Leaders Forum: Jane Wenman, Careerforce

INCLEAN NZ chats to Jane Wenman, CEO of Careerforce.

How was 2019 for Careerforce? What were the highlights? What where the challenges?

Highlights

Enrolments into cleaning qualifications grew from strength to strength. At the time of writing, new enrolments into cleaning qualifications grew 88 per cent from 2018 to 2019. This growth recognises a greater appreciation of the value that an appropriately trained workforce can have, not only in terms of ultimate client satisfaction, but also on workforce retention.

In 2019 we commenced a review of the New Zealand Certificate in Cleaning L2 with optional endorsement in Health Care Facilities Cleaning and the New Zealand Certificate in Cleaning L3 with optional strands in Specialist Cleaning and Supervision. Findings and recommendations have been presented to NZQA.

We’d like to thank everyone who has participated in the review and have published the analysis of all the feedback we received and our recommended changes to the qualifications, on the Careerforce website. Once we hear back from NZQA, we’ll write to those who participated in the review*. In 2020 we’ll be reviewing the Careerforce cleaning programmes (that lead to the qualifications).

Last year we  also celebrated our 25th anniversary. Careerforce started as an organisation of nine staff in Christchurch, and has now grown to an organisation of 160, working with more than 1000 employers nationwide, and presently supporting over 15,000 trainees and apprentices.

Careerforce was also a very enthusiastic supporter of Thank Your Cleaner Day. We welcome this initiative to celebrate this important workforce and to recognise the valuable and often unappreciated work they do.

Challenges

In February 2019, Minister Chris Hipkins announced proposed sweeping reforms to the entire vocational education system, aimed at creating a stronger, more unified, and sustainable vocational education system. In August, and following a period of public consultation, these reforms were largely confirmed to proceed.

In the short to medium term, this means very little for Careerforce employers and trainees. The Minister has absolutely affirmed his commitment to workplace-based training, highlighting a ‘gravitational pull’ in this direction. He furthermore committed to long transition timeframes.

He also emphasised his expectation for workplace-based training to grow during the transition, and actively encouraged employers to continue to engage in training, in the comfort that transitions will be very carefully managed.

What will be the immediate focus for Careerforce in 2020?

2020 will be very much business as usual for Careerforce as we continue our drive to encourage employers to train their staff. We don’t expect RoVE to have any effect, if any, over 2020.

We will also commence a review of our training programmes in 2020, that will reflect any changes resulting from the qualifications review and will again actively seek sector feedback.

What challenges and opportunities do you see for Careerforce looking ahead to 2020?

The response to our Spring Clean campaign highlighted the latent demand that is out there for more people working across the cleaning sector to upskill and gain formal qualifications. We see a real opportunity to further increase training across the sector and continue to encourage employers to recognise the benefits of a trained workforce.

The impact of the rollout of the reforms will continue to become clearer over 2020. Our focus will be on continuing to influence the outcomes via working constructively with education officials and ensuring that the best interests of our sectors are represented.

What do you expect will be the big trends of 2020?

We have noticed an increasing trend that more and more employers and contracts they are tendering for, are stating that cleaning staff must hold a cleaning qualification. This is a great move towards recognising cleaning as valuable occupation with a meaningful career path. We expect this trend to continue.

What key issues the industry should be discussing in 2020?

The industry should be discussing what the emerging trends are within the industry, and how do these need to be reflected in training programmes.

How do you see the cleaning landscape evolving into 2020?

As has happened across other sectors that Careerforce works across, we expect there will be an emerging trend for qualification requirements to be written into tender and contract requirements, particularly for cleaning organisations seeking public sector contracts.

Is there one key message you would like to share with the industry?

The importance of a well-trained and qualified workforce should be an investment, rather than a cost. Training and qualifications not only results in higher quality outcomes for clients and therefore client retention, but also in greater staff retention. Cleaning staff feel more valued, and the opportunities for training lead to better career prospects and life outcomes.

Read INCLEAN NZ’s inaugural Industry Leaders Forum in the February issue

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