SK Clean - EFCI’s report on the outcome of two years’ work

7th of June 2022
SK Clean - EFCI’s report on the outcome of two years’ work

Isabel Yglesias at EFCI reports on the outcomes of the project SK-Clean: Digitalisation in the Cleaning Sector, Supporting the Skills Transition for Cleaning Agents.

At the beginning of April the EFCI presented at the Viennese Building Cleaning Academy (the Bundesinnung der chemischen Gewerbe und der Denkmal-, Fassaden- und Gebäudereiniger, EFCI’s Austrian Member), the outcomes of the project SK-Clean: Digitalisation in the Cleaning Sector, Supporting the Skills Transition for Cleaning Agents) which it had been working on since February 2021.

Despite the complicated timing of the project, which was launched at almost the same time as the start of the Covid-19 pandemic (and therefore involved constant adaptations in timing and meetings due to the impossibility to organise in-person gatherings), the project team succeeded in identifying the main changes digitalisation will bring for the sector, as well as mapping the main characteristics of training in the sector across 15 European jurisdictions.

The project reunited, over almost two years, experts in training from various EFCI members around the topics of training and digitalisation. One of their meetings at the beginning of January, for example, included a virtual tour of the Maison des Métiers de la Propreté, the academy of Institut National de l’Hygiène et du Nettoyage Industriel (INHNI) in Bruz, Rennes.

Two reports at the service of the industry

The work developed by the SK-Clean team and the experts has resulted in two reports that have been published by the EFCI: one that portrays how training is provided and recognised in our sector across Europe (Training Systems in the European Industrial Cleaning Sector: an Overview), and one that tackles specifically the impact of digitalisation and the challenges ahead to enable a successful digital transition for the sector (The Impact of Digitalisation on Training and Skills in the European Industrial Cleaning Sector). These outcomes shall constitute a relevant working tool for social partners, training institutions, companies and other stakeholders in the sector, in order to advance through a swift digital transition.

The reports, drafted on the basis of questionnaires and interviews, identify a few good practices which may have a positive impact on the provision of vocational and educational training in the European cleaning sector in the future. The first report underlines the relevance of tools such as  ‘qualifications biography to document skills acquisition, the establishment of training centres by industry associations or the provision of E-learning modules which are collected in an electronic qualifications database, as well as the establishment of a skills development plan.

The conclusion of the mapping exercise is that in general, training in our sector is established through ‘dual systems’, which combine theoretical learning at a vocational school with practical work experience in companies (apprenticeships). The best practices and description of how training is conducted in different jurisdictions include specific aspects that can be taken over by other jurisdictions. The experts also concluded on the relevance of establishing quality control or references to ensure high standards in training.

The report entitled The Impact of Digitalisation on Training and Skills in the European Industrial Cleaning Sector explains the sector is facing ever changing requirements and demands by clients and the digital transformation is impacting the entire industry, with an increasing drive towards a sustainable, green and circular economy. The results of the survey clearly show the industrial cleaning sector is aware of and fully recognises the importance and significance of vocational education and training, as well as its own responsibility for it, but efforts and challenges lay ahead in order to ensure the preparedness of our workforce to fully embrace the digital transition.

Working to support the recognition of training as a quality value for the sector

Juan Díez de los Ríos, EFCI’s president, said during the opening of the conference in Vienna: “Skills and vocational education and training are at the centre of European social policies, and they are also key for the recognition and advancement of our sector. While we strive to highlight the well-deserved recognition that our sector has received during Covid-19, the pandemic has underlined how training and skilling of cleaning agents is central to the provision of quality cleaning services and high social standards.

"The consequences of an increased recognition of training in the sector show across its value chain: the steady growth of the sector over the last 30 years is, without doubt, closely linked to its professionalisation, for which training is central.”

The EFCI will continue to work, together with its members and social partners, to integrate our sector into European discussions and policy developments on skills and vocational education and training, one of the current priorities of European policymakers.

Furthermore, this project is now to be completed with a follow-up project on skills and training for the greening of cleaning services and the circular economy, which will also receive the financial support of the European Commission. In this way, the EFCI wants to actively support the green and digital transitions for the sector, enormous challenges that will bring further recognition and relevance to our industry.


Our Partners

  • ISSA Interclean
  • EFCI
  • EU-nited