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Improving recognition, training, career development & working conditions for the cleaning industry

04 July 2016

I was asked last year by the Business Services Association (BSA) to take on the chair of their Cleaning Committee. The Cleaning Committee was formed in 2013, in response to interest from BSA members operating cleaning services within the FM industry. During the first two years of the committee’s existence the Responsible Cleaner Scheme – a series of commitments drafted by member organisations, was agreed and published.

I recognised that this was an exciting opportunity for Sodexo to take a lead role in supporting the committee to build on this collaboration to highlight the importance of the cleaning industry – both to the UK economy, and to public health within society.

What I really enjoy about the role is that, although the members of the group work for competing organisations, there is a collective passion for cleaning and an appreciation of the skill and hard work it takes to maintain the built environment.

Over the past year, we have covered a range of topics. One of the key areas of focus is the Apprenticeship Levy and the development of trailblazer apprenticeships. In October 2015, I chaired a ‘roundtable’ discussion on apprenticeships, attended by members of the BSA HR committee, including Andy Rogers, our own UK & I HR Director, as well as members of the cleaning committee.

We heard from a range of guest speakers from industry, the Skills Funding Agency, and a think tank advising government on apprenticeships.

Since then a number of member organisations, including Sodexo, have committed to involvement with the development of a trailblazer apprenticeship for cleaning, involving a wide range of stakeholders. As a major provider of cleaning services in the UK and Ireland, I believe it’s essential that we contribute to shaping the future of learning within this diverse and exciting part of the FM industry.

In May 2016, the BSA has published a revised version of the RCS – now re-named as the Responsible Cleaning Provider Scheme. The committee has updated the commitments to include a reference to the responsible procurement principles, drawn up by the EHRC as part of their recent focus on the cleaning industry.

The industry is full of committed individuals, many of whom dedicate their professional lives to improving training, career development, working conditions, and recognition for all those working in cleaning. I’m proud to have this opportunity to contribute to this on-going work.

Written by Lauren Kyle, head of cleaning at Sodexo UK & Ireland