research-report-96-coming-clean-contractual-and-procurement-practices.doc

Associated strong cost competition for contracts

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associated strong cost competition for contracts, shape a low-road approach to skill and training provision where employers commit to only weak investment in skill development, summarised in Figure 17.2. Figure 17.2 Varying client engagement with supplier skill and training provision The case studies confirm the predominance of basic-level training within the industry. Most training concerns skills taught during the very start of employment. In addition, most skills taught are quite rudimentary, as illustrated by the possibility to teach four 122
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IMPLICATIONS FOR POLICY AND PRACTICE to five core BICS modules within a single day. At the same time, employer willingness to invest in training differs substantially across the case studies. At the airport, for example, the cleaning firm provided numeracy and literacy training and in several cases, cleaning companies offered additional training to selected members of the cleaning workforce to support internal career development, in two cases resulting in NVQ qualifications. They also provide significant evidence for further variation in training provision shaped by the intervention of the client organisation. Several types of training were extended by the client to the subcontracted cleaning workforce, often as a means towards better integrating the indirect workforce with other workers at the client workplace. This both established a common unity of purpose among a fragmented workforce and inculcated a shared ethos to meet customer expectations about an integrated service delivery. Such variation in the approach of clients (as well as suppliers), illustrates the fact that training is an area of strategic choice. In spite of the characteristics of the industry, including the strong price-led competition for contracts, our data suggest firms are able, but not always willing, to invest in training. Also, even where some training investment is made, this is not necessarily coupled with better pay, as discussed above. At least two further factors play a role. The first concerns the organisation of work. Relatively high investments in training tend to be linked to the wider involvement of staff in activities beyond strict cleaning tasks. The reshaping of job definitions is indicative of how better management practices can positively inform both training and job enrichment. The second factor concerns the important role of client organisations, shaped by the specificities of the local contract. It is striking that both the airport and the college subcontracted to the same company, CleanA. Yet while the airport extended part of its training programme to all subcontracted workers on site and encouraged a zonal approach to cleaning that fostered a greater sense of individual job responsibility, the college demanded a cost reduction strategy leading to a diminishing of working conditions and job satisfaction.
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