Learning on the job

13th of July 2020
Learning on the job

News of an interesting training project in Germany from ECJ's Katja Scholz.

Combining theoretical learning with practical activity is probably the most effective way of assimilating something. Those in charge at the Schleswig-Holstein regional vocational college for contract cleaningare certainly convinced of that. “To this end, we work together with the Northern Guild of Contract Cleaners to offer our trainees practical projects of several days’ duration on actual sites. This is a concept currently unique in the whole of Germany,” explains Christian Struck, master contract cleaner and subject teacher for practical Instruction.

Cleaning activities on the Stadt Kiel museum ship go back many years here and trainees regularly take care of the dockyard cleaning. “The young people always do this with great enthusiasm, since working on a museum ship with a panoramic view of the Kiel Fjord and the passing ferries and cruise ships is of course something quite special,” says Struck.  “At the same time, our students are highly valued and appreciated by the crew – thereby deriving lasting positive experiences to take with them into their later professional life.”

There is an enormous amount on board for the trainees to learn:  within its narrow confines the ship provides a wide diversity of surfaces and spaces to work on which correspond to the 12 learning modules of contract cleaner training. From the cleaning of the machine room, the galley kitchen, the sanitary facilities, carpets and upholstery to the cleaning and care of real wood flooring, the Stadt Kiel provides endless examples of different cleaning applications.

“These tasks make considerable demands on our trainees in terms of technically appropriate operations. The outboard glass cleaning is particularly tricky.”

Alongside all the regular jobs on the museum ship, there was a first this year: the nine trainees who were then at intermediate level of their training – eight young men and one young woman – were allowed, as work experience, to resurface the floorboards in the large saloon on the ship. The solid wood floor had to be sanded and treated with coloured oil.

Cooperating industrial companies provided the abrasives, tools and machinery necessary for the work. As a special challenge, the trainees had to come to grips with surface treatment, since the sanded pitch pine floorboards had to be restored after treatment to approximately the same shade of colour as in their original state.

“Here too we had help from a company. They supplied us with a coloured impregnating oil in a coffee shade which proved to be ideal for this kind of floor.”

The oil was combined with a reactive agent as a two-component system and given two applications with a double-leaved spreader. Afterwards, the trainees went over the floor with monodisc machines and beige pads. “The result was impressive and showed yet again what technically demanding tasks can be accomplished by the contract cleaning business”, said Struck.

Along with the resounding success of the project, there was yet another reward for the energetic young trainees: an invitation to a Kiel Fjord trip on the Stadt Kiel. This traditional passenger vessel, built in 1934, is recognised today as a cultural monument and still puts out to sea today for special trips – a moment which the nine young trainees are certainly not likely to forget.


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