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From the organisers of

A qualified workforce : The BBC and CSCS

10 December 2015
Mark Priestman talks about training.

Mark Priestman has more than 20 years’ experience in the natural stone sector. He plays an active role in the development and delivery of training in this specialist environment. Along with his father, David Priestman, he runs a training consultancy whose mantra is: Qualify the Workforce!

Like me, you no doubt choked at dinnertime as the BBC cried ‘scandal’ in connection with CSCS cards. You probably cringed when you saw the secret video recordings of serious training malpractice.

As shocking as this is – and it is highly shocking – there is a need for balance.


Well, because there is a grave danger of ‘throwing baby out with the bath water’. A card scheme is needed to measure and record a person’s qualifications in an industry that kills and injures more workers each year than any other.

After all, there are people counterfeiting documents, identities and bank notes but we do not suggest ending the use of passports, driving licences and money. Instead we place an expectation on the authorities to bring to task the criminals and make fraudulent practice harder in the future.

After speaking with CSCS’s Communications Chief, Alan O’Neile, I was reassured to hear that CSCS and CITB are robustly investigating these matters and will put into place enhanced checks and balances. CSCS is confident that the vast majority of cards are issued on the back of genuine qualifications.

CSCS is not the awarding body for these qualifications, nor is it the regulator. It simply issues cards based on pass certification presented to it.

I was further reassured by CSCS’s statement that: “In relation to the training providers identified in the programme (WEP and Training 4 Jobs), both CITB and the British Safety Council have withdrawn accreditation to deliver qualifications together with the Health, Safety & Environmental Test with immediate effect and where a qualification has been obtained fraudulently we will take immediate steps to cancel the related CSCS card.”

Moving on. The Specialist Apprenticeship Programme (SAP) in Façade Preservation.

We enjoyed what felt like the last two sunny days of the year with StoneTrain’s learners who are enrolled on this SAP.

Our host was Stone Restoration Services, which put its yard in Ongar at our disposal.

The learners were shown the skills of using high pressure water jetting equipment, abrasive pots and the ‘plastic’ repair of stone using mortar mixes. They all had a go and did extremely well.

On the current StoneTrain SAP is Tom Hall from Lyons Stonemasonry, Liam Derrick and Ross Warry from Szerelmey, Mat Kowalczyk and Stefan Toth from Triton, Daniel Floyd and Jonathan Fogarty from Lambert Walker, Alex Turner from Stone Restoration Services and Sam Baldwin, Eamonn Goggin, Erik Gol and Rob Modzelewski from Rosewood. They are all progressing well through the offsite training modules of this industry-approved scheme and will additionally undertake Level 2 NVQ assessment.

A full employer review of this SAP has recently been completed to ensure it exactly reflects the stone sector’s needs.

There will be a new intake of trainees soon. Perhaps this is something you would like to consider for your employees, who can be mentored in your workplace either as façade cleaners or restorers. They can be any age (16-63) and you have to be a CITB registered company – even if you are not a Levy-payer.

For details, contact StoneTrain via the Manager, Ian Major, at: [email protected]

The programme includes just 20 days offsite training over a two year period, which minimises the time employees will be away from their usual employment.

StoneTrain charges just £5,997.50 per person for the two-year programme, but CITB-registered firms receive a grant (subject to terms and conditions) of at least £7,650, rising to a potential £9,333.

Mark Priestman is a Partner at Priestman Associates LLP, a leading façade preservation project consultancy. From stonemasonry and heritage skills through to Site Supervision and Conservation Management, the partnership is trusted by the leading brands of the sector as an NVQ provider for experienced, upskiller and apprentice workers. Mobile: 07876 687212.

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