Cleaning in northern Europe undergoes a gender change

28th of November 2019
Cleaning in northern Europe undergoes a gender change

The cleaning industry is attracting an increasing number of men, according to the Oslo Institute for Social Research.

This is said to mirror a rise in the number of immigrants seeking work in Europe.

The Oslo Institute's Marjan Nadim and Julia Orupabo claim the role of cleaning - once almost exclusively the province of women - is about to "change gender". The researchers reached this conclusion after extensive research and interviews. Nearly half of Oslo's cleaners are currently men.

"Around 45 per cent of our cleaners are immigrants, and more men with immigrant backgrounds are now applying for cleaning jobs," agreed Wenche Sagøy, trade union representative for the Trondheim municipality.

"The language is often a challenge but they receive follow-up data skills and tuition in the Norwegian language. Many build on their skills with courses and get paid more."

Meanwhile, figures from Finnish Service Union United PAM shows the proportion of immigrant men in the cleaning sector rose from 15.4 per cent in 2010 to 17.7 per cent in 2017. And the HAG trade union in the Faroe Islands claims to have experienced a similar trend.

But the gender of cleaners across the UK is more evenly split - and women are likely to dominate the industry in the future, according to the British Cleaning Council.

A 2017 BCC report revealed that 51 per cent of UK cleaners were male while 49 per cent were female. However, there was a noticeable difference between industry sub-sets with nearly three-quarters of all building workers being female while male workers dominated the landscape service sector.

And according to BCC projections, around 68 per cent of UK cleaners in 2024 will be female, 11 per cent of whom will be self-employed.



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