This is part two of a three-part article on how one facility manager improved the cleaning throughout his school district, while simultaneously providing a better future for his staff and the industry as a whole.

The staff training met our current need for developing an effective, efficient and consistent custodial program [at Newport News Pubilc Schools], but additional opportunities for developing skilled workers still sat on the horizon. I believe professional organizations and networking are an important part of leadership and departmental development, which is why our school division belongs to ISSA, National School Plant Managers Association, as well as the state chapter, Virginia School Plant Managers Association (VSPMA).

Through my involvement with VSPMA, which includes custodians as part of the organization, I learned about the Division of Registered Apprenticeship program that Virginia’s Department of Labor and Industry (DoLI) was promoting to address the shortage of skilled trades in the state. The program had addressed 40 different trades, but custodial was not a listed skill area. At that same time, I also learned that Augusta County, in western Virginia, was working on Career Enhancement Programs with the Virginia Community College System, which did include custodial. To say I was interested would have been an understatement.

I soon contacted Augusta County to see what they might be willing to share. A joint meeting with them and a representative of the Virginia Community College System revealed that the program was working well for them, but it was not quite what we needed. They utilize custodians for maintenance work and the curriculum reflected that. So we started the process of inventing a new apprenticeship program in the state.

Our Human Resources department had been working through committees to try to establish career ladders for the support staff, so this proved to be a logical place to start. I knew this apprenticeship idea could grow legs and address a need larger than my own, and I wasn’t surprised that they embraced the idea and became ideal partners in getting the program off the ground.

We began the process by meeting with our regional workforce development group, a sub-set of the community college system, and a representative of the DoLI. We learned that our particular need was unique and hence, no curriculum existed that we could copy. We also learned the minimum requirements necessary for the state to sanction our efforts and what would be required for enrollment in the apprenticeship program.

We were fortunate to have done our task analysis, as well as the CMI work, because we now had to take it to the next level and get outside our comfort zone. Our trainers were about to become educators. And each instructor had to present credentials to the state for approval, as well as syllabi of coursework.

As you might imagine, the in-house supervisory staff, while certainly competent in their trade areas, were not the best option to teach the “all-around” aspects required for the program. Instead, we reached out to retired educators to teach modules and tapped into our Employee Assistance Program, which helped train in areas such as “behaviors of successful people.”

previous page of this article:
Identifying The Need For Improved Custodial Training
next page of this article:
Details Of A Custodial Apprenticeship Program