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A qualified workforce : CSCS cards

17 September 2015
Mark Priestman.

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!

In qualifying the workforce in the construction industry one specific driver affects us more than we may realise. It is known as Construction 2025: The Industrial Strategy.

A principle dictate of the strategy is that one skills card scheme will be identified and promoted in the sector. In a letter dated 7 January 2015, Tony Burton, Co-Chair of the Strategic Forum for Construction and a member of the Construction Leadership Council writes: “At its meeting on 25 November 2014 the CLC considered proposals relating to this action and agreed that from January 2015 the industry, including trade associations, contractors, clients and government, should specify and promote card schemes carrying the CSCS logo with no equivalents accepted.”

Page 2 of the same letter under section 1c adds: “The minimum requirement for skilled occupations is a NVQ Level 2 qualification relevant to the occupation plus a separate health & safety element.”

And in section 1e we also read: “A transition process to bring all existing cardholders up to the minimum standard by 2020 will be agreed and implemented.”

So while 2025 seems like a lifetime away (but let’s hope it’s not) 2020 is basically the period between now and the furthest renewals of an existing CSCS card.

So what are the best guestimates for the consequences of these changes?

Profiled route to a CSCS card

Whispers suggest strongly that within 12 months the profiled route, which is basically an endorsed route rather than a qualification based route to a gold or black CSCS card, will be scrapped.

That means supervisors and managers wishing to get their appropriate card will need to achieve the relevant NVQ first.

Industry accredited route to a CSCS card

This is the route also known as ‘grandfather rights’. Realistically, if the above stated standard needs to be implemented before 2020, grandfather rights will become a thing of the past. So will the renewal of cards previously issued as a grandfather right. Again, NVQs, or an NVQ-bridging-style qualification, will be needed in order to obtain the correct card for the job.

Construction related occupations route to a CSCS card

Currently, 600 occupations can apply for the card via this route. But this is under review and it is extremely likely that any occupation that has an NVQ available will lose the right to apply for a card via the construction related occupations route since this route cannot confirm competence, whereas the NVQ can.

For an experienced worker, achieving the NVQ at the appropriate level for the job they perform in the correct occupational discipline need not be arduous. NVQ assessment is really about providing evidence that a candidate’s knowledge and performance compares favourably with nationally established standards.

For most in the industry who have simply never got round to getting their NVQ and a Skilled Worker CSCS card, it should be straight-forward enough to achieve with onsite assessment at a modest price.

My recommendation is to get it done now, rather than leave it until the eleventh hour.

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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