Can we create new jobs?

21st of September 2012
Can we create new jobs?

Our UK correspondent discusses the part the cleaning sector can play in economic recovery.

The Queen's Diamond Jubilee is gone but not forgotten. Particular praise must go to the waste management side of our industry for their efforts in cleaning up after the events. Working from dawn to dusk they gave us litter free, clean, washed streets as events followed in quick succession.

Often we forget those who work on public holidays. Rightly paid extra, they deal cheerfully and capably with problems. Sadly we sometimes find their efforts for the public good hijacked by unscrupulous trade union leaders with blackmail threats to cause misery and inconvenience to millions of what vote currying politicians are pleased to call ‘hard working families’.

It would be nice to say we can move on from the sun-dappled days of the Jubilee but they weren’t, and the world had soon straightened on its axis and the self-created dull misery of depression reappeared.

Much pontificating is taking place about how the cleaning industry can be a leader in the recovery with regard to unemployment - specially youth unemployment. One journal made it the subject of its leading article and made some good points about the importance of the industry to the economy. This has always been true but still remains unrecognised.

Splendid efforts are being made to increase opportunities and show that cleaning is a worthwhile career. Apprenticeships are now on offer with leading companies, the Cleaning and Support Services Association (CSSA) has pioneered a new management diploma qualification, something which has been needed for some time.

A National Cleaning Academy has been launched offering three levels of training leading to National Vocational Qualifications. It also claims to be filling a gap in the market by providing certificated training. We do not believe that this ‘gap’ actually exists except that too many companies are training or buying training at a price but without certification. This is presumably on cost grounds which makes much of this training, however excellent, worthless from a step on the ladder viewpoint and is short-changing the employee.

Cleaning degree

A university was offered funds towards a degree course in cleaning but has decided not to proceed. Asset Skills reports that 34 per cent of people employed in the industry do not have a qualification, which raises the question: how can they prove they have one? It all depends on what you mean by qualification. A degree? An NVQ? CPSS (successor to COPC)? The CSSA diploma?

It is suggested that cleaning can play a role in getting the long term unemployed back to work and offering chances to the most vulnerable in our society. Perhaps it can but do the long term unemployed want what the industry offers and are the employers willing to take on these people or would they rather have an eastern European or east African staff (illegal or otherwise)? Jobs the British won’t do as we hear so often.

The miasma of misery spread ad infinitum by the media, particularly television, has been temporarily dispersed by the Olympic Games. Too soon for a verdict based on rumour and horror stories but there are lessons to ponder apart from the hysterical pleasure in medal achievement.


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