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Veteran hospital cleaner Lise Taisalika has caught the professional development bug and is on a mission to upskill her way into a managerial position.


Joining Auckland Hospital 11 years ago as a part-time cleaner, Lise has since upskilled her to way to becoming a fulltime supervisor, overseeing a team of up to 48 cleaning support staff.

Through her job with Auckland District Health Board (ADHB), which works closely with Industry Training Organisation (ITO) Careerforce, Mrs Taisalika has accessed a range of workplace training programmes, allowing her to learn and achieve formal qualifications while at work.

After recently graduating with the New Zealand Certificate in Cleaning (Level 3) qualification, Lise has completed further training to become a Workplace Assessor, a role where she can share her skills and experience with the rest of the team.

“This is a really good opportunity for me and a good challenge for me professionally,” Mrs Taisalika says. “In my role as supervisor I already work closely with all my staff, so I know a lot about them.

As a workplace assessor, Mrs Taisalika will draw upon her own qualifications and industry experience to mentor and formally assess trainees, to ensure their skills, experience and hard work are recognised in line with NZQA requirements.

She sees this new responsibility as a great way to help her staff achieve their qualification journey, and another step towards her own personal goal of a managerial position.

“Since I was a young girl helping out in my family business, I always wanted to be the boss,” she laughs, recalling her childhood in Samoa.

Upon coming to New Zealand as a young woman, Ms Taisalika recalls working up to 80 hour weeks across a range of different jobs, before landing a position with Auckland Hospital and taking the first steps of her training journey.

Training & Service Improvement Manager Dinesh Sundararaj, has a staunch supporter of Ms Taisalika’s training and says ADHB is committed to investing in the professional development of its cleaning staff.

“Our main driver is to recognise staff and their valuable contribution to patient outcomes by supporting them to achieve a level of qualification, which for many is the first formal qualifications they have ever received,” Mr Sundararaj says.

Over 60 staff from Auckland Hospital’s non-clinical support services were awarded the New Zealand Certificate in Cleaning (Level 2 and Level 3) at a graduation ceremony in March.

Mr Sundararaj says for many staff, this was the first formal qualification they had received since leaving school.

“Many of our cleaning staff have spent many years in the service, yet not undertaken any professional or recognised qualification pathways apart from service training,” says Mr Sundararaj says.

“Most of them are still riding a high following completion of this qualification.”

Careerforce Business Development Manager Penny Barrett says the cleaning qualification recognises a level of skill that emphasises the important role cleaning staff play and highlights numerous skills specific to a healthcare setting.

“Careerforce’s Level 2 and Level 3 qualifications also provide cleaning staff with formal qualifications and opportunities to pursue a clear career pathway,” Ms Barrett says.

There are several professional development opportunities for team leaders and supervisors within the cleaning industry, particularly with the creation of Careerforce’s supervisory Level 3 strand.

This qualification is ideal for those experienced cleaners who want to gain the valuable skills and knowledge to be able to lead a team of cleaners.

“Some of those people may then choose to look at our new Level 4 Business Qualifications, which are due for release later this year,” Ms Barrett says.

The development of the cleaning industry business qualifications means there are now clear career pathways for those who want to take on a team leader, managerial or administrative role in their organisation.