The challenges of youth

19th of January 2023
The challenges of youth

How can the cleaning sector attract more young people? Lynn Webster in the UK takes a look.

We continue to have serious concern about where the next generation of employees will come from - not only cleaning operatives but in the wider context of positions that remain unfilled due to retirement and resignation of vast numbers from many industries.

Following up on other articles on the issue of recruitment, many of our associations are examining the potential of young people; school leavers and those still in school contemplating their career choices. Selecting the route they will take, whether this be towards further education or the first step on the career ladder, has significant impact.

The task we face is how we can influence this bubbling cauldron of potential talent towards the cleaning and facilities industries. To create an understanding of the diversity of opportunities available to them when the perception still remains that we are low skilled with nothing more than the ability to move a mop and bucket across the floor or a cursory glance across a surface with a microfibre cloth.

The Cleaning and Support Services Association (CSSA)is taking a lead position with its promotion of the Clean Start initiative. So many of us didn’t start our adult life with the desire to be in the cleaning industry; often we ‘just fell into it’ as a circumstance of what life offered and played the deck of cards handed to us.

CSSA is highlighting the various aspects of our multimillion-pound industry to the grass roots. This is by visiting schools and colleges, attending career fairs and presenting to groups of young people - reimagining a career in the cleaning industry with the message that there is so much more on offer.

Some serious case studies present the opportunities individuals have taken - completing a degree in palaeobiology and evolution to a role in cleaning and hygiene procurement; from warehouse operative to becoming a demonstrator of innovation, working with robotics; from a working mum to a board director of a national facilities organisation; from teacher to sales and marketing manager, and from pot washing to being a globally recognised cleaning expert. In each case they haven’t lost sight of their valuable roles as ambassadors.

The same message is provided by colleagues at the British Insitute of Cleaning Science (BICSc) which already has a focus on youth employment by promoting the Career in Cleaning, and has now added support for the Good Youth Employment Charter.

The five principles are: creating opportunity, recognising talent, fair employment, developing people and youth voice. Kelsey Hargreaves from BICSc has become an ambassador for Youth Employment UK, campaigning to remove the negative images of the cleaning industry. Her aim to attract younger people into a Career in Cleaning with their thoughts, views and personal ethics in sustainability and the environment, are a key to the future.

Yes, we belong to a great industry with so many diverse opportunities but we need to take steps, if not some giant leaps, into the future and foster the growth and nurturing of the next generation of cleaning experts.


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  • ISSA Interclean
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