A group of cleaning and hygiene companies is calling for industry support for an apprenticeship scheme for the sector.
Employers including Sodexo, OCS and Mitie, along with other stakeholders, have formed an ‘Apprenticeship Trailblazer’ group. This aims to gain industry support for accredited training provision in the format of an apprenticeship scheme for the sector.
The group has already contacted The Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (IfATE) to seek approval to develop a proposal for an industry-wide Professional Cleaning and Hygiene Operative apprenticeship.
The proposal needs backing from the industry, and the Trailblazer group is contacting other businesses and organisations in the cleaning and hygiene sector to ask for their support.
Support can be emailed to [email protected] by 24 May, and will be presented to the IfATE as part of evidence demonstrating the requirement and demand in the sector for the proposed apprenticeship.
The Trailblazer group has been set up by the British Cleaning Council (BCC). Supporters include the Association of Healthcare Cleaning Professionals (ahcp), the British Institute of Cleaning Science (BICSc) and the the Cleaning and Support Services Association (CSSA).
Any approved proposals would be shared with the newly formed All-Party Parliamentary Group for the UK Cleaning and Hygiene Industry, to win the backing of MPs and Members of the House of Lords.
The BCC said that a significant number of cleaning and hygiene companies pay into the Apprenticeship Levy without getting the benefit of being able to fund apprentices themselves for all or some of their core business activities.
The Healthcare Cleaning Operative (HCO) apprenticeship demonstrates the technical skills and significant training needed by operatives which is mirrored in the wider sector, BCC said. However, operatives in the wider sector are unrepresented with apprenticeships now that the Cleaning and Support Services apprenticeship framework has been withdrawn.
Lauren Kyle, who is chair of the Trailblazer group and head of cleaning at Sodexo UK & Ireland, said that some businesses outside of the healthcare sector had tried to adopt the HCO apprenticeship but it was not the right fit.
“We need an apprenticeship designed specifically for the rest of the cleaning industry and to do this we need to present as much evidence as possible, which is why we are asking any businesses is in the cleaning and hygiene industry who agree that an accredited training and apprenticeship scheme is needed to email their backing,” she said.
The Apprenticeship Levy means that employers with an annual pay bill of more than £3 million put around 0.5% towards the levy. Alternatively, businesses can use these funds on recognised apprenticeship schemes.
The Trailblazer group is also seeking to challenge the decision in 2017 by the IfATE to turn down a proposal to develop an all-encompassing replacement for the Level 2 Cleaning and Support Services apprenticeship.