will include a mixture of on-the-job and a minimum of 20 per cent off-the-job learning, which may be off-site or on employer premises but away from immediate work pressure.
Apprentices will be assessed via a knowledge test; observation with questioning and a structured interview, underpinned by a portfolio of evidence.
For further information, visit https://www.instituteforapprenticeships.org/apprenticeship-standards/healthcare-cleaning-operative/