ISSA Education: Pandemic Produces Precise Pivoting

Categories: Cleaning for Health, ISSA, Management

By Brant Insero | January 11, 2021 << Back to Articles ISSA Education: Pandemic Produces Precise Pivoting

January 2020 was the month of hope for a year of growth, impact, and opportunity that quickly changed within 45 days.

We witnessed a historic coronavirus pandemic that forced every single individual in the world to look at life completely different. It did not matter who you were or where you worked, things changed. The question inside many of our organizations we all faced very quickly is, “How do we adapt as leaders?”  

The answer is quite simple actually—partnerships, community, and programs.

As many companies started to worry about their business, ISSA had to step up to the plate with other organizations to create a large-scale team approach that brought solutions to the masses. This allowed every single company to know that we stood up to the challenge and we were ready for a fight against an invisible war.   

I believe the story of last year is told through action, and ISSA adopted a well-thought-out plan leveraging education, training, certification, and accreditation.

ISSA had long-standing programs that were a natural response to help some of the industry but nothing that at that time completely addressed the current pandemic. The association turned to the newly merged Global Biorisk Advisory Council® (GBAC) to lead the charge with its prepare, respond, recover thesis to pandemic response. ISSA worked with GBAC directors and other subject matter experts to create a COVID-19 digital resource library that included newsletters, case studies, webinars and much more. The association also developed the GBAC Trained Technician course that has provided a certificate of completion to thousands of professionals since this asynchronous course was launched in early spring. As part of an overall initiative to help the industry create a sustainable recovery plan, ISSA launched GBAC® STAR, a performance -based accreditation program that enabled thousands of facilities to embrace 20 key elements of a response plan to reinforce consumer confidence that the accredited locations were safe to patronize and verify organizations were indeed following proper protocols. The launch of GBAC STAR Service Accreditation for contractors allowed facilities to close the gap for consumers by providing third-party validation of a cleaning staff’s cleaning, disinfection, and infection prevention protocols and procedures.

GBAC also forged partnerships over 40 other associations and partners formed relationships to bring GBAC and other ISSA programs to their stakeholders. These partners realized that ISSA brings true value to their members and customers through accreditation and educational programs.

ISSA’s Cleaning Management Institute (CMI) became even more important as organizations looked to create career pathways for their cleaning professionals in 2020. Throughout the year, we saw thousands of individuals participate in CMI’s Certified Custodial Technician program to provide them the core competencies in cleaning as disinfection. While the pandemic restricted travel and drastically changed safety protocols, we saw an increase in demand for customized onsite training. CMI also launched a series of virtual workshops that saw some of the highest attended events ever in the history of the organization.

One of the major challenges that organizations saw in 2020 was their workloading. Due to this increased demand, CMI has developed a new certification called the Certified Workloading Specialist to launch in 2021. Industry professionals have also requested cleaning times specific to disinfection and robotics—the ability to cohabitate with autonomous equipment. In line with the new certification workshop, ISSA is updating its Cleaning Times & Tasks handbook that promises to provide the most dynamic and living document, with updates planned on a more consistent basis.

ISSA Online Learning Institute
ISSA also witnessed a major demand early in the pandemic for on-demand online learning courses. The association launched its single sign on platform in the spring to deliver instant access to hundreds of courses, including the GBAC Trained Technician, CMI Custodial Technician, safety courses, and many others that everyone could access from the comfort and safety of their home or office. The Online Learning Institute has quickly become the backbone for education and information to many ISSA members and we project that this trend will continue in 2021.

ISSA’s Cleaning Industry Management Standard (CIMS) became a resource for contract cleaning professionals establish their importance in maintaining a safe and healthy environment. Over the past decade, CIMS has progressively driven change in hundreds of organizations through in-person assessments from some of the industries most recognized subject matter experts and consultants. As the pandemic dragged on through 2020, CIMS pivoted its model of in-person assessments to virtual assessments. Without skipping a beat, hundreds of organizations could remain compliant with the CIMS standard and continue to deliver a service to their customers that has their health and safety as a top priority.

As ISSA prepares to provide valuable resources to members, we recognize that we will eventually enter the new normal where cleaning will never be the same. 2020 will forever change the landscape of the cleaning industry.

Whether it is asynchronous learning through our online learning institute, virtual workshops or in-person training, 2021 will be a year to drive excellence through certification and accreditation programs. We must validate and verify knowledge, performance, and execution.

New Year, New Offerings
As you plan your 2021, do not forget to invest in your people. They truly are the ones making the difference daily. ISSA is extremely excited to provide many events virtually and in-person.

One of the most notable new courses launching in 2021 through CMI is the Certified Workloading Specialist virtual workshop in February. This course will instruct all member types on the skillset of workloading a facility properly.

2021 also promises to bring a more regional approach to in-person certification courses in over 50 locations that require kinesthetic learning experiences while continuing to off virtual workshops for theoretical or academic-based learning. To learn more about the educational programming in 2021, please contact our team at [email protected].

About the Author.

Brant Insero is ISSA director of education, training, certification and standards. He can be reached at [email protected]; phone, 847-982-0800.