Every day is a school day!

23 February 2024

Neil Spencer-Cook describes the need for perpetual learning in the cleaning sector through collaborations, as well as the evolving focus on public health, and the value of apprenticeships.

"Every day is a school day!"

How many times do you hear the above phrase? I hear it regularly and, to be honest, say it or at least think it regularly. It may be a regional phrase but the sentiment of it is very valid. We, and I include myself in that, cannot know everything and gaining knowledge at any point, particularly around my role and the cleaning industry, can only be a good thing. 

I have mentioned the increased collaboration in the industry in several of my previous articles in this magazine, and I am finding that the more BICSc collaborate with other organisations and associations the more “every day is a school day”. Let me explain more!

I am starting off with the CSSA. BICSc has a focus around the cleaning operative, standards for training and best practice, and around productivity. The CSSA brings like-minded individuals together and has a focus on technology, ESG, data and processes. Bringing the knowledge of these two organisations together in the “Future of Cleaning Initiative” means that a more rounded result can be achieved, more knowledge can be shared, BICSc will gain invaluable knowledge around productivity rates which incorporate new technologies and will find out infinitely more around the application of these technologies in the workplace. 

Moving onto the Clean and Tidy Home Show, our collaboration with this organisation was to engage with the consumer market. Cleaning is needed everywhere, and the home is no different, so bringing BICSc to the home market was where this started. In the two years of being involved I have learnt so much, not only do a lot of the same issues the commercial market has occur in the home, but there are many new ones too. Mental health and cleanliness are a big focus for Clean and Tidy and this is now also coming more into focus in the commercial world, but the collaboration here gave BICSc a slight head start to investigate this. 

I am going to make a statement that you may or may not agree with but in my opinion, cleaning operatives are the gatekeepers of public health. Every environment we move into outside our home needs to be considered from a public health point of view. I think we focus on hospitals and public health but aren’t supermarkets, train stations, airports, hotels, and restaurants just as important? These are public areas and need to consider public health as well. The team being more involved with the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) has meant we are looking at things at BICSc differently. 

I’ve always had a very good understanding of apprenticeships, but with the introduction of the Level 2 Cleaning and Hygiene apprenticeship it has meant that I have had to delve even deeper into some of the finer details to learn more about them to assist in promoting the value of the apprenticeship in collaboration with the BCC. It has also meant I now know of other apprenticeships that may suit our industry that I wasn’t aware of before. 

So, I return to the title of this piece “Every day is a school day.” We are never too old to learn something new, I for one love to gain more knowledge, it keeps my mind active and makes me look at things differently. I have never been one to just accept that because we have always done it this way we should just carry on. There might be an easier way, a more effective way, a cheaper way, a quicker way, a safer way, or any combination of these you would like to pick. Sharing knowledge is key, another phrase about to appear – “two brains are better than one.” Their opinions may differ to start with, but I always find there is a common ground that can be found in any situation.  

I think it is key to keep collaborating and to keep learning – “Every day is a school day.”

Neil Spencer-Cook is group managing director at BICSc.

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