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The commercial cleaning industry is facing rapid change. New technologies, increasing social responsibility and the drive for sustainable business practices are all factors reshaping the industry landscape.

To support this transformation while continuing to meet the needs of the sector, frontline staff, management and employers all need to be equipped with the latest knowledge.

This has led to a review of the industry’s current training practices. From June this year, an examination will begin on the cleaning qualifications listed on the New Zealand Qualification Framework (NZQF).

This includes the New Zealand Certificate in Cleaning (Level 2) with optional endorsement in Healthcare Facilities Cleaning and the New Zealand Certificate in Cleaning (Level 3) with optional strands in Specialist Cleaning and Supervision.

Industry training organisation (ITO) Careerforce is the New Zealand Qualification Authority (NZQA) developer for the cleaning industry, as well as the government appointed body that sets skills standards and facilitates the achievement of NZQA qualifications for the sector.

Careerforce offers qualifications to advance the skills of the cleaning workforce from entry level to providing specialist skills in areas such as healthcare facility cleaning, carpet and textiles, contagion and specialised infection control, hard floor surfaces, food production and high-risk environments. 

Click here to see the range of qualifications for the cleaning sector.

Jane Wenman CEO of Careerforce, says the impending review will ensure the qualifications offered are fit-for-purpose and continue to reflect industry requirements.

“There have been a few changes within the industry in recent years such as the increased use of chemical free cleaning and new [equipment] technology. Because of this we want to make sure the qualifications [Certificate in Cleaning (Level 2) and Certificate in Cleaning (Level 3)] remain relevant,” she says.

“These qualifications are also often the first step for trainees in their learning journey so it’s important they are given the most up-to-date industry knowledge.”

Careerforce will be working closely with individuals, interest groups, sector representatives, tertiary education organisations and employers to gather feedback. This is expected to be via a combination of online consultation and face to face meetings.

The review will consider the qualification details, specifications and conditions to ensure they reflect the skills, knowledge and application expected to be demonstrated as graduate outcomes.

“A big part of the review is that we have all stakeholders engaged in the process. It is really important we hear from as many people as possible about what they need in the qualifications.”

Retention benefits

Training is often an overlooked aspect of business yet is one of the most important. It is understood there are around 40,000 people currently employed in New Zealand’s cleaning sector, with growth expected in the coming years.

However, the retention of frontline team members is a continual challenge facing the industry, with many companies failing to realise training is an investment in the stability and longevity of their business. Wenman agrees and says training should be viewed as a motivation and retention tool, not a risk.

“We often hear that employers are weary of [investing in] training because there is a high turnover of staff [in the cleaning sector]. But when you offer training and provide a pathway it helps retain employees. Staff are more likely to stay when they know there is a learning journey ahead of them.

“Training should be used as a retention tool, rather than be seen as a risk – that after you provide [training] to staff you are going to lose them. It is not playing out that way in the workforce.”

Commercial cleaning service provider Kleenrite puts every staff member who has been with the company for a year through training to achieve the New Zealand Certificate in Cleaning Level 2. The service provider also offers those interested to progress to higher level qualifications.

Kleenrite has more than 120 staff across its brands Kleenrite (Auckland), Orbit Cleaning and ToTal Maintenance Solutions. The company’s goal is to be as close as possible to 100 per cent fully trained on Level 2.

Yvonne Percival, Kleenrite customer services manager, can attest to the quality of work and service improving as a result of training. Supporting staff to achieve a qualification is an investment Kleenrite is happy to make – since they believe it pays off in terms of client satisfaction.

“It also gives them a sense of ownership. A sense of self-worth. We get it back tenfold,” says Percival. “I think [staff] sometimes don’t quite believe that the certificate is theirs, like it’s the company’s, but it’s not. It’s theirs.”

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Feature courtesy of InClean NZ  – May 2019