Cleaning industry rebrand needed?

7th of February 2023 Article by Lotte Printz
Cleaning industry rebrand needed?

Lotte Printz in Denmark talks to head of education at TEC Facility Services about future initiatives.

“Nothing much has changed for the people on the shop floor in this sector for the past 20 years,” Maria Veha, head of education at TEC (Technical Education Copenhagen) Facility Services, says speaking to ECJ.

This bleak view on the state of the cleaning profession triggered Maria Veha to address the industry in an article earlier this year pleading for action - a paradigm shift - if status quo is not to be maintained in the industry in 10 years’ time.

The pandemic may have helped spur focus on cleaning and hygiene, but it doesn’t suffice in Veha’s view. Nor does the important, but lengthy process of policymakers. Change also comes from within, and she wants to give the cleaning sector a bit of a push.

“It’s wonderful that more people engage in advocating this profession. But bottom line is that words alone do not make changes - at the speed necessary. If we are to succeed in a paradigm shift and transforming the way we all look at the cleaning profession, it’s time for action and new ways of thinking around the whole sector.

“For cleaning to be considered a craft, the profession needs rebranding. We must reconsider the antiquated views on what cleaning is. Cleaning has a very solid brand and changing that does not happen overnight. But perhaps there’s a shortcut?”

Looking at the ways in which cleaning quality is being measured and the values we want this profession to represent. Turning things upside down a bit, are some of Veha’s ideas. Because no matter which methods cleaning standards are being applied, aesthetics is still considered a key factor in the industry. So, the way the quality of cleaning is being measured today, the surface of a sink would be considered clean if it looks clean, even though the cloth used has been used for the toilet first, Veha argues.

“Millions of Danish Kroner are being spent every year on measuring and assessing the end result and following up on contracts. But for the cleaning profession to be considered a craft, it would be far more relevant to look at the ‘how’. How we get the result of a specific task. If the cleaner has the knowledge and the professional skills regarding methods, tools, chemistry and hygiene, they will also be on top of the end result – including what’s not visible to the naked eye.” Veha says.

Naturally, perhaps, as head of education at TEC Facility Services, education and rethinking education and training in its present form are at the forefront of Veha’s agenda.

”Cleaning managers have not been fully equipped for their jobs so it’s been a thankless task. They really needed an upgrade. The same goes for the companies submitting contracts, that have to inform customers on the price of taking on skilled cleaners. They rarely know the options in education and training themselves, and thus contribute to the narrative cleaning does not require education or training. The power lies with them.”

Maria Veha encourages all cleaning companies and organisations to stand united in efforts to create a strong brand for the cleaning profession. Dialogues have been postponed, however, as a more hands-on task was in store for Maria Veha and TEC Facility Services. They are currently travelling the country in a number of roadshows to promote a free digital training course cleaners can access by QR codes from their phones.

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