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A qualified workforce: The latest on training

8 August 2014
Let Mark Priestman guide you through your training needs.

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!

One day I’ll meet Lenny Henry at the breakfast buffet.

I am writing this month’s column from my hotel room. This particular hotel chain boasts consistency and as I sit here writing I can confirm I could be in any of the dozen or so locations I have stayed in recently. Helpfully, the key-fob confirms I am in Aberdeen – just in case I wake up in the night confused.

I feel a little miffed as the Heathrow I left was a beautiful sunny blue-sky type of day, whereas the Aberdeen I have landed in is windy and rainy. Never mind – just typical UK weather. At least it is picturesque here, with an architectural style that makes the most of the locally quarried natural stone.

This is the end of day one of a two-day training course I am attending at the Scottish Traditional Skills Centre at Fyvie Castle on the subject of ‘Surveying the Condition & Assessing the Conservation, Repair & Maintenance Requirements of Traditional Buildings’.

I can certainly recommend it. Not only is the training in a beautiful heritage setting, but the guest lecturer is Andrew Wright, who certainly knows his stuff and has an excellent training manner and love for the subject.

The course is aimed at planners, surveyors and architects and I’m delighted to see these professionals gaining understanding of the conservation of natural stone.

There is another course on Lime, which I am also interested in. If you’d like more details of these courses, you can contact STSC’s Deborah Stockley on 01888 511347 or take a look at

On a totally different subject, I wanted to highlight the need to keep on top of industry changes. I know this can be a full-time occupation but it is vital to keep well briefed if you want to maintain a healthy profile for pre-qualification questionnaires and stay on the right side of legislation.

Here are two developments you should know about.

Labourers – The green CSCS card requirement is changing

If your labourers, improvers and masons’ mates hold a CSCS green card for Construction Site Operatives that expires after

1 July, renewal of the card will be different this time. Don’t get caught out. You have two options.

Option 1: If the person is no longer a labourer but is, for example, working competently as a cleaner, restorer or fixer, they ought to apply for a card as an experienced worker, not as a labourer. As an experienced worker they need a level 2 NVQ.

Option 2: If they are still working as a labourer, they can apply for the new green Labourer card but there are new requirements:

a) Pass the Health & Safety in a Construction Environment level 1 qualification. This is a new qualification. Some training providers have been invited to apply to CSCS for equivalency status for their courses (my firm is applying).

b) Pass the CITB Operatives Health, Safety & Environment touchscreen test within two years of applying for a new card.

CDM Regulations – have you had your say?

If you are a contractor, it’s highly likely that the Construction (Design & Management) Regulations impact on you and your work. Consultation is under way to simplify these regulations. If you haven’t already done so, you should really have your say about what you think – and you only have until 6 June to do it. You can fill in a response form at:

Changes could include: Replacement of the CDM co-ordinator role with a principal designer role within the project team; the introduction of a duty on information, instruction, training and supervision to replace the duty to assess competence; the removal of the domestic client exemption and transfer of these limited duties to the contractor/designer.

If I can help with any of your training and qualification needs, I am just an email away.

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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