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This is not just a “mop and bucket” industry. Adult basic training for cleaners, it is a professional sector that provides an essential service to companies. Successful companies rely on these services to ensure clean, healthy and safe workplaces for their employees. Certainly, a clean office also portrays a positive image of a company to customers and clients and supply-chain partners. 

Enterprising contract cleaning companies know that trained staff better understand how their work impacts the brands that they represent. This is in addition to how their jobs influence environments; workplaces; and living spaces. Aligned and engaged employees work in a professional and responsible manner. They understand that they are “brand ambassadors”. This is when engaging with others while performing their duties. The state in which they leave spaces at the end of their shifts also speaks volumes about the contract service company that they work for.

Therefore, enterprising contract cleaning services focus on developing both the “hard” and “soft” skills of their employees. The basis of both are basic education skills that are learnt during AET training. For many employees in this industry who cannot even speak English properly, ABET training is just the start. Adult education programmes pave the way forward for further training for staff development. Just as importantly, education development for employees provides your staff with essential life skills. This is so that they can also grow and develop as individuals and make a substantial contribution to their communities. Refer to

Basic training prepares employees

Adult basic training prepares employees for a lifelong learning journey. Equipped with education skills, employees can continue honing and refining their “hard” skills. 

An example of an important “hard skill” in the outsource cleaning industry is commercial cleaning. This involves maintaining large office buildings, schools and apartment complexes. Employees provide routine and detailed cleaning of interior and exterior spaces. In doing so, they will use professional equipment and cleaning materials. This while following strict guidelines for each contract to ensure that they leave spaces in pristine condition. Another “hard skill” that these workers master is the process of exchanging or replacing air filters in a space or system. This is to ensure a healthy and comfortable environment for occupants of a building. All of these “hard skills” can only be mastered if employees can read and write, and have basic numbers skills. 

A typical example of a “soft” skill that is desired by most employers is a strong work ethic. This is why so many individuals who are looking for a cleaning job describe themselves as “hard working” and “dedicated” in their CVs. Certainly, employees must also possess organisational skills to manage inventories of cleaning supplies. This is just one of many “soft” skills that underpin outstanding performance by cleaning staff. Employees who exhibit these qualities can at least read a short text for meaning. You also expect them to have the absolute basic numbers skills. This is so that they can keep an accurate account of cleaning inventory. It is an absolute minimum requirement that reputable contract cleaning companies expect from their staff.

Quality adult basic training

Quality adult basic training is more than just teaching your employees how to read and write. Rather, literacy equips your employees with the knowledge needed to comprehend, analyse and communicate effectively. This component of ABET training teaches phonics, vocabulary, reading comprehension and writing skills. Developing these basic education skills enhances cognitive abilities, as well as critical thinking and writing proficiencies. 

Meanwhile, numeracy training teaches employees basic numbers skills. Workers who have these basic numeracy skills can solve problems and make informed decisions in the workplace. Adult education and training teaches number sense; basic mathematical operations; measurement; and data analysis. This skills are an essential of Adult basic training for cleaners.

Importantly, employees who learn these skills also have a solid foundation for further training for staff development. This ensures that companies can continue improving their techniques and practices. New technologies are constantly being introduced to provide cleaner, healthier, safer and more comfortable environments. Equipped with basic education skills, employees can learn how to work with them. Sometimes, employees will be expected to comply with unique health and safety, as well as environmental requirements of clients. This will be an extremely steep learning curve for low skilled and unskilled employees. Non-compliance may cost you an important cleaning contract. 

Completing adult basic education

Completing adult basic training, employees learn for General Education and Training Certificate. This is often simply referred to as an “ABET Level 4 certificate”. Refer to GETC-ABET Level 4 (NQF L1) ( This denotes basic education skills at a National Qualifications Framework Level 1. Refer to A4_NQF – AET Levels Descriptor (

A reputable ABET provider will offer upskill training for unskilled employees that lead to this qualification. First-and-foremost, such an AET provider is accredited by Umalusi Council. The Council establishes and monitors standards for GETC in South Africa. Refer to This is in line with the National Qualifications Framework Act no 67 of 2008 as amended. Refer to It also exercises its duties in relation to the General and Further Education and Training Quality Assurance Act No 58 of 2001 as amended. Refer to,assessment%3B%20to%20provide%20for%20the.

Adult basic training for workers


Adult basic training for cleaners is for any workers who have not completed basic education. They, therefore, do not possess basic education skills. 

The contract cleaning industry is a significant employer of these workers. By the middle of 2013, 2 967 000 South Africans were employed as cleaners. The majority of these employees are contracted black women who have families. Therefore, the industry plays a critical role in job creation in the country. By providing quality training for staff development, the industry can also help alleviate high illiteracy in the country. In 2021, about 4-million adults were functionally illiterate. Refer to This is a burden that government cannot shoulder alone with the severe limitations of its adult education programmes. 

Considering low barriers to entry, many players have entered the industry. However, this does not mean that they all train their employees as the larger and more established players do. Many individuals employed in this industry are deprived adult education programmes. Their career development is severely limited as a consequence. 

The Equality and Human Eights Commission has highlighted the plight of the many women who work in the industry. It describes them as the “invisible workforce” as they are unappreciated and unnoticed. Therefore, they are generally poorly paid. They are also seldom rewarded for work that they perform during awkward hours. 

Adult basic training sidelined

Adult basic training is often sidelined in this industry. Unfortunately, many companies prioritise developing the skills of their knowledge workers and not the individuals who actually perform the work.

Education development for employees in this sector starts with quality English and maths training by an accredited training provider. Such an ABET provider has experience supplying AET training to industries that employ unskilled and low-skilled employees. These AET training efforts are also geared at upskilling the workforce in anticipation of evolving changes. Many of these are relevant to the contract cleaning industry. For example, the sector is also preparing to undergo the Fourth Industrial Revolution. This relies on workers with basic education skills and “soft skills”. It is also under pressure to create safer and healthier employment conditions and provide services that are more environmentally friendly. These are impossible tasks if employees can barely read and write or do basic calculations. Education development for employees has never been more important.

Adult basic training programs

Employees who pass adult basic training programmes are deemed competent in specific learning areas. They have achieved 40% in the summative and formative assessment components established in the GETC National Assessment Guidelines. Refer to GETC-ABET Level 4 Examination Guidelines (

ABET provides a quick and efficient way for adults to learn basic education skills. AET training level 1 covers the skills taught from Grade 1 to 3 at school. Therefore, employees learn how to read and write, as well as to calculate during this early stage of ABET. ABET training level 2 covers the curricula taught during Grades 4 to 5. Thus, employees further develop their reading and writing, as well as basic numbers skills. During AET training level 3, employees obtain the baseline knowledge of GETC learning areas. This level of upskill training for unskilled employees covers Grades 6 to 7. It improves reading and writing, as well as basic numeracy skills, with AET level 4 covering Grades 8 to 9.

Employees who have completed adult education and training hold a qualification that is equivalent to a GETC Hygiene and Cleaning. It develops the foundational, practical and reflexive competencies required for a career in the hygiene and cleaning services industry. Refer to SAQA.

Employees who have completed adult education programmes at this level can enrol for other industry courses. These are offered by the Services Sector Education and Training Authority []. This includes a National Certificate in Specialist Hygiene and Cleaning Services at a NQF Level 2 and 3. Refer to SAQA

However, some employees may prefer to rather complete Matric after English and maths training. A National Senior Certificate is at a NQF Level 4 [].

Adult basic training teaches communication

Importantly, adult basic training for cleaners teaches the needed communication skills. These are the most important basic education skills needed to perform cleaning jobs well. Contract cleaning staff need to be able to articulate their thoughts verbally and in writing. They must also have an ability to read for meaning and listen actively. This is so that they can understand instructions from higher-ups. Many cleaners also work as a team. Therefore, they should be able to communicate effectively within a group and resolve conflicts when they arise. In order to complete tasks according to expectation, employees must also have the confidence to ask questions and clarify instructions. When working in residences or offices, cleaners will also use their communication skills to interact positively with occupants of buildings. They need to be friendly, professional and accommodating all the time to help you to build a good company reputation. 

Language, literacy and communication are one of the fundamental learning areas of adult education programmes. This skills are an essential of Adult basic training for cleaners. Fundamental learning forms the basis required to undertake further learning to obtain a qualification. Refer to South African Qualifications Authority Act 58 of 1995 (

Effective adult basic training


An effective adult basic training programme always focuses on six basic components of adult literacy training. 

Basic education for employees will teach phonemic awareness. This is the ability to hear that a spoken word consists of a series of discrete sounds. Phonemic awareness is important for any language that has an alphabetic writing system. This aspect of adult basic education and training facilitates greater printed word recognition. It also teaches employees how to identify, understand and manipulate sounds in spoken words. 

Phonemic awareness is the basis of phonics instruction, another important focus area of ABET training. Phonics instruction teaches employees that specific sounds belong to certain letters and letter patterns. Employees learn to recognize and associate the sounds of the letters and letter patterns in words that they read. This aspect of literacy training teaches how to decode words by recognising the sounds that accompany letters and letter patterns. It increases fluency by helping employees to read more accurately and with ease. Moreover, it helps with reading comprehension. When a word is pronounced correctly, it improves understanding of its meaning. This component of basic education for employees also improves everyday vocabulary. If employees feel comfortable in the correctness of words that they are pronouncing, they will use them more often.

Adult basic training improves vocabulary

The adult literacy component of any effective adult basic training program for cleaners also improves the vocabulary of employees.

Vocabulary is knowledge of words and their meanings. Employees who understand words can acquire and convey meaning. Vocabulary is an important component of basic education for employees because it also facilitates reading and writing. A skilled and experienced adult education provider will also include standard work terminology in its training. This also ensures that onsite-based training for employees is relevant. Cleaning staff are expected to know what “dilution”; “green services”; and “disinfecting” mean. These are part of the basic essential skills in Adult basic training for cleaners.

Fluency is another important component of education development for employees. It is the ability to effortlessly read, speak and write correctly. Fluency in reading includes consistent speed, accuracy and the use of expression. It is directly connected to comprehension. Once fluency is achieved in later AET training levels, employees can start focusing on the meaning of what they read. 

Successful education development for employees includes providing ample practice in reading and writing comprehension. This basic education skill is important to success in academic and personal learning. 

Writing is another critical part of any adult literacy training program. For employees in the early stages of ABET, writing helps to reinforce phonemic awareness. Meanwhile, it assists employees in higher ABET levels to understand the types of text styles that they read. Writing also helps employees to develop their comprehension skills.

Adult basic training teaches maths

Adult basic training for cleaners also teaches rudimentary maths. This is another fundamental learning area of education development for employees. Cleaning staff need basic numbers skills. They use basic numeracy skills together with other proficiencies skills to think outside the box and to problem solve. Contract cleaners encounter challenges on a daily basis. If their workflow is interrupted when faced with adversity, productivity will decline, and deadlines will be missed. Therefore, cleaners need to be able to think on their feet. 

Employees also use their literacy and numeracy skills to work accurately. In this way, they provide a high standard of service. Precise work entails using cleaning chemicals safely by being able to read product instructions and measure correctly. The incorrect use of cleaning chemicals can result in damage, accidents and injuries. 

For example, cleaning staff mix an array of chemicals every day as part of their jobs. This includes natural detergents which have to be diluted with water for different surfaces. These include tiles, walls, baths, basins, shower frames and floors.

Employees use basic numbers skills to determine the correct quantity of acid detergents for applications. Extreme caution must be exercised when using these products as they can harm the skin and property.

If used incorrectly, acid detergents can also damage property. These hard-surface cleaners are used in specialised applications, such as stripping polish from a floor.

Cleaning staff are also required to work with abrasive cleaners, which come in liquid, powder or paste form. When used incorrectly, they can damage surfaces that are easily scratched. This includes acrylic, fibreglass, marble, plastic and wood.

An adult basic training leader

Triple E Training is an adult basic training leader. We have earned an enviable reputation for establishing the benchmark in English and maths training for employees. 
Ask us for proof of scope for an ABET training level 4 qualification. Learn more about the delivery of our upskill training for unskilled employees and how this fits into your company. Importantly, find out more about our adult education and training delivery methods, which are both engaging and interactive. Also ask us to show you our high-quality education and training materials. You are also more than welcome to request CVs of and one-on-one meetings with our skilled and experienced AET facilitators. Yes, we are also a proud work-based learning provider. We come to your premises – no matter how remote your location. As such, we transform your workplaces into the best classrooms to learn basic education skills.

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Unlock the Full Potential of Your Employees. Leave your details & our team get back to you.

Note: Please be assured that all personal data submitted is handled with the utmost confidentiality & will only be used for the purpose of addressing your inquiries.