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Inspire the next generation

02 November 2017

One of the challenges the cleaning industry faces is trying to attract young people to not only work in it but to see it as a career. And the stakes have never been higher: There will be far fewer migrant workers available post Brexit and, as labour gets more difficult to recruit and retain, wages will inevitably rise. 

Recruiting the best possible candidates, training them to develop and increase their skills and value, leading to higher staff retention levels, will therefore be crucial to the productivity of businesses and their bottom line. But how can the cleaning industry make a career in cleaning more attractive?

This was one of the key topics discussed by industry professionals and media at the launch of The Cleaning Executive Recruitment and Training Agency (CERATA) on 12th October in London.

Founded by former director of EMEA Services for ISSA Keith Baker, it has been set up to provide high-quality recruiting, talent retention and training services for the professional cleaning, hygiene and jansan sector.

One attendee suggested holding familiarisation days, where young people can get a feel for what a business does. But promoting it as a 'cleaning and FM event' and 'the chance to work for a contract cleaning business' for example was thought to be less appealing than describing it as 'an opportunity to work for a business going through international expansion, that provides services including cleaning and security to take away the day-to-day hassles for customers'.

Few 16-year-olds want to be a cleaning operative or a grounds maintenance person, but if we market our industry differently perhaps they will be encouraged to join it and work their way up. The opportunity to improve workplace wellbeing and productivity across a client's workplace, to work for a well-known brand that keeps people safe and healthy, that has a robust corporate social responsibility policy, in an industry that makes a sizeable contribution to the UK economy – that can appeal to people. 

We're good at discussing our achievements within the industry but not so good at explaining them to the wider world. Why not use statistics on infection control and show how new innovations are helping our industry to save the world from deadly diseases like MRSA? Use different social media platforms to reach out to the younger generation that are living their lives on these channels. 

Start today so that post-Brexit you aren't having to resort to just hiring a 'body' to fill a position, whom you expect to be gone within three months. For a people- and service-based industry such as cleaning, we need to be thinking about how we can offer our clients value in the long-term if we are not prepared to engage in a race to the bottom on prices. The answer is great staff who are reliable and motivated.