JACKI Durance is on a one-woman mission to persuade young people to look on cleaning as a positive career choice.
After decades working in the business, she has now set up her own firm, Durance Cleaning Services, in UK Steel Enterprise’s Innovation Centre in Redcar and has already taken on her first apprentice.
Durance started her first cleaning job at Teesside Polytechnic, aged 17, but quickly climbed the career ladder into management and sales.
She has worked for Initial and ISS Facilities Services, two of the world’s largest providers, and has cleaned everything from offices and private homes to prisons and North Sea oil rigs.
In that time she has won millions of pounds’ worth of cleaning contracts for her employers.
Now her own firm has won its own first contract with UK Steel Enterprise, the Tata Steel subsidiary that runs the Innovation Centre where around 50 tenants run their businesses from offices and workshops.
Durance is determined to create jobs in her home area and has started with a team of four and 19-year-old apprentice Amy Pearson.
She said: “Having been unemployed for five months I am really enjoying my apprenticeship. I am starting to learn from the bottom up because unless I know exactly what the job entails I won’t be able to sort out any problems when I’m in a management role.”
Durance says she has enjoyed every minute of her working life and has wanted to launch her own cleaning business for some time.
She said: “I really want young people to look at the sector and the opportunities it will give them if they are enthusiastic and committed. My apprentices will receive the highest standard of training, with a major emphasis on safety, and be able to take the relevant NVQs. Young people have a lot to offer and should never be used as cheap labour. They could get a great deal of satisfaction and pride out of this job if it’s well done.”
Durance has just returned from the International Cleaning Show in Amsterdam where she caught up with all the latest methods, equipment and products.
She is now actively marketing Durance Cleaning Services, including the distribution of 5,000 leaflets shaped as yellow rubber gloves.