What education can do for you

25th of October 2016 Article by Lotte Printz
What education can do for you

Cleaning is not considered the hottest job on a CV. But it may be a wise career choice - says ECJ’s Danish correspondent Lotte Printz.

September marks the beginning of an academic year. A record-breaking number of students start university studies in Denmark where vocational education has been struggling in recent years to attract applicants. But if job security is anything to go by, choosing vocational education to pursue a career in the hygiene sector, may prove a wise choice.

The most recent figures show that 91 per cent of the service assistants, which is the official title in the Danish educational system for those having studied for a cleaning job, become employed. So job security appears to be extremely high in this sector.

However, the figures are somewhat deceiving. A majority of those training to become service assistants in Denmark have a job in the cleaning industry beforehand. The most common scenario being that their employer decides on their behalf that a qualifications upgrade is needed.

The students are usually women, over 30 years old and with little or no education. They are generally reluctant to start studying, but when “forced” into it and succeeding, the joy and satisfaction seem far greater for them than other students according to Marianne Klitgaard Würtz, head of Centre for Education and Training at Aarhus Tech, one of the polytechnics offering thistype of education in Denmark.

As a positive side effect of choosing education, they minimise the risk of being worn down over time as the jobs they are offered to do afterwards are usually better and less physically demanding. Besides cleaning, service assistants specialising in either hospital or company service are qualified to perform tasks such as serving or preparing meals, meeting preparation and administration tasks.

Should the service assistant studies have triggered a desire to continue education, this has been an option since the spring of 2015  - the Zealand Institute of Business & Technology is offering an AP Programme in hygiene and cleaning technique.

With subjects such as cleaning technology and management of the cleaning process this programme may give service assistants yet another qualification boost, but it also strengthens and develops management skills and qualifications further for others working in the cleaning sector, those planning services for instance or the self-employed.

Being a part-time programme, it allows the students to keep their full-time jobs while studying and to mix and match subjects according to their current occupation. The knowledge and input they take back to their workplaces are much appreciated.

“It’s a great programme and highly qualified training. But I also learn a lot from my fellow students who work in the trade during the breaks when we’re discussing our profession,” says one student.

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