Germany is gearing up for future challenges

5th of April 2018 Article by Alexandra Lachner
Germany is gearing up for future challenges

The cleaning sector in Germany is facing a shortage of workers. ECJ’s Alexandra Lachner speaks to Steffi Reuter of the BIV contract cleaning association.

The basic requirement for career and further professional development options in Germany is the three-year training course for contract cleaners. There are many routes open to apprentices following their initial training, explains Steffi Reuter.

“From further training to facility and divisional manager via the certified cleaning and industrial hygiene technologist qualification through to the master craftsman training scheme and to a degree course in contract cleaning and industrial hygiene management/technology – it is even possible to specialise in pest control and disinfection.”

This range makes the contract cleaning sector one of the most diverse in Germany. Over 640,000 people throughout the country are employed each day in the cleaning and hygiene business in the workplace. There are over 20,000 businesses offering an astonishing range of services – from small specialist companies concentrating on façade and monument cleaning to full-service providers.

What degree of influence do current trends such as digitalisation and sustainability exert on the future career profile in the industry?  Steffi Reuter explains: “Qualified practical training embracing the latest developments is important to ensure continuing quality. Familiarity with technical tools such as tablets and apps for example, will in future be taken much more for granted than now.

Young people should also be enabled to carry out cleaning processes in such a way that minimum possible harm is caused to human beings, materials and the environment. The challenge therefore is to impart knowledge about both modern and at the same time alternative, gentle cleaning treatments and dosage techniques.”

It is pleasing to note the volume of work in the contract cleaning sector is not only remaining steady but is in some cases even growing as clients outsource more and more contracts – for example winter services, maintenance of park areas or catering. “It is for this very reason that we, like many other trades in Germany, are experiencing a severe shortage of skilled labour. Contract cleaners are in demand everywhere and the range of services offered is becoming more and more diverse.”

According to an assessment carried out by the German Federal Employment Office, there is actually no nationwide shortage of skilled labour overall in Germany. There are however pinch points in certain technical occupations, both in construction work and in some health and care professions. These are driven by demographic changes, companies’ greater willingness to recruit staff and the continually increasing level of employment in recent years.

This is reason enough for the BIV to focus strongly on attracting new trainees so as to be equipped to face future challenges. “It is important to get the message across to young people,” comments Steffi Reuter.  “We made a start by launching at end of 2017 - this takes the viewer through the process of searching for a suitable skilled occupation in everyday working life and shows the workplaces of a contract cleaner. We hope such initiatives will help to attract young people to our profession.” 

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