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Training to Gain

15 October 2010

The BISCs new accreditation scheme for cleaning training and standards is raising the bar and helping to improve public perception of the sector. Mike Fletcher describes the benefits training has brought to the 600 cleaning operatives at Johnson Controls

WHEN JOHNSON CONTROLS Global WorkPlace Solutions decided to invest in the training of its cleaning service staff, it turned to BICSc. We have 46 service lines and cleaning represents a significant part of our high profile soft service offerings along with security, engineering and catering. Everything needs cleaning.
The success of Johnson Controls can be attributed to the commitment and dedication of our 130,000 employees around the world. And this combined with a continued focus on growth means that we are a company where employees can express ideas, make a difference and build their future. A key focus of our workplace is to emphasise integrity and ethics. We look to help our employees grow, we believe it is vital to strengthen their engagement and develop their skills and leadership capabilities. This is done through an environment that welcomes diversity of thought and experience.
We are prepared to do whatever it takes to make sure that our members of staff are fully trained. It’s very important to us. We are committed to training and Johnson Controls is a people-orientated company. We are fully aware that the FM sector is all about its people and ultimately the service and professionalism they provide. We are measured by the service we provide on any given day and as such we cannot afford to make mistakes. With this in mind, we decided to reinforce our cleaning service by training our ownin-house cleaning teams. By doing this we have been able to increase productivity and reduce our costs.
As Johnson Controls is not a cleaning training specialist, it approached the British Institute of Cleaning Science (BICSc) for their expert knowledge on training standards and qualifications and to be sure that our training needs were accredited to both UK and international standards through BICSc’s new accreditation scheme. It was an easy choice to approach and work with BICSc as I had previously used the BICSc training system in roles at other companies before. I had found that by having trained staff, it gave greater productivity and the ability to provide a better service. When working at Hampshire County Council, I successfully implemented the BICSc COPC training system which is now being implemented at Johnson Controls.
The BICSc, is raising the bar in standards and education for cleaning to help improve the public’s perception of the industry. It is no longer a secondary, unseen service, but an integral part of the FM offering and its ever-expanding remit of responsibilities.
At Johnson Controls the updated in-house training scheme applies to its own cleaning staff. There are currently over 600 full time Cleaning Operatives employed by Johnson Controls as well as many more provided by our preferred suppliers. A BICSc-registered training provider undertook the training of our cleaning managers and support staff. These staff were trained to assessor level and they cascaded the training to our staff. Once this training was completed and accredited by BICSc, we were registered to train our own staff. The new Regulating System recently introduced by BICSc will further ensure that the delivery of training is to the high standard required. It is an innovative approach and one that will ensure we are always at the top of our game.
A lead assessor has been appointed by Johnson Controls who is responsible for the company maintaining and achieving the accreditation. She works to make sure that all of our training  and assessment is completed to BICSc standards. This also ensures a continuous programme of training is in place and that we as a company, and as individuals, are regulated to make sure all qualifications are correct and up to date.
Throughout this process, we have learned that trained staff improve productivity. The element of H&S that is covered within the training is also essential in ensuring staff, colleagues and clients are kept safe. Whilst our in-house portfolio is only a small part of the total cleaning delivery within Europe, Middle East and Africa, the trained staff set a benchmark for our Cleaning Suppliers to be measured against, and my expectation is that all staff should be trained to that benchmark.
BICSc training is specifically structured for cleaning with more than 40 different cleaning tasks in the cleaning training programme. We choose the suitable tasks required within the individual specification agreed with the client. There are mandatory tasks such as washroom cleaning but tailored specifications will call for staff training specifically for that location.
Typically, there are generic tasks such as mopping and others which are specialist such as sealing of floors. Reaching and maintaining standards and BICSc training is the main weapon to achieve these standards and to make sure that these are carried through.
The majority of cleaning that we undertake is normal office or industrial cleaning. But we do also cover some specialist tasks such as carpet cleaning and the cleaning of high risk and high profile locations such as data centres and other critical environments. We have to be able to accommodate and supply the training for all these areas. The advantage of BICSc is that the whole suite of training has been developed, and we can pick and choose dependant on the location. It is this approach that allows us to cater for the wide variety of clients we have in the UK and globally.
There are many benefits to having in-house and trained cleaners. Our in-house trained staff to set the standard for our external suppliers and this is recognised through the accreditation. A certificate gives them recognition of further skills and can also lead people on to new challenges. For example, one manager at Johnson Controls started as a cleaning operative and went through BICSc certification. It encouraged her and she realised that she wanted to progress further.
This is not a one-off project for Johnson Controls who will continue to invest in regulated professional training for as long as it provides cleaning as part of its offering. With our own lead assessor now answerable to BICSc to maintain the required standards, we see this as a step forward in our commitment to the Institute. The investment we have made in our in-house training really adds value to our services.
BICSc setting and regulating standards BICSc has recently launched new accredited cleaning systems standards. These standards have been designed to provide all areas of the cleaning industry with an assurance of excellence that has been independently tested and verified, and to provide a means of judging the quality and effectiveness of products and systems available in the professional cleaning market. Established in 1961, BICSc has 5,000 individual and corporate members across all areas of the cleaning sector, including local authorities, contract cleaners, manufacturers and suppliers, training organisations and cleaning operatives in the UK and overseas.
Stan Atkins, chief executive officer of the Institute, said: “With almost four decades experience of improving industry knowledge of cleaning science, BICSc is the natural leader in the education of those in the cleaning industry. Our mission is to sustain and protect the safety of the built environment and to ensure that equipment and systems used for cleaning are safe and effective for the uses and the occupants of the buildings being cleaned. Cleaning is gaining a reputation in the FM sector as not just an add-on service, but an integral element of the total solution. Cleaning standards therefore have to be improved and one way for FM companies to achieve this is by gaining national accreditation.”
Mike Fletcher is Director of Cleaning, EMEA for Johnson Controls Global WorkPlace Solutions, a Council member of BICSc for over 20 years and a Fellow of the Institute

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