This is to provide an update that the ENHANCED CLEANING BUSINESS LICENSING FRAMEWORK will take effect on 1 January 2024. Please see attached PDF for more details.
From 1 January 2024, cleaning businesses will be differentiated into three classes of licences with a 2-year licence validity1. The enhancement comes amid rising demands for quality cleaning services, and growing manpower challenges in the cleaning sector. The changes will uplift public health standards in Singapore, as cleaning businesses deepen competencies, adopt productivity solutions, and create better employment opportunities.
The enhanced cleaning business licensing framework was introduced as part of the Environmental Public Health (Amendment) Bill in parliament on 9 January 2023 and passed on 6 February 20232.
Refer to this article for more information: Media Advisory: Enhanced Cleaning Business Licensing Framework PDF
1 Refer to Annex A for more information on the revised licensing requirements.
2 Refer to the media release here: https://go.gov.sg/9jan2023-mediarelease-cbl
The unmistakable whirring of a vacuum and sounds of incessant scrubbing on a bathroom floor tile fills up the atmosphere. Stained glass surfaces are spritzed with chemicals from spray bottles and wiped spotless with a rag.
Stationed behind each tool is Tan Jin Hui and his team at EasyCleanSG, a professional cleaning company licensed by the National Environment Agency (NEA).
As an operations manager, Jin Hui ensures that every member of the cleaning crew is equipped with knowledge about the company’s services by providing them with in-house training and sending them for external courses.
However, the 27-year-old was initially never quite acquainted with the world of cleaning.
He started out as an Electrical Engineering student, pursuing a Higher NITEC certification in the Institute of Technical Education (ITE). Thereafter, he attended Singapore Polytechnic for a two-year diploma course in Electrical Electronic Engineering.
Upon completion of his National Service, Jin Hui’s first glimpse into the workforce saw him as a coordinator in the construction sector. Finding it difficult to cope with the stress that came with the job, he decided to quit not long after he signed on.
As fate would have it, an opportunity arose in the midst of his resignation. His current business partner, Joel, had approached him to venture into the cleaning industry. Despite having little prior knowledge about the profession, he agreed.
“We started by selling off some cleaning supplies and products, because we still had other full-time jobs. For myself, I actually enrolled into another electrical company where we supplied high-voltage electrical equipment to Singapore PowerGrid,” said Jin Hui.
“I stayed there for around two years, before I left and started doing this full-time,” he added.
Today, EasyCleanSG serves as a “one-stop service provider” for customers. Services such as painting, air conditioning, marble polishing and disinfection for residential and commercial areas are just some of the services provided.
A usual work day begins with an on-site briefing that is conducted with a potential client to address specific areas of concern.
Once the team and the client have mutually agreed on the tasks to be completed in the space, the appointed service leader will assign individual tasks to each member.
For the cleaning procedures, the crew utilises multiple techniques. One of which is the High-Low method – where the top area of the space is cleared first for dust to descend to the ground. Dirt and other debris will then be swept away when works begin for the bottom half of the space.
Alternatively, the team would start cleaning from the room located furthest away from the entrance and work their way out. This ensures that their efforts are fully optimised within the stipulated time.
However, coming up with this extensive list of cleaning techniques was no easy feat. Rather, it is still a work in progress. Till today, Jin Hui and his team continue to sharpen their abilities by sending each other short videos of cleaning hacks from various social media platforms.
Apart from this, they also challenge their problem-solving skills by “throwing themselves into difficult situations” to think of effective cleaning solutions in real time.
Though he has now gained more knowledge and refined his skills, starting out was challenging due to Jin Hui’s lack of expertise in the profession.
He even admits to the initial reservations he had towards the occupation – that it was “a low-wage, dirty kind of job meant for the older generations”.
Ironically, he was then subjected to stereotypes when he began his career as a cleaner. Because of his age, Jin Hui was deemed as inexperienced and caused potential clients to be doubtful over the quality of his team’s cleaning services.
The EasyCleanSG team would then have to win over these clients with their attention to detail and thoroughness in cleaning.
Concerns about his knowledge of the job were raised not only by clients, but among Jin Hui’s family as well. Before he had fully committed to cleaning as a career, his family members were worried about uncertainties surrounding the job scope, wage and working hours.
His insistence on pursuing his new career path was something that his family eventually had to come to terms with, regardless of their concerns.
Another challenge that comes with the job is the futile efforts to source for more manpower.
Because of the strenuous physical labour required for the job, many are put off from the idea of working in the cleaning industry.
Bending over backwards and scrubbing away for hours is the bare minimum required for this profession. According to Jin Hui, the average four-room flat is completed by his team in four to five hours. For places with extreme conditions, it may go up to nine hours.
“(The fact that) our job is very labour-intensive, together with the stigma of the public’s viewpoint that it’s a dirty job – it’s very, very hard for us to find additional manpower,” he laments.
Like any other job, the financial aspect is arguably one of the most important considerations when selecting a career to pursue. However, this was not a priority of Jin Hui’s.
Although his current income is not affected by the number of jobs he accepts, it is still substantially less than what he would be earning had he continued in engineering.
“We are still trying to maintain (our services) at a bearable cost that customers are willing to pay. As such, we are still trying to fight as much as possible to have an increase (in salary),” said Jin Hui.
Despite the money woes, witnessing a satisfied customer’s reaction to EasyCleanSG’s work serves as motivation for Jin Hui to persevere through his job.
Receiving the Environmental Services Star Award last year in December was a testament to his efforts. He shares that he feels recognised for his contributions to the industry.
The award is presented by NEA to those who have demonstrated exceptional service excellence, good leadership, a proactive attitude to upskilling themselves and made outstanding contributions to environmental sustainability in their profession.
One of his goals for the future of the cleaning industry is to encourage youths to join his profession. Along with defusing negative stereotypes about the industry, Jin Hui hopes to emphasise the importance of cleaners and their value in society.
When asked about advice for youths who are considering a career switch, he mentions three key points – to recognise one’s passions, to be open-minded and to take the first step out by giving the job a try.
As he was initially almost closed off to the idea of working as a cleaner, he explained that it was the idea of making a difference in the industry that convinced him to embark on the new prospect.
“So what really changed my mind were the end results that (Joel) wanted – to bring more youths into this industry and to create an impact, where we hoped that this particular industry would be viewed as a professional profession, just like all other professions.”
Please join us in extending a warm welcome to Cecilia Woo as the new Executive Director of EMAS.
Cecilia has more than 5 years of working experience, as Executive Director, in the Trade Associations and Chambers (TACs) sector.
Prior to this, she has about 30 years of working experience in the media industry holding several positions such as Sales and Marketing VP, General Manager and Managing Director.
What is ETIH@TP
• To establish an ideation & learning space for development, test-bedding and sharing of industrial best practices and benchmarking for industrial adoption in collaboration with industry players, trade associations, institutes of higher learning (IHLs) and government agencies.
• Working closely with partners, ETIH@TP aims to gather different perspectives and thoughts and transform them into ideas and projects to create products and services that could uplift the entire environmental cleaning industry.
• We also aim to upskill the workforce with facilitated training and coaching programmes that are validated collectively by government agencies, IHLs and trade associations.
The underlying inspiration to initiate ETIH@TP
• Because of urbanization, Covid-19 pandemic and mandatory Environment, Social and Governance (ESG) reporting, the demand for environmental cleaning services continues to rise.
• The common approach of increasing manpower to meet the service demand, quantitatively and qualitatively, is not sustainable as a result of our manpower constraints and aging society.
• It is therefore crucial to transform and level up the environmental cleaning industry by optimizing operations and processes, developing and adopting technologies as well as upskilling workers for long term productivity gain and sustainable growth.
• In alignment with the objectives of the Environment Services Industry Transformation Map (ES ITM), EITH@TP aims to make our contribution by developing capability, test-bedding and sharing of industrial best practices and benchmarks for adoption of robotics & automation technologies in Built Environment, digital performance/outcome evaluation for productivity and low carbon emission operation in Built Environment.
Who are involved in ETIH@TP
• National Environment Agency (NEA), Institutes of Higher Learning (IHLs) and enviro tech consortia.
• ETIH@TP is a Living Laboratory hosted in Temasek Polytechnic (TP), coordinated by TP, EMAS and LS 2 Holdings Limited in collaboration with enviro tech consortium partners namely Republic Power Pte Ltd, Cleantools Pte Ltd, Karcher Singapore Pte Ltd & Nilfisk Pte Ltd.
Source of this article by LS2 Holdings Limited, refer to this: 230607_Factsheet_for_Enviro_Tech_Innovation_Hub_at_TP
Temasek Polytechnic (“TP”), together with the Environmental Management Association of Singapore (“EMAS”), and industry players LS 2 Holdings Limited (“LS2”), Republic Power Pte Ltd (“Republic Power”), Cleantools Pte Ltd (“Cleantools”), Karcher Singapore Pte Ltd (“Karcher”), and Nilfisk Pte Ltd (“Nilfisk”) joined hands today to launch Singapore’s first Enviro Tech Innovation Hub (“ETIH@TP”).
This Innovation Hub will serve as a pioneering “Living Laboratory” dedicated to the advancement of sustainable environmental cleaning and integrated facilities management. The first-of-its-kind in Singapore, the hub will serve as a platform for developing capabilities, cocreation and test-bedding of innovative solutions in the cleaning industry. ETIH@TP will be housed within TP and will operate under the joint coordination of TP, EMAS, and LS 2, in collaboration with a consortium of enviro tech partners including Republic Power, Cleantools, Karcher and Nilfisk, with the support of the National Environment Agency (NEA).
The seven organisations jointly signed a Memorandum of Understanding today at the CESG Catalyst 2023 event at the Sands Expo and Convention Centre, Marina Bay Sands Singapore. The MOU signing was witnessed by Mr Ng Chun Pin, Deputy Chief Executive Officer (Planning, Corporate and Technology) of NEA and Mr Aw Tuan Kee, Deputy Principal of Temasek Polytechnic.
The ETIH@TP will officially open its door at the end of 2023 and will be accessible to all environmental cleaning industry partners in a bid to support transformation in the Environmental Services (ES) industry. ETIH@TP will also promote training and skills development through joint CET courses. [Refer to Annex for more information on ETIH@TP.]
Mr Song Kwok Yuen, Director, School of Engineering at Temasek Polytechnic said, “Temasek Polytechnic is committed to support the transformation of the environment industry. ETIH@TP will curate and offer customised workforce upskilling courses and programmes that are validated collectively by government agencies, IHLs and trade associations to meet targeted training needs in the environmental services industry. We hope to grow awareness and upskill workers to adopt new technologies such as robotics and automation, IoT and data analytics in environmental services. We will also develop training programs to support those in new job roles such as, integrated facility specialists, sustainability specialists.”
Mr Tony Chooi, EMAS President said, “Through consultation and joint effort with the National Environment Agency, TP and EMAS together with enviro tech consortium partners (such as LS2, Republic Power, Cleantools, Karcher, Nilfisk, etc.), the Hub will plan and carry out initiatives for workforce upskilling, talent development and test-bedding of new solutions. EMAS and enviro tech consortium partners will also provide consultancy on outcome-based contracting to help address the issues of manpower constraints and to boost efficiency and productivity in the fast-changing environmental cleaning landscape.”
Mr. Alvin Ong, CEO of LS 2 said, “Reinventing our operational models and refreshing our skillsets is critical in today’s world where technology (such as robotics and AI) will push us to rethink and rebuild our business operating models in order to stay agile and competitive. With the ETIH@TP, we are able to support and expedite the skills and capabilities transformation of environmental cleaning industry players and help them to undergo the relevant digital transition to manage ongoing challenges whilst enabling them to take on fresh opportunities, not just in Singapore but also in global markets. We are therefore seeking like-minded practitioners to join ETIH@TP to grow and contribute to the development of tech solutions, innovations and robotics for the environmental cleaning industry.”
The launch of ETIH@TP align with the goals of the Environmental Services Industry Transformation Map (ES ITM 2025), which aims to enhance ongoing industry transformation initiatives by fostering the development of technology-driven companies and exploring emerging areas of growth in environmental sustainability. For more information on ES ITM 2025, visit https://www.nea.gov.sg/industry-transformation-map/environmental-services-industrytransformation-map.
Source of this article by LS2 Holdings Limited, refer to this article: 230607_Media_Release__Launch_Enviro_Tech_Innovation_Hub_at_TP
Singapore’s cleaning sector must look to technology and digitalisation to improve efficiency and overcome manpower challenges, says Senior Minister of State for Sustainability and the Environment Amy Khor. As the cleaning workforce ages, innovation becomes especially important to attract young people, she adds. Claudia Lim reports.
Click the link to watch the video: Channel NewsAsia
More SMEs appear to be stepping up when it comes to workplace safety. The Workplace Safety and Health Council said the number of monthly sign-ups for the StartSAFE programme has more than doubled since September last year. That is when the heightened safety period kicked in to address a concerning rise in workplace fatalities. Seven deaths have been reported since the start of the year.
Video Source: Youtube – Official CNA Channel
In parliament on Feb 6, MPs debated the Environment Public Health Bill. They called for extra penalties, including mandatory Corrective Work Orders for all littering offenders, not just recalcitrant ones. The bill, which was passed, also seeks stricter licensing rules for waste management and cleaning companies, as well as progressive wages for their staff.
Video Source: Youtube – Official CNA channel