INCLEAN January-February 2021

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INDUSTRY LEADERS FORUM

Luke Bordin Industry Programs Specialist, Learning Sphere Training Solutions

Cleaning companies are feeling the weight of greater contract expectations with many requiring a measurable understanding of how competent the cleaning staff are.

How was 2020 for Learning Sphere? It certainly has been a different year as we all know. Despite this, Learning Sphere has had an exceptional year. Firstly, as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, we delivered infectious clean training across almost 90 per cent of NSW Government service delivery sites including public schools, Police and Defence facilities. So really, when most where forced into hibernation we were out training essential services how to respond. This led to a request for advice from the Australian Government on disinfecting practices for all workplaces. Add to this the acquisition by Angus Knight of Learning Sphere, which started in December 2019, and completed end of June 2020, as well as being a NSW finalist for Training Provider of the Year; a lot of highlights.

What do you see as the major opportunities for Learning Sphere under the new ownership of Angus Knight? COVID-19 has highlighted the importance of cleaners and having a skilled workforce. Cleaning companies are feeling the weight of greater contract expectations with many requiring a measurable understanding of how competent the cleaning staff are. This is just the beginning, we can expect to see more benchmarking of cleaning and supervision staff to Australian qualifications or Skill Sets. Now Learning Sphere is under the Angus Knight Group, we have been able to give more assistance to our clients recruiting new workers – through Jobfind and Joblife - and local Aboriginal employees through Real Futures and Rise – are all part of the Angus Knight Group. Even for companies looking to meet their social procurement targets we can assist. The other advantage is that our operational footprint is now much larger, which means we are able to offer more services across most of Australia.

What will be the focus for Learning Sphere in 2021? There has been a huge uptake of new clients in 2020, so we expect another busy year. The introduction of new disinfectants that adhere to surfaces longer and can control microbial growths is becoming more important. 48 INCLEAN January / February 2021

We are pleased to have been involved in trials with Australian-made products like BioPROTECT. We are also on the Technical Advisory Group panel for updating Certificates II, III and IV Cleaning qualifications. We expect these updates to result in better flexibility across the cleaning industry, as well as the introduction of new Skill Sets – specific competencies to help people gain skills for entry into health, residential care, hard floor specialisation, and others.

How will COVID-19 impact contract expectations for cleaning companies post-pandemic? Having been involved in trials around the country, and observing how cleaners work, there is still some poor cleaning practices that need to change. The trials have involved observations and pre-and post-testing of surfaces using ATP readings, and sadly some have been totally ineffective to infection control. A number of cleaners, and even supervisors, still do not understand how bacteria lives, what correct steps need to be followed for infection control, as well as using disinfectants properly and understanding the difference between cleaning and disinfecting. These are important areas where the industries skills and knowledge must continue to lift not just for COVID-19 specific-cleaning, but for any potential outbreak in the future, or at least to prevent an outbreak occurring.

Do you have a message you would like to share with the industry? We see through innovation so many changes in our processes, the equipment we use and even our knowledge, so lifting the capacity of our industry’s people to embrace these change and advancements is paramount. We will keep seeing more guidelines and benchmarking in our tenders, and these need to be understood at every level of the business from the decision makers to the font line staff, that’s the only way companies can be sure contract expectations are being met. We keep saying that education needs to be a focal part of cleaning companies and this is still true. In fact, these skills need to be adopted at the top so more upskilling of managers and supervisors in the cleaning industry will help greatly. ■