#CrisisCareersHeroes: Keeping things clean and working

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Graphics depicting fields of work in this article

This week, we are celebrating the amazing #CrisisCareersHeroes who are helping us all get through the coronavirus outbreak. At Success at School, we want to thank all of these amazing people from the bottom of our hearts and help you learn more about the things they do in their jobs.

Today we’re focusing on the workers who are keeping things clean and workingCheck out our main page to see more articles.

If there are any jobs we have missed, please tweet @successatschool on the hashtag #CrisisCareersHeroes and we’ll aim to do a shout out.


What do they do?

Cleaner graphic

Cleaners are responsible for keeping the area they oversee clean, tidy and hygienic. This could be or a public building, an outdoor space or a home. This includes dusting, hoovering, mopping, wiping down and polishing floors, surfaces and objects. They are also responsible for emptying bins and replacing soaps and sanitizers. They may carry out deep cleans frequently or periodically depending on the environment. Cleaners also manage stocks of cleaning supplies and may be responsible for ordering new stock or letting their line manager know about low supplies. Cleaners are among the most vital workers in our society as they keep the spaces we use not only clean and pleasant but safe from disease and pollution.

How has their role been affected by coronavirus?

Cleaners are vital to the effort to contain coronavirus because cleaning is essential to eliminate the virus and stop more people getting infected. They clean hospitals, including corridors, toilets, offices, reception and waiting areas, eating areas and specialist units as well as wards used by coronavirus patients. In this setting, we rely on cleaners not only to generally limit infection but also to protect patients in hospital for other reasons who make be weak or vulnerable due to their medical condition. Cleaners also work in public places such as buses and trains, takeaway food outlets (which are still operating) and the streets as well. Cleaners take a huge personal risk as they work to protect the rest of us, exposing themselves to coronavirus as they go about their daily work.

Cleaner with mop

Cleaners keep hospitals, homes and public

spaces clean and sanitary

Job stats

  • Pay: £15,000.
  • Average working week: 39-41 hours.
  • Types of shift: Daytime, evening, weekends.
  • Demand: The number of cleaning jobs is likely to remain stable over the coming years.

How can I become a cleaner?

Cleaning jobs do not require qualifications and you can apply by direct application. You will go through some training to ensure you know how to perform each cleaning task adequately.

Refuse collectors

What do they do?

Refuse collection graphic

Really we are looking at two jobs here: refuse collection drivers and bin loaders.

Refuse collection drivers drive bin wagons. They are given a collection map and are responsible for working out the best route based on their knowledge of the local area, an understanding of traffic volume and so on. They have to manoeuvre around parked vehicles, narrow lanes and cul-de-sacs and ensure the lorry gets as close to all bins as possible. They are also responsible for ensuring the route is completed on time.

Bin loaders are on their feet for much of the working day. They collect bags from the kerbside and throw them into the lorry as well attaching bins to the lorry’s loading arm for emptying into the vehicle. They must also check and sort waste from recycling. All of this has to be done quickly to ensure the route is completed on time. It is a very physical job which requires strength and stamina.

How has their role been affected by coronavirus?

Refuse workers are essential to the smooth-running of society – imagine the danger of disease if bin bags started piling up in the streets. Refuse teams handle waste from everyone in the community and some households will have coronavirus cases, placing teams at risk of contracting the virus. Since they travel around within the cab of the bin wagon, they also risk spreading the virus to colleagues as they’re unable to fully observe social distancing measures at work. Some councils and contractors are aiming to supply their workers with hand sanitizer and gloves as well as deep cleaning the vehicle cab, but this is not being followed widely enough to keep all refuse workers safe.

Rubbish collection

Refuse collection drivers are responsible for

planning the route and timely collection

Job stats

  • Pay: £17,000.
  • Average working week: 38-40 hours.
  • Types of shift: Morning.
  • Demand: Number of jobs expected to remain stable over the coming years.

How can I become a refuse collector?

You can become a refuse collection worker through direct application or an apprenticeship and will receive training on the job. No particular qualifications are needed although as usual, good GCSEs are a bonus.

Maintenance engineers

Maintenance engineer graphic

What do they do?

Maintenance engineers are the highly skilled tradespeople and technicians who install and repair everything we need to keep our homes, businesses and public buildings up and running. This includes electricians, plumbers, gas and oil engineers and telecoms engineers.

How has their role been affected by coronavirus?

We are reliant on maintenance engineers to repair our boilers, phone lines, water mains and other household essentials when things go wrong. Things haven’t stopped breaking down just because of the coronavirus outbreak, so these professionals still have to work. Because they must enter people’s homes and businesses to carry out their jobs, they are at increased risk of infection.

Boiler repair

Things haven't stopped going wrong just

because of the coronavirus outbreak

Job stats

  • Pay: Varies depending on field and experience. A gas service technician earns £33,000 on average per year.
  • Average working week: 40 hours.
  • Types of shift: Daytime, evening, weekends.
  • Demand: Jobs are expected to grow slowly over the coming years.

How can I become a maintenance engineer?

As a highly skilled job, maintenance engineers within all fields require extensive training and often qualifications to do their jobs. You can study college courses in many of these areas but it may be better to pursue the apprenticeship route. This way, you will learn on the job while gaining pay and working towards relevant qualifications. As an example, check out this guide to electrical apprenticeships.

Water treatment workers

Water treatment works

What do they do?

Water treatment workers filter sewage, removing debris and waste so that water can safely re-enter our rivers. They also clean water as it enters the drinking water supply. This involves using machinery and equipment, cleaning and maintaining tanks and filters, adding chemicals and microbes to water and testing samples to ensure quality and safety. It is an essential job at all times – without clean water to drink and use for other purposes, we would be at risk of disease.

How has their role been affected by coronavirus?

Water companies are limiting water treatment staff to those who have to be there. Because they have been identified as key workers providing essential services by the government, water treatment workers will continue to carry out their jobs so that we have clean water to drink. Staff will follow social-distancing rules where possible but being in work puts them at heightened risk of catching coronavirus.

Water treatment worker

The treatment of water and sewage is vital

for a functioning society

Job stats

  • Pay: £24,000.
  • Average working week: 24-44 hours.
  • Types of shift: Daytime, evening, weekend.
  • Demand: Job numbers are expected to drop significantly over the next few years.

How can I become a water treatment worker?

You could do a college course before applying for a regular job. If you have good GCSEs, you could apply for a level 2 (equivalent to 5 GCSEs) or 3 apprenticeship (equivalent to 2 A-levels) in water engineering. This will be a paid job with training and qualifications.

If there are any jobs we have missed, please tweet @successatschool on the hashtag #CrisisCareersHeroes and we’ll aim to do a shout out.

Check out our main #CrisisCareersHeroes page to learn about other workers who are helping us get through the coronavirus crisis.

Images: graphics by macrovector, gstudioimagen and studiogstock via Freepik, cleaner by Aqua Mechanical, refuse collection by Eden Janine and Jim, water treatment by DFID



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