The cleaning sector today faces a number of key challenges. While members of the UK public expect clean hospitals, offices, schools, streets and other public places, cleaning jobs are widely regarded as undesirable and low-class occupations.
It is no wonder, then, that the industry is experiencing notoriously high levels of staff turnover and skills shortages among its workers, as they simply view their cleaning jobs as a temporary means to earn some money before moving on to other employment.
Add to this the need for employers to save money in this difficult climate, while also trying to deliver the same levels of cleaning and customer service, and we can see why many organisations are struggling to provide their cleaners with the training they need to progress within their roles.
As a result of these challenges, there are approximately 53,000 job vacancies existing within the cleaning sector today. At the same time, there is a significantly high amount of people in the UK who are not in employment, education or training (NEETs). The number of NEETs aged between 16 and 24 years old alone stands at approximately 954,000 (figure as of May 2012).
Cleaning and training specialist Nordic Pioneer is working to bridge this gap, however, by showing today’s NEETs the attraction of working for this essential sector and by helping them to gain a footing on an interesting career path. The Company is achieving this through its UK-wide provision of apprenticeship opportunities for young people and through its newly-launched training and recruitment programme, Nordic Facilities Management Academy (Nordic FMA).
An overview of Nordic FMA
Nordic FMA works for the benefit of both NEETs and facilities management organisations by providing an opportunity for people of all ages to gain the skills needed to enter the facilities management sector and fill specific vacancies available within various organisations. It provides candidates with an understanding of the invaluable contributions that cleaners make to the world around us; for instance, through creating healthier living and work spaces (reducing the spread of infection within these places as a result) and also by creating much more attractive public spaces.
By highlighting the rewards that come from working within the facilities management and cleaning sectors, Nordic FMA aims to inspire within its candidates a much more positive view of the cleaning sector and the various roles that it involves.
What Nordic FMA involves for candidates and facilities management organisations
When candidates sign up to Nordic FMA, they receive training through physical teaching and virtual academies in order to become entry-level qualified. As well as being educated on the basic principles of cleaning techniques and how to deal with various workplace situations, candidates are also taught the importance of possessing the correct attitude and aptitude for working within the cleaning sector.
Following this employability programme, candidates are either placed with a specified facilities management employer, or they are listed with Pioneer Recruit – Nordic’s own specialist cleaning recruitment agency – to be selected for an interview when an employer comes to Nordic FMA expressing a certain staffing need.
One crucial thing to note about Nordic FMA is this pro-active approach to filling jobs within facilities management firms and decreasing the number of NEETs in the UK. Instead of simply training candidates in the hope that their new-found skills will help them to find a job once they complete the programme, Nordic Pioneer uses its recruitment programme to match successful candidates to specific jobs that are available within facilities management organisations.
In this way, companies within the facilities management sector also experience a range of benefits from working with Nordic FMA. Where the programme helps to recruit new staff for these organisations, it can also tailor its courses to each individual firm’s policies and procedures – therefore ensuring that candidates are given full training specifically suited to their own company. This in turn saves the employer valuable time and money.
It’s no secret that cleaning sector firms are looking for more ways to save money while still delivering the best possible services, and Nordic FMA delivers a cost-cutting and time-saving training solution to employers by providing candidates with on-going training and support. This potentially saves employers around £100,000 per annum on training and recruitment services, depending on organisational size.
Nordic FMA and MJF Cleaning Services
The first company to sign up to Nordic FMA was MJF Cleaning Services, which called on Nordic FMA to assist with its staffing needs after experiencing a sharp rise in demand. The Company interviewed a number of candidates and has already added a handful of permanent new recruits to its team.
Barry Sleightholme, business development director of MJF Cleaning, said: “Since our partnership with Nordic FMA began, the support that we’ve received from the Company has been invaluable.
“When we first discussed the potential of developing a bespoke training programme for potential new staff, we were impressed by Nordic’s genuine approach to preparing candidates for employment. The five candidates who have already been successful in securing employment with us have been working very hard, becoming team players and excellent ambassadors of Nordic Pioneer.”
With on-going concerns about the number of unemployed people in the UK, along with the challenges of high staff turnover and the need to save money faced by the cleaning industry, Nordic FMA is succeeding in providing a highly practical solution that works for both sides. It has so far recruited over 100 suitable candidates to a number of companies, including the Community Impact Enterprise (CIE) which helps to develop employment opportunities for young people living at a distance from significant labour markets.
Peter Robinson, chairman of Nordic Pioneer and one of the founders of CIE, said: “We are proud to have launched Nordic FMA as a way of fulfilling the many needs of the cleaning sector today.
“Not only has the programme already proven to be effective in getting people back into work, it has also received some very positive feedback on the services it provides for facilities management firms – fulfilling employers’ needs for skilled staff while also saving them time and money on suitable training requirements.”
He added: “We know that the industry has a poor perception in this country, and we understand that many people do not see it as an opportunity into work, so we decided that it was time for us to step in and improve people’s views on the cleaning sector and even provide a way for unemployed people to get involved with the sector and experience the benefits of their work for themselves.”
Apprenticeships as an additional solution for young people
While Nordic FMA works for the benefit of NEETs of any age and the facilities management sector in particular, Nordic Pioneer is continuing its award-winning work in delivering apprenticeships in the cleaning, environmental cleaning, waste management and housing sectors for young people aged between 16 and 24 years old.
These apprenticeships, delivered nationwide, involve both theory-based and practical learning for young people, to help them become more familiar with these sectors and gain the skills required to take on a range of roles within them. Through these apprenticeships, Nordic Pioneer is also helping to improve the way in which young people view the cleaning and waste management sectors, by allowing them to undertake practical work in their own neighbourhoods. The result is that these young people are able to see first-hand the work that goes into keeping their local areas clean and to consider this interesting work as a serious, long-term career option.
So, while the cleaning sector continues to face the on-going challenges of a negative perception, along with significant staff turnover and the need to cut costs while trying to maintain the same standard of service, we can see that Nordic Pioneer is succeeding in providing an effective solution to all of the above.
By helping unemployed people across the UK to gain the skills required to enter the facilities management and cleaning sectors, and matching them to specific jobs within these sectors, Nordic Pioneer is providing an easier way for employers to find and recruit the staff they need in order to continue delivering their crucial services for the public, while also saving them a significant amount of time and money in the process.
For further information on Nordic FMA, please call a member of the team on 01325 464880, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.