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“As a cleaner, you sometimes feel that you’re at the bottom of the hierarchy. Sometimes it’s nice to have that formal qualification to give you a boost.”

Haley Taylor has worked for Laura Fergusson Trust (Wellington) as a facilities cleaner for over ten years and she loves it. She enjoys the environment and the flexibility suits her lifestyle. “It’s really rewarding. I come in and am able to make a difference to the clients.”

Ten years ago, Haley would never have dreamt she would be qualified to supervise a team of five cleaners and be on a mission to take her studies further.

The Laura Fergusson Trust is very proactive in encouraging training. Thanks to a Careerforce work based training programme supported by the Trust, Haley was the first in the organisation to complete a New Zealand Certificate in cleaning (Level 3) Supervision Strand. Now she is embarking on a New Zealand Diploma in Business (Levels 5) Leadership and Management qualification, that could take her one step closer to management.

Haley’s employer, Laura Fergusson Trust is an independent, charitable trust that provides opportunities for people with disabilities to pursue a supported and independent lifestyle.

“A full clean once a week includes general housecleaning: dusting, polishing, vacuuming, mopping. Then I also do some carpet cleaning using the specialist carpet cleaning skills I learnt in the qualification strand I did last year.

“Part of the role almost borders on caregiving or supporting as we try to help some of the clients clean for themselves.  I work alongside some of them and encourage them to dust their own room or vacuum their own room, while I’m doing other areas that they might not be able to do. You get to know the residents very well.

“When you say you’re a cleaner, a lot of people say, ‘why do you want to do that?’ But I think there is more to it that just cleaning as such.

It’s a very physical job, there is lots of bending, stretching, lifting, and you do need to have common sense and general knowledge on what you’re doing. 

“When thinking about the training, I didn’t need a lot of encouragement. For me it was more about getting back into study without jumping right in. So, Level 3 was a nice place to begin. So that’s what brought me to do the qualification in my mind. But I jumped at it when they put the proposal to me. 

“Sometimes I found it a little challenging – being the first and not having a go-to person.  A lot of it was gathering the evidence and getting the observations. It’s made me more aware of things that have just become a habit for me. So, it was good to just reiterate that I’m doing the correct things and following the correct processes. 

“It’s nice to be recognised for being more than just a cleaner – to have that qualification and for people to realise that there’s a right way and a wrong way to do it. As a cleaner, you sometimes feel that you’re at the bottom of the hierarchy. Sometimes it’s nice to have that formal qualification to give you a boost.

The Laura Fergusson Trust has recognised Haley’s capability and suggested that she embark on the Level 5 Business qualification. Careerforce Business Development Consultant, Mark Wootton, looked at what Haley was doing and going to be doing, and the level 5 fitted well. He felt that it might help her to grow and develop her role.

“I guess they initially pushed me to look at it,” says Haley, “but when I read further into it, I‘ve sort of pushed a bit more and I’d really like to do this. Having such a qualification can lead into other fields. I quite like that it gets me thinking about my future.

“Moving from Level 3 to Level 5 did scare me to start with, but after having my initial catch up meeting with Mark, he took away my nerves. It’s going to take me further into a team leader role. I’m looking after a team of cleaners, who don’t have the qualifications and I’ll be encouraging them to do the Level 2 Cleaning. Having me as a support person/coach or ‘go to’ person will help them join the dots.

“Working as a cleaner at the Laura Fergusson Trust, the most important thing for me is that I can walk away and feel like I’ve made a difference to the residents.

“Careerforce have been very supportive and encouraging about everything; I was feeling nervous about jumping from 3 to 5, but my Careerforce contact took away my nerves so now I feel quite at ease about it.”

Follow these links for more information about Cleaning and Business qualifications

Courtesy INCLEAN New Zealand