Standards in vocational education and training for cleaners

The European industrial cleaning sector is a highly dynamic business employing a total work force of more than 3.5 million. Many of them have not received formal training, but the requirements on occupational skills within this craft are increasing due to application of new technologies and the development of new types of services. An international survey with experts from the Czech Republic, Germany, the Netherlands, Romania, and Slovenia revealed huge differences in the standard of knowledge regarding implementation of HACCP and QM into the national curricula for cleaners in a number of European countries. The picture given was that although hygiene training is compulsory for in-company cleaners in food industry, many employees of small cleaning businesses lack knowledge on the implications of this international WHO food standard. Knowledge on the requirements risen by HACCP based Hygiene Management Systems however is important to increase the competitiveness of small and medium sized enterprises. The experts therefore stated "a need for education in the hygiene demands of the food industry in the most of the investigated countries".

Examples of national standards for vocational education, in particular the national framework and the national curricula for building cleaners are given below.

New standards - towards a common European curriculum?

As the initial EU survey revealed huge differences in the number of theoretical training hours, a European Curriculum has been developed to define the standard of knowledge required to understand the implications of HACCP for cleaning enterprises. This curriculum includes basic concepts in Hygiene for the food industry, Hygiene and Microbiology, Cleaning Technology, and Cleaning and Disinfecting Agents. As a highlight, we also added a module on the new knowledge field of cleanroom cleaning. A major effect of HACCP will be extended requirements on documentation risen by the food industry. The standards set in this project will hopefully help reanimate discussions on a national curriculum for those countries without any, and may function as a starting point for a discussion on a EU-wide working guideline on HACCP in cleaning enterprises.