The long fight against illiteracy

20th of December 2017
The long fight against illiteracy

The French federation of cleaning companies (FEP) is actively involved in national initiatives tackling illiteracy, writes ECJ correspondent Christian Bouzols in his latest report.

The French federation of cleaning companies (FEP) recently took part in the annual days of action against illiteracy organised by the National campaign against illiteracy.

The cleaning sector has been engaged in this struggle for almost 20 years and by participating in this event has reasserted its commitment towards improving the level of knowledge of basic French, particularly written French, among its ranks.

The reality is generally quite worrying: seven per cent of the French population aged between 16 and 65, representing some 2.5 million people, don’t possess basic skills in reading, writing and arithmetic.

In this context, the cleaning sector is currently applying policies which it developed back in 1999 to train its workers in the proper understanding of technical cleaning guides, and has established a certification for this in 2012.

The president of the Federation of cleaning companies, Max Massa, is realistic about this: “Our sector was the first to initiate training programmes in specific reading skills. It has to be understood that more than half of our workers enter into cleaning without any educational certificate, and that’s why we’re particularly concerned by the problem.”

The cleaning sector currently dedicates a tenth of its professional training funds to the fight against illiteracy. This amounted to €3.5 million in 2016. In this way, the sector is building the means to fulfill its ambitions and to abide by its longstanding literacy commitment.

In less than five years, it has delivered some 2,000 certificates of key competencies pertaining to the cleaning trades. Centred on developing general and basic skills used in the cleaning trades, this training is currently recognised by the entire cleaning sector, and has been recorded in an official schedule of certifications.

Greater appreciation

Once they have obtained certificates for key cleaning competencies, cleaning worker can continue their training by getting one of the eight professional qualification certificates that have been instituted by the sector.

Beyond the immediate advantage of securing their own jobs, obtaining these certificates has many immediate advantages for cleaners, in particular the ability to read instruction manuals, administrative correspondence and other personal documents, a greater professional independence and, above all, increased self-confidence.

From the employer’s point of view, this increased professional level means more productivity on a daily basis because the relationship between workforce and management is improved and it becomes possible to entrust cleaners with the responsibility of taking on work at new sites.


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