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Looking to the future

16 December 2013

With the merger of Asset Skills, the FMA and CSSA going ahead, Sarah Bentley, chief executive of Asset Skills, tells Cleaning Matters what we can expect from the new body in 2014


Cleaning Matters (CM): Now that the merger has got the green light, what will happen next?

Sarah Bentley (SB): We anticipate that the transition period to effectively merge the three entities into one full-functioning organisation will take us to the end of March. The priorities for the new board when it meets in January will be to sign off the business plan, agree the membership offer and select the new company name. We’ll also begin recruiting members to our sector Boards, a very important factor in positioning the organisation as the voice of the industry. These Boards will directly shape the work of the company and have significant influence over the future membership offer. We will be revising the membership fees and feel that CSSA members will be happy with the outcome.

CM: Besides the new training courses (outlined by Steven Proudfoot), what other membership benefits are in place? 

SB: Large FM providers through to the smallest cleaning businesses have been working with us to design, test and provide feedback on our training offer which already comprises a suite of training programmes from entry level through to management. As part of this we've created an opportunity for supervisors to assess the competency of their staff on the job and in real time through a mobile app. We understand that it's difficult to take staff out of their work environment for an assessment because that costs money and time. Testing employees from a theory point of view is also impractical as it’s difficult to assess someone's ability without watching them perform a task.

The app provides the supervisor with instructions on how to assess staff doing certain activities, allowing them to score how effective and capable an individual is when carrying out a particular task. We're really excited about it and we're hoping it will be adopted industry-wide. 

CM: What projects are planned for 2014?

SB: Training is core because employers have told us that there is a real need to drive up quality and standards, whilst also raising the profile of the industry; skills are key to achieving this. We’ll be looking to recruit academics and industry experts to form an expert panel involved in trend forecasting and helping our members to be one-step ahead of the game. We will also be identifying industry ambassadors and getting them on-board with the new body to help represent our members and raise the profile of the industry. 

FMA members currently have networking events which will continue across the board. It brings those procuring the services together with those delivering them, allowing for a more strategic partnership, and that's when you really start to get good value and good service provision. Finally, we'll be helping the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) with its examination into recruitment and employment practices in the cleaning industry. We welcome the review and we've got the right body now for them to engage with and get some really good feedback.

For more information on joining the new body, please contact chris.hoar@fmassociation.org.uk