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BICSc launches training app at Interclean 07/06/2024

THE BRITISH Institute of Cleaning Science (BICSc) announced the exclusive launch of the new BICSc Training App at Interclean Amsterdam 2024.

For the first time ever, the Institute’s popular Virtual Training Suite has been launched in app form, with news of the industry-wide introduction of the inaugural training app revealed at the show. 

In another first, as well as revealing the new training app at the BICSc stand, experts from the Institute were specially selected to host live demonstrations within healthcare settings at the show, which ran from 14-17 May.

The BICSc Training App allows users to access all their training on the go. In addition to accessing training online, the app enables candidates to also utilise tablets and mobile devices for their training requirements. 

The latest addition adds to the breadth of training options available giving candidates the choice to train face-to-face, from their desktop/laptop, or on the go as BICSc continues to evolve, pushing the boundaries and harnessing the latest technologies in the process. 

BICSc group managing director, Neil Spencer-Cook, said: “This is a fantastic development for BICSc. We’re thrilled to be adding to our already comprehensive offering by announcing the news of our third app, designed to make life easier for our members and training candidates.

“I am delighted we are able to continue evolving in the way that we are, giving all candidates the choice of how they want to train because everybody is different and has their own approach to learning and training. We want to ensure all our wide-ranging content is easier to view and accessible no matter where you are in the world. 

“By announcing the launch of our latest app, we are demonstrating how we continue to fulfil our mission of protecting the operative, by ensuring they’re not only getting the correct training but that they are also able to access the training in a way that suits them and their lifestyle.” 

At Interclean Amsterdam, the BICSc team of professionals hosted a range of live demonstrations focused on healthcare settings.

Experts from BICSc were specially selected to deliver demonstrations and share knowledge at the show’s healthcare arena. Delegates attending the show and healthcare setting, within the Healthcare Cleaning Forum, witnessed live, detailed demonstrations focusing on environmental healthcare cleaning.

The live, informative demonstrations were conducted by BICSc commercial director, Denise Hanson, who was joined by technical specialist, Kelsey Hargreaves. They showed how to clean effectively and efficiently as part of the demonstrations, which were held in hospital settings to teach about specialised cleaning method guidelines, dress codes, hand hygiene, and more.

For more information go to https://www.bics.org.uk/ 

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Creating a career in cleaning?  Is there only one route in?  23/04/2024

Neil Spencer-Cook urges a shift from the conventional approach to discussing career paths in the cleaning industry and advocates for greater visibility of diverse career opportunities beyond cleaning operative roles.

I AM not sure about you, but I hear this regularly or a variation of it. Whilst I do think to attract people into the industry, we do need to show that there are career paths available, we spend so much time focusing on discussing this and portraying our unique business understanding of this, whether it’s a soft service career, an FM career, or any variation of that, at no point do we consider the person whose career it will be. 

If you are anything like me, I do not react well to being told this should be your next step in your career, although I am now of an age where people say this to me less, I have always had an objection to someone telling me you should be “there” next. To be fair, I must thank these people as they have meant I have made the decisions (usually to prove them wrong) I have, to get me where I am now. 

Back to my point, each one of us is different and have differing views on many things, why would we not think that someone joining the industry is the same?  Do we not train based on including everybody and adapting our training style as much as possible to ensure every candidate gets as much as possible from the training? 

Then why would we dictate or guide them on a fixed career path?  Like I said at the beginning we do need to show that there are career paths to encourage people to join the industry, but I am not sure we should guide them along a fixed career path. 

Isn’t it like everything in life, some of us go to university, some of us don’t, some of us start in retail and end up in finance, or end up in management, some of us are happy to stay at a certain level and keep going enjoying what we do.  Everyone is different and I think this is the biggest thing we can learn whilst we are constantly trying to manage the narrative around careers in cleaning. 

What are the careers in cleaning? Well where do you start? Any business has many common functions; supervisors, managers, sales, marketing, finance, admin, operations, IT, and purchasing; no matter what industry you are in these careers exist, but when we talk careers in cleaning it is always about starting as a cleaning operative! Is this what we are doing wrong?  Is this the thing we are missing?

What really occurred to me while the Youth Employment careers page was being produced was, why are these only now being published as careers in the industry? You see the job ads in the relevant places, but do you ever think why are we not shouting about this is a job in the cleaning industry or do we do as we always seem to and keep that part quiet as it might not appeal?  

Why are we not proud of the industry we work within?  Why are we often heard to be the most negative about the industry we work in?  I fell into cleaning; I only took this job for a short term whilst I was…  but didn’t move on, there are so many of these stories that I have been told, along with comments like I am only a cleaner, we ourselves portray the most negative impression of the industry. 

I for one am proud to be part of this vibrant and dynamic industry, that faces all the challenges of any industry along with some unique ones and I am also here to celebrate individuality, and not try to pigeonhole any individual into a particular career path. I will happily share where things could go and options available, but I will never be one to say you should be doing this next, because if they are anything like me that will mean they go off and look for something else. 

Neil Spencer-Cook is group managing director at BICSc.

For more information visit www.bics.org.uk

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Imposter syndrome should not be part of infection control 15/03/2024

Kelsey Hargreaves highlights the crucial role of cleaning professionals in various infection control measures and emphasises the importance of risk analysis, hygiene practices, and safety protocols followed by cleaning operatives.

VERY OFTEN I find myself writing these articles, trying to some way sell to the reader that I am a confident cleaning professional. Confident and assured in the knowledge that I am a “specialist” in my background of healthcare.

Well, it’s time to be completely honest. Every year I attend multiple infection prevention and control events, from talks, exhibitions, to webinars and have even presented at some conferences myself, and yet, even after years of working within and around healthcare cleaning, I still find myself with huge bouts of imposter syndrome.

I can’t even begin to tell you the number of times I have sat completely perplexed as an IPC Nurse starts talking about microbial infections, or new treatments tested on Methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus. To be frank, sometimes I am left feeling completely lost and as some sort of fraud being recognised as part of the infection control professional community.

Now, I’m not going to sit here and say that I have the answers to microbial resistance, nor I am going to humour you with my home remedies of the flu, (a good old cup of tea and a shepherd’s pie – thank me later). But what I am going to do, is remind you, and in some ways myself, of the role our amazing cleaning industry professionals play in infection control, whether inside or outside of the industry. 

Infection control precautions

Coming from a healthcare background, I am familiar with the NHS England’s ‘Standard Infection Control Precautions’, and although I am aware that there are other precautions outside of this version, I think the premise of these precautions are universal:

1 Patient placement/assessment for infection risk

2 Hand hygiene

3 Respiratory and cough hygiene

4 Personal protective equipment (PPE)

5 Safe management of care equipment

6 Safe management of the care environment

7 Safe management of linen

8 Safe management of blood and body fluid spillages

9 Safe disposal of waste (including sharps)

10 Occupational safety: prevention of exposure (including sharps injuries).

You can probably gather what is going to come next, but I’m going to take a deeper dive now into the role that our cleaning professionals play, both in and out of the normal healthcare setting to follow and promote these standard infection control precautions.

Patient placement/assessment for infection risk

On a day-to-day basis, all levels of the cleaning services teams carry out risk analysis. Our cleaning operatives assess risk within their cleaning workplaces. A ‘dynamic risk assessment’ should be carried out with every task our operatives do. Yes, they check for pests and damage, but they also protect themselves and check their areas in relation to the infection risk they may be surrounded by. Supervisors and managers write policies to ensure that operatives and stakeholders are kept safe, with adherence to correct PPE, training and use of different chemicals (detergent/disinfection) and even go as far as assessing who is appropriate to work in certain areas, in following guidance and policies around people’s occupational assessments. Our whole cleaning service management is based around risk analysis and solving the problems this presents to the public. 

Hand hygiene

Unsurprisingly, hand hygiene is considered one of the most important ways to reduce the transmission of infectious agents and the spread of infection. Long before the hand washing epidemic caused by the novel Coronavirus, cleaning professionals held hand hygiene as an imperative practice in the cleaning of any facility. Cleaning professionals have really led the way for correct hand hygiene procedure, ensuring that correct practice is trained into inductions, refreshers, and that the availability of hand washing facilities is available to operatives. 

Respiratory and cough hygiene

Respiratory and cough hygiene is promoted to minimise the risk of cross transmission of any respiratory pathogens. Respiratory and cough hygiene is not too dissimilar to hand hygiene, whereby should any respiratory problems cause a form of contamination of surfaces, whether on a person’s body or on an environment, should be cleaned as necessary. We have already highlighted that cleaning professionals are the leaders of hand hygiene practice, and clearly the removal of contamination on environmental surface. But in this case, we should think about the cleaning community’s adherence to PPE, and the wearing of respiratory PPE not only in accordance with Coronavirus regulations, but in abidance with pro-active risk assessments that our industry readily prepares in its knowledge of infection control. 

Personal protective equipment (PPE)

This brings me very nicely onto PPE, which is 1.4. It is noted in the NHS protocols that before undertaking any procedure, “staff should assess any likely exposure to blood and/or other body fluids… and wear personal protective equipment (PPE) that protects adequately against the risks associated with the procedure”. Our incredible operatives do this every-day, they avoid overuse of PPE, they follow company procedure, and they ensure, to the best of their ability, training and access that they protect themselves and others. Correctly trained cleaning operatives are true PPE specialists. Don’t agree? I challenge you to a PPE donning race against anyone that has cleaned washrooms to BICSc standard before! It is imperative we train our staff in the best use of PPE and the appropriate PPE for differing scenarios. 

Safe management of care equipment

I’m going to change this, so it fits the whole cleaning industry, to safe management of equipment. Any element in a room can be contaminated. Contamination can be blood, other body fluids, secretions, excretions, and most appropriately for this article, infectious agents. Clearly, when our cleaning teams remove this contamination by following correct risk and damage environment assessment, damage assessment of the element, colour-coding, cleaning practice and disposal practice, the operative takes part in the safe management of equipment. 

Safe management of the care environment

With operatives checking the state of repair of each element in a room, we know that they also check the repair of the whole environment. It is key that we have assurance systems in place to ensure that the environments we clean are visibly free from clutter to facilitate efficient and effective infection-controlled cleaning. Whenever we audit, inspect, or re-align our work to safe standard, we are following a safe management of the environment we clean.

Safe management of linen

Whether we immediately think it or not, linen is a big part of the cleaning process. Within healthcare and hotels, linen forms a part of bedding. Within transport, manufacturing, and hospitality, for example, the uses of linen can be endless. So, it begs the question, what involvement do operatives have in this linen process? What safety precautions do we need to introduce to ensure that linen is managed safely? Think it has no relevance? What materials do operatives use on site? Where fabrics are used on site to clean with, such as microfibre, operatives are key in the safe use, laundry process, and storage of this linen management, it is imperative they have the correct training in how to do so. 

Safe management of blood and body fluid spillages

Believe it or not blood and body fluid spillages happen even outside of healthcare, as do blood borne viruses. All appropriate staff should be trained in dealing with body fluids and spillages and responsibilities for the management and cleaning of these should be clear among all stakeholders and cleaning operatives. Whether an operative cleans blood/ bodily fluids or not, they are still key in the safe management of them. 

Safe disposal of waste (including sharps)

The disposal of waste is central to the cleaning service. Not only do our cleaning operatives remove contamination, but within their remit, they remove waste. Central to good waste management is the safety that comes alongside this! Inside and outside of healthcare, different facilities have different waste disposal management, different colours for different waste, our operatives must be specialists in selecting the right method of disposal while remaining safe and free from the potential hazards that this can cause. 

Occupational safety: prevention of exposure (including sharps injuries)

I can’t begin to tell you how many times I’ve heard: “No, we don’t have a sharps box, we aren’t a hospital.” Silly me! I forgot that needles, scissors, safety pins, screws, glass (to name a few!) only exist in healthcare, gosh, they didn’t teach me that in my NHS induction! Cleaning operatives come across sharps in waste and in general cleaning exposure daily, so it is imperative we give them the tools to keep themselves safe. Even if an operative is not responsible for the removal of sharps, accidents can happen, and operatives should have immediate access to first aid and help following the worst-case scenario. 

I think I need these 10 points saving into my mental wellbeing journal every time I start to feel like an imposter when the words 'infection control' appear! It is very easy to forget all we do as members of the cleaning industry, and all that our amazing operatives do. When we recognise the assurance systems, safety systems, and risk systems we put in place off the ground floor, and we think of the amazing skill, adherence, and practice that our cleaning operatives follow on the ground, it is imperative to remember that we, our industry, are part of a cog in a bigger life-saving model. Infection control isn’t just present in healthcare, and it isn’t only nurses that are infection control specialists.

Well, what a reflective 1500-word journey we have been on! I’m off now to change my Linkedin bio!

Kelsey Hargreaves is technical specialist at BICSc.

For more information visit www.bics.org.uk

Tel: 01604 678710

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Every day is a school day! 23/02/2024

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.

For more information visit www.bics.org.uk

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BICSc and CSSA collaborate on innovative industry research 23/02/2024

EXPERTS FROM The British Institute of Cleaning Science (BICSc) and the Cleaning and Support Services Association (CSSA) have joined forces to work in partnership on an innovative pioneering project – The Future of Cleaning initiative.


An industry first, this ground-breaking collaboration between the two organisations has been launched in partnership with the University of Surrey and is aimed at exploring innovation in the cleaning industry.

The study will be at the forefront of an exciting new era in the industry and will look at the impact that machinery, IoT sensors, robotics, and data collectors can have on the actual process of cleaning.

BICSc Group Managing Director, Neil Spencer-Cook, said: “The revolutionary research will explore the benefits of using automation in terms of productivity, cleanliness and hygiene. We want to understand what differences in training needs will be required when introducing these technologies to the cleaning community. Denise Hanson, BICSc Commercial Director, who is an expert in technical cleaning, and Dr Andrew Kemp, alongside the BICSc Scientific Advisory Board, will be heavily involved in the ongoing research project.”

Several companies operating within the professional cleaning industry are involved with the pioneering project, supplying the equipment and latest technologies that will be utilised as part of the study.

An inaugural meeting was held in January to launch the trial, which is the brainchild of Chair of BICSc Soo Bartholomew. Over the coming months, various trials will take place on the university campus, which was selected because the majority of its current cleaning processes are conducted manually. The study will also establish a better understanding of the training needs for effective technology deployment and its influence on best practices. 

Neil explained: “This is an industry first, a ground-breaking collaboration on the future of cleaning. It will be fascinating to see the results as within the industry there are so many differing opinions on the effectiveness of robotics, which I see as a good thing. This study will hopefully prove the value robotics and technology can have within the cleaning community. 

“The cleaning industry is slow in its take up of technology and this study will hopefully help shine a spotlight on the benefits that technology can bring to the industry. This is the first study of its kind bringing together our industry leading organisations and the aim ultimately is to prove that technology and robotics can make the cleaning industry more efficient and as effective, if not more, than it currently is.”

Paul Ashton, CSSA Chairman, said: “The CSSA is passionate about the future of cleaning. Our objective is to understand how the latest technology and innovation, such as IoT sensors and robotics are impacting on cleaning regimes in real terms. We intend to answer key questions including: what are realistic productivity gains when using automation and how does the tech impact on best practice guidelines?

“Robust testing will be conducted under the guidance of Dr Andrew Kemp, Head of BICSc Scientific Advisory Board, so we can be reassured that there will be validated data collected to drive tangible outcomes. This is a real milestone for our industry as we see two leading forces in our industry collaborate to create genuine impact in an area that is gaining more and more focus.”

It is hoped that the study, which will be conducted over several months and conducted in collaboration with Ellis Foy and the team at the university campus, will also help to debunk some myths.

Neil Spencer-Cook added: “This is an exciting new development for our industry and BICSc is delighted to be collaborating with the CSSA.  We hope this comprehensive, collaborative study will also tackle the common misconception that introducing robotics leads to the loss of jobs. Whereas technology can mean instead of a person manually mopping a vast floor space, which a machine can manage, the cleaning operative can do the more detailed work. We look forward to sharing the insights from the study and revealing the results.”

Supply partners supporting the project include Birkin Group, Infogrid, SoftBank Robotics UK Ltd., ICE, Kärcher UK, Numatic International, Killis Robotics, TASKI – The Ultimate Cleaning Machines, Orion Eco Solutions, Safer Space Limited. 

BICSc is the largest independent, professional and educational body within the cleaning industry and recently launched its free course focused on Robotics and the cleaning industry. For more information go to https://bbs-virtual-training.thinkific.com/courses/Robotics

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Cleaning in 2024 16/01/2024

Neil Spencer-Cook looks ahead to examine what the UK cleaning and hygiene sector can expect in 2024.

HAPPY NEW year to you all, I have been trying to think of something new to talk about in this column and, to be honest, the industry has so much happening that is still being progressed that I thought I would focus this column on what I think cleaning in 2024 is going to look like. 

Let me start with the new level 2 apprenticeship, at last we have a recognised qualification purely for the cleaning sector and not only as part of facilities management. I am looking forward to seeing the success of the standard and how you all take up the apprenticeship, remember we need to use it to make it a success and to keep it there. 

From BICSc experience over the last six months, training is playing an even bigger role in the industry now and whilst new ways to train and assess your staff are emerging, this is an area that will need to keep evolving to ensure what is on offer remains valid, current, and accessible to as many people as possible. We will all be going backwards if we stick with what has always been and don’t look at new and innovated ways to ensure that the future is not only bright but well-trained and effective. 

Of course, the ongoing onslaught of new technologies continue to grow, whether that be in machinery, robotics/cobotics or data-driven cleaning, all of these will be key in 2024. To address what seems like the ever-decreasing workforce we as an industry need to work smarter and utilise everything that is available to ensure we can maintain the standards of cleanliness the public expect and deserve. Data-driven cleaning means focus can be given to the areas that are most used and whilst robotic machines do have some limitations (although it appears that these limitations are decreasing at speed) they can do most large areas leaving the cleaning operative to concentrate on the detail. The benefit is the amount of time the robots can free up in an operative’s day-to-day workload to focus on the more specialised tasks.  

I would expect to see these technological advances becoming more common place and the cost of them decrease with increased take up. 

The technology we haven’t seen yet in any real way in the industry is what AI can do. I do wonder if this will start to grow in the industry this year. 

I think the final push for the year will be around ESG – especially environmental. As an industry we are very often at the forefront of environmental issues in areas – one of the first we embraced was recycling and rubbish segregation. But as an industry that heavily relies on chemicals to ensure dirt and bacteria are effectively removed, and with a huge amount of our equipment being made from plastic, I would expect to see a shift towards more environmentally friendly chemicals and equipment being introduced in the not-too-distant future. With huge environmental and sustainable pushes being made worldwide, and for good reason, we as an industry cannot be seen to sit on our laurels and not work toward improving our environmental footprint. Sticking with what we have always done, as I have already mentioned, means we are going backwards. 

So, in summary it is more of the same but as an industry we need to focus on and actually achieve change, it doesn’t just happen.  Keep an eye out for the innovative and don’t just dismiss it, you never know it could be the most surprising invention that revolutionises the industry.  I am ever hopeful. 

Neil Spencer-Cook is group managing director at BICSc.

For more information visit www.bics.org.uk

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Inspiring the cleaning stars of tomorrow 08/01/2024

The British Institute of Cleaning Science (BICSc) has announced its investment in inspiring the next generation of cleaning stars to join the professional cleaning community. Cleaning Matters look into how this will impact the future of the cleaning and hygiene sector.

THE BRITISH Institute of Cleaning Science (BICSc) is striving to highlight the numerous career opportunities for young people within the global cleaning sector and has pledged its significant support by investing thousands of pounds for online developments to help encourage more to join the profession.

BICSc substantial investment has resulted in the creation of a dedicated online hub the Cleaning Industry Careers Guide, which has just launched on the Youth Employment UK website. The official launch was announced and the online hub went live for the first time at the BICSc Conference on 6 December. Leading BICSc campaign to encourage engagement is the institute’s Youth Ambassador and Technical Specialist Kelsey Hargreaves.

Kelsey said: “I wanted to help make significant changes to encourage younger people to join the cleaning industry to inspire the next generation to consider some of the many incredible careers in the cleaning industry by helping raise awareness.”

Having contacted Youth Employment UK, Kelsey embarked on its Youth Ambassador programme to see how she could help other young people which led to her taking part in webinars, results day outreach with students’ parents, speaking at industry conferences and exploring the opportunity to create a dedicated cleaning industry careers hub on the Youth Employment UK website https://www.youthemployment.org.uk/careers-hub-sector/cleaning-industry-careers-bicsc/

Kelsey said: “It’s been fantastic to help make the cleaning industry, and its opportunities, much more accessible to young people and I’ve even spoken in Parliament on the matter. I am incredibly proud of what we’ve achieved so far. It is amazing BICSc has provided the funding for the online hub that will become a dedicated website which will be accessed by millions of young people each year. It explains the steps of how to get into a career in the cleaning industry. 

“I wanted to break down the barriers and provide people with a step by step guide to different parts of our industry and let people know there are so many exciting careers options. I have explored every avenue across different sectors to focus on ways to get young people involved in the industry. I spoke at the APPG for Youth Employment on Mental Health and helped with schools outreach activities. I am so proud of what we’ve achieved and our one stop job shop on the Youth Employment UK website will help so many young people reach their potential. 

“The newly launched comprehensive careers hub covers a range of topics including training options, case studies, work experience opportunities, alongside videos of young people already working within the industry who explain their job role, how they got into the industry and what they love about their work. This is about pooling everything together for the good of the next generation.”

Youth Employment UK 

Founded in 2012 as a not for profit, Community Interest Company Youth Employment UK is the expert voice on Youth Employment. Its expertise is driven by: 

  • Hundreds of employer members 
  • The voices of millions of young people and those that support them 
  • Policy insight, knowledge and connections.

Youth Employment UK is ideally placed to understand the complex employment landscape to support employers, young people and policy makers as we drive to full youth employment.

Long established BICSc is the largest independent professional and educational body within the cleaning industry with more than 60,000 members and over 23,000 courses completed in 2023 alone. BICSc group managing director, Neil Spencer-Cook, added: “BICSc continues to lead the industry with its innovative and pioneering approach and we were delighted to be able to dedicate the substantial investment to fund this incredibly important online option to help further engage with the younger generation. Kelsey and the team continue to strive to shine a spotlight on the many career opportunities there are within the cleaning community worldwide.”

Youth Employment UK Founder and CEO Laura-Jane Rawlings, said:  “We are always delighted to work with partners, like BICSc, to bring to life the world of work and highlight sectors for young people. This year’s Youth Voice Census highlighted the struggles young people are facing in confidence to navigate their next steps and understand all of the options available to them locally and nationally. They fear that employers are not supportive of hiring them, through the development of this careers hub and continuing our work to promote Good Youth Employment Standards throughout the sector we are showing them that careers in cleaning are youth friendly and a great place to grow their career.”

For more information about BICSc go to www.bics.org.uk or to access the Cleaning Industry Careers hub go to https://www.youthemployment.org.uk/careers-hub-sector/cleaning-industry-careers-bicsc/

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Sharing the limelight 18/10/2023

As part of the Cleaning Excellence Conference & Awards, The British Institute of Cleaning Science (BICSc) will share the event with a day of presentations. BICSc's group managing director, Neil Spencer-Cook describes what visitors can expect.

CLEANING MATTERS magazine is returning to the Coventry Building Society Arena to run a day of exhibitions, conferences and to present the Cleaning Excellence Awards, following on from their success last year, this year looks to be even bigger and better. 

Event information is available on the Cleaning Matters website, where they detail their exhibitors, sponsors, and awards. This can be found by following this link: https://cleaningexcellenceawards.com 

We are delighted to be joining forces with Cleaning Matters on the 6th December 2023 to run the first BICSc Conference since the pandemic. The conference is free to attend and you can register to attend at: https://westernbusiness.eventscase.com/attendance/event/index/43350/EN?step=ticket_widget   

We are so pleased to announce our line-up, with speakers covering a range of topics, including as you would expect The Big training Debate and Auditing, the CSSA will be talking about how it is bringing like-minded people together, there will be presentations on sustainability, new and emerging technologies in surface disinfection, the role of technology in the cleaning industry today, Youth Employment in the cleaning industry and also a presentation on Entrepreneurial Insights from Richard Pearson. 

We will also be exhibiting so the team will be on hand to answer any questions you have on what BICSc is all about, or what else we can offer you if you are already a member. 

Here is a full rundown of the BICSc conference. 

9.30 – The BICSc chair Soo Bartholomew will welcome you all and get the day started. 

9.40 – Neil Spencer-Cook, BICSc group MD & Kelsey Hargreaves, technical specialist, will start the presentations with the Big Training Debate. 

Neil and Kelsey will cover some of the key questions our industry is facing in regard to training. Such as, is online training the future of training for cleaning operatives?  What are the benefits, and can it really replace face-to-face training?  Does skills training require an assessment? What benefits do assessments bring?   

10.05 – Paul Ashton, CEO (Birkin) and chairman (CSSA) will carry on with CSSA – Together, We Elevate Standards and Raise Profile

Our goals at CSSA stretch beyond growth in numbers. We’re deeply invested in stimulating impactful transformations and benchmarking standards in the cleaning industry. With an aim to create the ultimate support network, we’re fostering an environment where each member feels heard, empowered, and driven to raise our collective industry profile. Our diverse offerings range from rich industry insights and thought-provoking guest sessions to dynamic Q&As and relevant online content. Plus, our community always has an open invitation for collaborative networking opportunities.   


Find out how the CSSA is bringing like-minded people together with purpose to increase member success. 

There is then time for coffee and to visit the exhibition or drop in on The Cleaning Matters conference.

11.00 – Join Oriol Margo and Craig Bowman as they discuss the role that companies should play in addressing the biggest sustainability challenges that we face today.

This conversation will cover how to ensure sustainability is owned by everyone in the business, trends in sustainability and what they are most excited about as Kimberly-Clark Professional makes progress toward its 2030 sustainability goals and global ambition. 

11.30 – Join Dr Andrew Kemp JP, PhD, FBICSc L/RAMC, global expert in disinfection research for his presentation, New and emerging technologies in surface disinfection.

Dr Kemp will be discussing the latest disinfectant technologies, their pros and cons as well as the new technologies coming over the horizon. 

Following this presentation, lunch will be served, and you will have the time to explore the exhibition area. 

13.00 – We will be kicking off the afternoon session with Stefano Bensi from Softbank Robotics, with the role of technology in the cleaning industry and how this applies to cleaning standards. 

As part of this subject, we will explore the high-level global technology trends and how these can apply to cleaning, along with an overview of the UK market.  We will talk about the incorporation of mobile apps, to improve cleaning standards and outcomes and how dynamic, on-demand cleaning can benefit the user as well as the data. 

We will also touch on the cleaner workspaces and the role of automation as well as why it is important for the industry to create new standards that reflect the growing adoption of technology, and how businesses can implement technology to benefit them. 

13.30 – Kelsey Hargreaves will return to the stage for an insightful presentation on Youth Employment in the Cleaning Industry – where are we now?

The cleaning voice. Kelsey will provide an update on Youth Employment UK’s Youth Voice Census 2023 and note the impacts this may have on the cleaning industry. A year on from Kelsey’s first speech, as presented at the BICSc Industry Insights Conference: Youth employment: less talking more action, she will take a look at where we are now as an industry, what changes we have made and the lessons we have learned. In the theme of youth opportunity and learning, Kelsey will then open a panel discussion, where she will ask professionals in youth engagement, technical education, and cleaning industry professionals what the best route into the industry is.  

One Industry with infinite opportunities: do we really understand what the best route into the industry is? 

We will then stop for a short coffee break and afterwards move onto the final presentations of the day. 

14.30 – Success Beyond the Mess: Entrepreneurial Insights and Home Transformations with Richard Pearson

Join Richard Pearson in an inspiring journey of entrepreneurship, delving into the challenges and triumphs of building Poppies Cleaning Company. Gain valuable insights into the world of television with behind-the-scenes anecdotes from Filthy House SOS, and explore remarkable home transformations, uncovering the lessons learned in turning chaos into order. Richard will be interviewed by Penny Moyes from the Clean & Tidy Home Show who will ask Richard to share his entrepreneurial journey.  Penny will also delve into Richard’s Behind-the-Scenes Insights and Home Transformation Case Studies.  

15.00 – BICSc commercial director, Denise Hanson, will take to the stage with Auditing - how to be effective when completing an audit. 

What are the benefits to auditing a building in today’ s environments? Is an audit worthwhile?  Denise will answer these questions and then move on to the most important factors to consider when completing an audit, along with who should be aware of parameters of an audit.  With a few references to where audits have been successful in improving quality this is a session any cleaning contractor or inhouse manager should not miss.  

15.25 – BICSc Group MD Neil Spencer-Cook, will close the day.

We hope you will find the content useful and engaging as we move forward with technology sustainability and the data led changes that are occurring in the industry, and we look forward to welcoming you all to what looks like it could be a very insightful day.

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Apprenticeship – What does it mean for you? 18/10/2023

As you are all aware, the Cleaning Hygiene Operative Apprenticeship is at the very final stage of approval, and it will likely be approved by the Secretary of State in the coming weeks. Neil Spencer-Cook explains what that means for you.

IN THIS article, I am going to try and give you a very simple idea of what it means if you wish to take it up for your cleaning operatives. 

First, let me start by telling you what a level 2 apprenticeship is. 

Level 2 is approximately equivalent to 5 GCSEs. It also requires the candidate by the end of the qualification to hold a qualification in English and Maths that is equivalent to a GCSE grade E or above (or one of the listed equivalents).

The apprenticeship is hoped to have funding of up to £5,000 per candidate.  This means that if you have an apprenticeship levy pot of £50,000 you would be able to put 10 of your team through a funded apprenticeship. 

The time requirement to complete the level 2 is 1 year, this is 1 year if your apprentice is working 30 hours or more per week. 

If your apprentice works 15 hours per week the apprenticeship will last for 2 years and following the same process if your apprentice works 10 hours per week it will last for 3 years. 

The other main requirement is that the apprentice will need to spend 20% of their paid working time in study of some kind. This is capped for anyone working 30 hours or more per week at 6 hours. This will obviously be pro-rata for part-time apprentices (3 hours a week if working 15 hours and so on).

What the standard says is that there must be a minimum of 278 hours of off-job training for an apprentice. 

This training must be completed during their normal working hours, it is stated that it is unfair to expect the apprentice to undertake the apprenticeship in their own time. 

If the training, takes place in the apprentice’s own time they must be given TOIL (time off in lieu) in compensation. 

You will need to make sure you factor in the cost of your apprentice for the 278 hours they will not be available to your business but working on the apprenticeship. 

Now let’s get onto what constitutes off-the-job training.  It is defined as it must deliver new skills that are directly relevant to the apprenticeship standard and can include:

  • The teaching of theory 
    • Lectures
    • Roleplay
    • Simulation exercises
    • Online learning 
    • Manufacturer training 
  • Practical training (where the activity has been agreed as part of the training plan)
    • Shadowing
    • Mentoring
    • Industry visits 
  • Learning support and time spent writing assignments.

There is one more thing you need to consider time-wise too, does your apprentice meet the requirements for English and Maths?  If not, the time required for them to gain these qualifications will be in addition to the 278 hours for a level 2 apprenticeship. 

To find out more about off-the-job training, the following link to the Department of Education is very useful. https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/1110377/20221011_OTJ_Guide_v4_-_For_22_23_Rules_Final.pdf

The BCC is also running sessions on the apprenticeship to include the following topics:

  • What are the benefits to organisations and individuals in engaging and taking the apprenticeship qualification? 
  • How to access the opportunity – explaining Levy funding.   
  • How to gift Levy funds and the benefits of gifting.
  • How to select a provider – credentials, experience, and location. 
  • Delivery format - mediums to study, assessment, and functional skills requirements  
  • Curriculum content and routes to progression   
  • End Point Assessment (EPA) criteria

Sessions can be booked by emailing admin@britishcleaningcouncil.org

It is a move forward for the industry that an apprenticeship will be available and this has taken hard work and perseverance by several people.

I hope that this has given you all some additional insight into what this will mean for you if you wish to utilise the apprenticeship. 

Neil Spencer-Cook is group managing director at BICSc.

For more information visit www.bics.org.uk

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BICSc Awards 2023 - Winners revealed 16/10/2023

THE WINNERS of this year’s prestigious BICSc Awards were announced at a glittering ceremony, which was a standout success.  

The renowned, prestigious, British Institute of Cleaning Science (BICSc) Awards recognises the exceptional and exemplary efforts of industry stars from the global professional cleaning community.

Star of TV’s The Chase, Paul Sinha, professional quizzer, comedian, doctor and broadcaster, was the celebrity host who entertained guests at the industry-leading awards ceremony.

The Institute was inundated with entries for this year’s awards, with winners announced at the ceremony staged at The Forest of Arden Hotel & Country Club.

Neil Spencer-Cook, BICSc group managing director, said: “We were delighted to be able to congratulate our overall winners on the night of our annual awards, which was an outstanding success.

“We are proud that the BICSc Awards showcases and celebrates the very best talent from the worldwide professional cleaning community, and it was a privilege to share the success of everyone who won. Our fantastic sponsors ensured the event was the perfect way to recognise and reward the individuals and organisations who were worthy winners of these prestigious awards.”


An array of awards were presented to winners on the night which included: 

Outstanding Corporate Member of the Year presented to a BICSc corporate member for their outstanding corporate commitment to the Institute and through excellence in supporting the Institute’s goal of raising awareness and standards for the cleaning industry: Winner - Lynn Webster Consultants

Excellence in Training and Assessment (UK) – this award is for training and development by an Accredited Training Member, who is audited and approved to deliver BICSc training and assessment within their organisation based in the United Kingdom: Winner - University of Huddersfield

Excellence in Training and Assessment (International) - this award is for training and development by an Accredited Training Member, who is audited and approved to deliver BICSc training and assessment within their organisation operating outside of the United Kingdom: Winner - NCC Holding L.L.C

Assessor of the Year – this award acknowledges the success of an inspirational individual Licensed Assessor who, when it comes to exacting standards, continues to strive to raise the bar. This accolade will be awarded to someone who demonstrates an outstanding level of passion, professionalism, and commitment to excellence for their students and themselves: Winner - Pundarik Ghimire

Outstanding Client Commitment by a Cleaning Operative this award is for an individual who exhibits exceptional commitment to BICSc standards. They will be a supporting figure when it comes to excellent service delivery: Winner - Olga Bancov

Outstanding Candidate of the Year this special award reflects the exceptional achievement of an individual and their award of BICSc qualifications. The focus will be centred on how the candidate has been able to achieve an award against personal difficulties or adversity. It shines a spotlight on someone who has gone the extra mile to complete and receive BICSc qualifications within the workplace: Winner - Steven Parish

Additional awards also presented on the evening included:

  • The Chairman’s Award – Winner - Sue Robinson
  • The Eric Hill Award – Winner - Jill Roberts
  • The International Award – Winner - Khansaheb Facilities Management
  • Commitment to BICSc Training and Assessment within Healthcare – Winner -Nuffield Health
  • Commitment to BICSc Training and Assessment within Education – Winner -University of York
  • Commitment to BICSc Training and Assessment within Daily Commercial Cleaning – Winner - Emrill Services LLC

Guest speakers participated in the Exhibition and Industry Insights Conference which was staged at the venue prior to the awards ceremony. Keynote speakers from across the industry shared knowledge and expertise on leading industry issues. 

Neil Spencer-Cook added: “We are extremely grateful to all our generous sponsors for their unwavering support, which makes this annual awards event a sell-out success every year. Plans are already underway for the BICSc Awards for 2024!”

For more information visit https://www.bics.org.uk/

Images: Derek Wales Photography

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BICSc is the largest independent, professional, and educational body within the cleaning industry providing training and education, setting standards and procedures for cleaning. BICSc membership now stands at over 55,000 Individual and Corporate Members in the UK and Internationally.