Back in Hawaii, Higa and his colleagues are prepping for another summer semester of Ho’okipa and have students already interested in enrolling. The group has spent the 2013 school year expanding the curriculum with Kaimuki’s principal and building a new training center on campus to mimic a hotel room.

The training space features beds to teach linen changes, as well as cleaning around furniture. There’s also a culinary area so kids can learn how to prepare food — students will even cook and serve dishes for teacher meetings at the school. In addition, there will be a front desk section to teach customer interaction and a maintenance space to teach minor repairs.
If Ho’okipa continues to be successful, Higa hopes to replicate it at other schools in the area.

Expanding Ho’okipa around Hawaii will go a long way in replacing the potential thousands of retiring workers. But it will also help attract a new generation to the janitorial industry who will already have the skills needed to improve and advance the industry.

“It is important to get those that are open to the idea of working in the cleaning industry involved so we can evolve and sustain cleaning,” says Benz. “As I watch the young adults in the class, I see bright minds that can contribute more than just cleaning labor; they can contribute cleaning ideas and potentially lead cleaning [companies].”

Dan Weltin is the editor-in-chief of Contracting Profits and Sanitary Maintenance magazines.

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