Boost cleaning with specialist title, skills certification and attractive salaries

The steps could be taken to attract more locals to pursue a career as cleaners.

Nuratikah Athilya Hassan
Nuratikah Athilya Hassan
22 May 2024 10:00am
The government and companies managing cleaning jobs need to review the job title and mandate the possession of skills certificates to elevate the level of professionalism in this field. Inset: Abdul Rahim, Nurul Sakinah.
The government and companies managing cleaning jobs need to review the job title and mandate the possession of skills certificates to elevate the level of professionalism in this field. Inset: Abdul Rahim, Nurul Sakinah.
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SHAH ALAM - The government and companies managing cleaning jobs need to rebrand their career and mandate the possession of skill certificates to elevate the level of professionalism in this field.

Future Labour Market Studies Centre (EU-ERA) Economist Nurul Sakinah Ngaini said that the approach was a step that could be taken to attract more locals to pursue a career as cleaners.

“We take the example of Singapore, where a consulting institution (Singapore Job of Redesign) was established to ensure the industry can increase productivity and implement more efficient work processes. Thus, the industry gains significant returns from the productivity boost of workers.

“The title of cleaner can be changed to operator or cleaning specialist, and it should be mandatory for every worker to have a skills certificate to prove they have the best qualifications in the sector,” she said.

Meanwhile, Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia Faculty of Leadership and Management Senior Lecturer Associate Professor Dr Abdul Rahim Zumrah said that offering lucrative salaries and several special incentives would help change public perception of the career.

“Honestly, it is quite difficult to change because the mentality towards such jobs is rather negative, similar to the term construction labour. In my view, lucrative salary offers can attract locals to get involved.

“Additionally, employers need to introduce some professional elements by providing a job scope and special incentives for workers in terms of safety and health allowances.

“This is because cleaning jobs expose workers to chemicals (cleaning agents), so employers need to provide health protection,” he said.

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Meanwhile, in search of a lawful livelihood and to avoid unemployment, some local youths were willing to work as cleaners even though many were not interested in the job.

In fact, they revealed that this unpopular job among locals can offer a decent income if a worker has experience and works for a long period.

Harwansyah Ahmad, 36, from Gombak, said he started working as a cleaner after completing his Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) because he did not want to be unemployed and wanted to gain work experience.

“I never felt ashamed to work as a cleaner because my intention was to earn money. My salary at that time was around RM900 a month. I worked for several years before switching to a runner job, but for the past three years, I have returned to the cleaning sector as a cleaner supervisor,” he said.

Harwansyah said working in the cleaning sector did not mean a person will only hold a broom until old age, as there were opportunities for promotion and even becoming a boss by starting their own cleaning company.

Naqiyah Ahmad, 45, from Batu Caves, said that cleaning work had become part of her life since she started in the field 20 years ago.

The mother of two shared that she started as a cleaner for three years before being promoted to head worker and now holds the position of senior zone supervisor under the cleaning contractor company Q-Services Sdn Bhd.

“Although many people look down on this job, I enjoy working because it is not stressful. Before becoming a cleaner, I worked as a stock clerk in a supermarket but faced a lot of pressure, unlike my current job.

“My employer also provides courses for me and my colleagues to increase our knowledge and skills so that we can perform our tasks more efficiently,” she said.