BCC and member columns in the news

The British Cleaning Council and members write monthly columns for both Cleaning and Maintenance and Tomorrow’s Cleaning. You can read recent columns below.

To read the columns as they originally appeared, please visit https://cleaningmag.com/columnists and https://www.tomorrowscleaning.com/back-issues

Busting myths about the Level 2 Cleaning Hygiene Operative Apprenticeship

By British Cleaning Council Chair, Delia Cannings. (This article was first published in Tomorrow’s Cleaning in December).

The BCC has recently hosted a series of Zoom information sessions for employers and interested parties about the Level 2 Cleaning Hygiene Operative Apprenticeship.

It was great to see so much interest in the Apprenticeship Standard for the cleaning and hygiene industry.

But this is only the start. Over the coming months, we must raise the profile of the Apprenticeship Standard further and encourage companies to take it up.

The message is clear: If you represent a cleaning and hygiene sector employer interested in developing your workforce as well as accessing funds, then the Level 2 Cleaning Hygiene Operative Apprenticeship is a fantastic opportunity to do both and engage life long learning.

This means employers can use Apprenticeship Levy payments to fund Cleaning Hygiene Operative Apprenticeships for their staff.

It will enable industry businesses to invest in their staff, providing employees an opportunity to access a recognised work-related cleaning qualification.

Apprenticeships benefit businesses by:

• developing a workforce with skills specific to their business

• allowing existing employees to pass on their knowledge to the next generation of employees

• providing businesses with a motivated and fast-developing workforce

• contributing to workforce succession plans

As well as unlocking millions of pounds a year for staff training in the sector, the apprenticeship will help the sector and staff achieve greater recognition for their vital and skilled work which contributes to the health and wealth of the nation.

The tariff for the Apprenticeship Standard has been confirmed as £5,000 per learner, which is inclusive of all aspects and proportionate to the quantity and quality of the work involved.

Interested employers should contact a training provider to discuss the details. Find providers at https://apprenticeshiptrainingproviders.org.uk

During the Zoom workshops, a number of questions came up. It is clear there are some common misunderstandings about the Cleaning Hygiene Operative Apprenticeship in the wider industry, so I want to take this opportunity to do some myth-busting.

Has the Cleaning Hygiene Operative Apprenticeship been confirmed?

I’m delighted to say that the launch day for the Apprenticeship Standard for the whole of the cleaning and hygiene sector has been confirmed as 1 January, 2024. You will be able to view the Apprenticeship Standard and End Point Assessment plan in full by searching on the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (IfATE) website. Watch out for details on the BCC website, BCC social media and in the trade press.

Can companies which do not pay the Apprenticeship Levy put employees through the Cleaning Hygiene Operative standard?

Yes. Full details of the apprenticeship funding rules are available on the Gov UK website.

Who is eligible to do the Level 2 Cleaning Hygiene Operative standard?

Apprentices need to be 16 or over, not in full time education and living in England. This apprenticeship does not apply outside of England.

Is there a minimum number of contracted hours that an operative must work before they are eligible to do the apprenticeship?

No – however, the 12 month minimum duration of each apprenticeship is based on the apprentice working at least 30 hours a week, including any off-the-job training they undertake.

If the apprentice works less than 30 hours a week, the duration of the apprenticeship must be extended.

How long will the new standard take to complete?

The duration of the new standard is 12 months and the window for the apprenticeship to complete their end point assessment is three months.

Do learners need to have any existing qualifications?

There are minimum requirements for functional skills. Maths and English at level one are an essential aspect and a compulsory requirement.

If a learner does not already have these qualifications, training providers will be able to support learners to obtain them.

To see the full list of FAQs and for further information, please visit https://britishcleaningcouncil.org/apprenticeships

Northern Community Group provides new industry channel for collaboration

By Paul Ashton, Chairman of the Cleaning & Support Services Association (CSSA). (This article was first published by Cleaning and Maintenance online).

The formal launch of the CSSA’s Northern Community Group on Wednesday 22 November is a major milestone for our association and the industry as a whole.

The Northern hub, along with the Southern Community Group, are part of the Regional Community Group initiative which we announced in June.

We appealed for rising stars among our sector to join us to help drive the £59bn cleaning, hygiene and waste industry forward, by collaborating with industry leaders and like-minded people.

The overwhelming response and keen interest from members to get involved was truly heartening.

These community groups will provide frequent opportunities for CSSA members and non-members to connect with industry ambassadors to create additional value for our membership, facilitate career paths for future leaders by building a social network based on meaningful engagement, and give access to a wide range of member-only events held nationally.

As we set our trajectory, our mission is vivid: to anchor the CSSA as the leading light in the UK cleaning industry. We’re actively bridging gaps by connecting professionals, amplifying shared knowledge, and ensuring both face-to-face and online interactions remain meaningful and accessible. Together, We Elevate Standards and Raise Profile.

The goals of the CSSA stretch beyond growth in member numbers. The association is deeply invested in stimulating impactful transformations and benchmarking standards in the cleaning industry with an aim to create the ultimate support network, fostering an environment where each member feels heard, empowered, and driven to raise the collective industry profile.

The CSSA’s diverse offerings range from rich industry insights and thought-provoking guest sessions to dynamic Q&As and relevant online content. Plus, our community always has an open invitation for collaborative networking opportunities.

The celebration event for the Northern Community Group will include complimentary refreshments, networking and an introduction from myself.

Attendees will also be introduced to key members of the Northern Community committee: Daisy Hunter of Birkin Group, Daniel Cross of Tennant Company, Lynn Webster of Lynn Webster Consulting Ltd, Nicola Williams of 2Pure, Matt Burtinshaw of Lime Sustainable Supplies, Stuart Turnbull of Bunzl, and Joanne Gilliard of Jangro.

The celebratory launch takes place at the historic Manchester Art Gallery in the city centre on Wednesday 22nd November from 2pm. The event is free to attend and I would like to invite professionals within the cleaning and support services industries, including non-members of the CSSA, to attend. I hope to see you there.

Full details and booking information can be found on the CSSA website.

Human staff need not fear the rise of the robots

By British Cleaning Council (BCC) Chair, Delia Cannings. (This article was first published in Tomorrow’s Cleaning in November).

I was recently at a hospital in Scotland and was fascinated to see they had several robots working shift patterns in the basement of the building, transporting laundry and waste and delivering supplies.

When I remarked on them to a colleague who worked there, she said that the robots all had names given by local school children and even ‘put themselves to bed’ at the end of their shift – presumably to recharge their batteries.

Advances in the field of robots and cobots seem to be coming thick and fast. You only needed to visit this year’s Cleaning Show in London to see the cleaning robots and cobots available in our sector and I’m sure there will be more exhibited at the Manchester show next year.

The Covid-19 pandemic accelerated interest in cleaning and disinfecting robots. It is interesting that prior to the pandemic, cleaning had been considered a low risk, low skill job by some, then suddenly it became a job that carried a significant risk of infection. Combine this factor with staff shortages and robots become critical friends.

Robotic cleaning machines offer many practical advantages ranging from increased productivity, increased sustainability and reducing the risk of accidents.

All this raises a question in the minds of some of the sector’s 1.47m human staff about whether their jobs will be put at risk by the rise of the robots.

I don’t believe that robots will take the jobs of the majority of the UK’s cleaning staff, certainly not in the near future. There will always be a role for skilled and professional human personnel.

During the pandemic, the public demanded, and continue to demand, the reassurance of high cleaning standards in public spaces to protect them from the virus. Cleaning staff perform a vital, frontline role keeping people safe, healthy, and well.

Many businesses and organisations met these demands by adding robots and cobots to their cleaning teams thus enabling more areas to be cleaned.

At around the same time, the industry began suffering severe staff shortages in the wake of Brexit and immigration rules introduced in January 2021 which inaccurately branded cleaning staff as unskilled.

Many of the overseas staff we relied on left and we can’t replace them with UK nationals, who traditionally have not joined the sector. At our last estimate, there were 225,000 cleaning and hygiene vacancies.

We have asked for the same kind of help HGV drivers, butchers and fruit pickers received but this current Government simply refuses to listen, and we continue to lobby them about it. Robots and cobots are being used to fill these gaps in the labour market.

I can’t see the trends of higher standards of cleaning and personnel shortages changing anytime soon, so human cleaning staff will continue to be in demand.

Robots are largely used to do mundane, repetitive and time-consuming cleaning work, freeing up human cleaning staff to devote more time to the areas where their skills are needed the most.

Humans have abilities that are currently irreplaceable, like decision making, creativity, or fine hand dexterity. There are still difficult areas such as crevices, corners, nooks and crannies that, in my opinion, robots can’t reach.

Robots that are designed to be collaborative and work side-by-side with humans, known as cobots, are increasingly popular and cleaning staff are learning to manage their cobot counterparts.

When I stayed in a hotel recently, I could hear a beeping noise and could not identify the source. As I left the room, outside my door was a vacuum robot that had been stuck for at least 10 minutes, hence the beeping sound. Robot productivity was compromised on that occasion.

There are pros and cons to be considered and careful thinking is needed before investment. Informed choices usually lead to successful outcomes.

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