Project: Cleaning

About cleaning

(This is one of a number of proposed projects being explored in the Property Services IRC's forthcoming 2020 Skills Forecast. Timing for this project will be decided based on an assessment of priorities across the property training package.)

Cleaning is a multi-billion-dollar industry in Australia, employing hundreds of thousands of people. 

As cleaning is an unlicensed occupation, there is no requirement for formal qualifications, and in the past, many cleaners learnt the tricks of the trade informally. However, there are advantages in making use of nationally recognised cleaning qualifications. These qualifications: 

  • support skill portability and career development
  • are often eligible for government funding
  • provide clients and employers with greater certainty that workers meet nationally accepted standards for safety and efficiency.

These advantages are increasingly being recognised in the industry, with a substantial increase in enrolments in cleaning qualifications in recent years—a 34% increase in Certificate II, III and IV enrolments (in cleaning operations, carpet cleaning and cleaning management) between 2015 and 2018. 

The Property Services IRC is keen to ensure these qualifications continue to meet the needs of workers, employers and the wider community. Some recent industry changes and issues are outlined below.

Performance-based contracts 

A shift is occurring from cleaning as a standard practice conducted at regular intervals to cleaning as a performance-based practice; that is, contracts are increasingly based on meeting performance measurements, rather than frequency requirements. Recording and monitoring of this, particularly in large facilities, is increasingly being managed through digital interfaces (see below).

Integrated digital delivery 

Integrated digital delivery using building information modelling (BIM) is transforming facilities management, including the management of cleaning operations. In coming years, both cleaning managers and front-line workers will need skills in using these systems. 

Human and environmental health

Commercial and residential clients are increasingly insisting on green technologies, materials and practices. Cleaners require an understanding of eco-friendly waste management and the use of nontoxic cleaning and pest control techniques. 

Infection control

Cleaners are part of the front-line defence against infectious diseases, such as the current coronavirus outbreak. It’s important that they have the skills and knowledge to help keep air and surfaces free of infectious materials. 


The 2018 Australian Government inquiry into biotoxin-related illness highlighted the impact of mould on human health. Cleaners have a key role in mould identification and eradication.

Disaster cleaning

Floods, fires, storms—Australia gets its share. We need a cleaning workforce with skills to deal with both day-to-day and emergency contingencies.

Robotic cleaning

Robots used to be the stuff of science fiction; but robotic vacuum cleaners, mops and window cleaners are now standard equipment in commercial and residential settings. Robotic cleaning will become more sophisticated and more pervasive in coming years. Cleaners need to be ready to use this technology.

Tell us your thoughts

In its forthcoming 2020 Skills Forecast, the Property Services IRC will provide further analysis of current and anticipated skill requirements in the cleaning industry. Based on this analysis, they will be assessing priorities for qualification and unit updates. They’re keen to hear advice from all industry stakeholders. 

Do the current qualifications:

  • align with the job requirements of cleaners in residential and commercial settings?
  • provide clear pathways for career development? 
  • meet worker, employer and client needs? 

 To have your say or register your interest in this proposed project, please contact Artibus Innovation:



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