Does the stone industry need a qualification for the fixing of stone interiors (worktops, floors, wet rooms)? That’s a question the industry’s Training Group is putting to you.
The Natural Stone Industry Training Group (NSITG), the body of trainers and stone companies that meets under the auspices of the CITB to lead training in the stone industry, wants you to let CITBâ€ˆknow if the industry needs a separate Stone Fixer qualification for interiors – floors, worktops, shower walls and similar.
If you think it does, the Training Group would like you to go to the ‘have your say’ section of the CITB website (bit.ly/1jk6Qqq) and fill in the form to say so.
The NSITGâ€ˆdecided at its meeting last month (13 May) to test the water by illiciting comments before making any changes to the existing Stone Fixer qualification, which is focused on fixing cladding.
The discussion began at a specially convened meeting of the NSITG in April, when there was a thorough review of all the qualifications and courses currently on offer to the industry.
In particular, it was felt the NVQ Level 2 Stone Fixer had not evolved in line with developments in the industry. Specifically, it was felt there is a need to differentiate between stone fixing for interiors (kitchens, bathrooms, wet rooms, flooring, walling) and exteriors.
The existing qualification pays little attention to fixing stone on interiors and therefore additional units are needed to permit a Stone Fixer (Interior) option within the qualification.
Then the existing Level 2 Stone Fixer (exterior) units need to be combined with the current NVQ Level 2 Stone Cladding units in a way that allows flexibility, so learners can choose the units, or parts of units, that suit them best.
The NSITG is talking to CSkills Awards, the NVQ awarding body, about the changes. But before the qualification is amended, the Group wants to be sure there is sufficient interest from the industry, which is why anyone interested is being asked to use the CITB ‘have your say’ page on its website.
There is a form there to fill in to comment about qualifications. Use the drop-down menu at the start of the form to choose ‘Stonemasonry’ in answer to the first question that asks ‘The occupation that relates to your comments’.
You will also need to know what the qualification level, title and route is. It is Level 2 (L2) NVQ Diploma in Stonemasonry (Construction) – Stone Fixing. The Standard Number or Route Number is: QUF817.
Once you have entered that, you are able to describe your concerns / support for the proposed changes in a text box.
If industry supports the NSITG and it is successful in making the changes, a Level 3 Stone Fixer qualification will follow, as will the Specialist Apprentice Programmes (SAPs) that deliver associated training.
The NSITG is also still considering how to establish training in design and detailing. It is felt the industry needs recognition for those who can produce detailed designs for stonework from architects’ drawings and a lot of work has been carried out on preparing such a course by members of the NSITG, yet the industry’s response to it has been muted.
At a previous meeting of the Training Group it had been decided that a pilot course needed to be held. A questionnaire had been compiled and posted online, but had been completed only four times, and two of those were by the same company.
Having established a Mason’s Mate qualification that the industry had said it wanted but which was withdrawn because there were no takers for it (and there is a cost associated with keeping it live) the NSITG is reluctant to go to the effort and expense of creating other qualifications if they are not taken up in sufficient quantities.
These are some of the ways the NSITG is co-ordinating and developing training in the sector. It provides a bridge between the industry and the training providers to make sure training remains relevant to needs.
The meeting last month was held at Moulton College in Northampton at the same time as the Southern heat of the Masonry Skills Challenge was taking place at the College. This enabled the NSITG members to visit the Moulton stonemasonry workshops and see the competitors at work (there is a short video at bit.ly/1w3q11j). The Masonry Skills Challenge is part of the selection process that leads eventually to the two yearly WorldSkills international competition that can be held anywhere in the World – the next is in São Paulo in 2015.
Those attending the latest meeting of the NSITG included representatives of Weymouth, Moulton, City of Bath and York Colleges as well as a cross section from the industry and representatives of CITB. Anyone from the industry who would like to be involved in the Training Group is always welcome. You can find out how to participate at www.nsitg.org.uk.
Changes to the CSCS Green Card
From 1 July the Green Construction Site Operative CSCS card will no longer be issued. There will be a new CSCS Green Card introduced that is for labourers only.
The change is being made because the role of CSCS is to provide a scheme for the construction industry that confirms site workers’ training and qualifications.
However, many site workers with skilled occupations have been applying for the Green Card because it is the easiest route to gaining access to construction sites.
But this makes it difficult for contractors to use CSCS cards as a reliable method of checking that site workers have the appropriate skills to work on construction sites safely and effectively.
The aim of the change is to encourage card holders and their employers to move on from the Green Card to the next level of training to improve the skills they have. The changes are clearly explained at www.cscs.uk.com/cscs-cards/green-card-changes.
Main contractors say they will require people on their sites to have the new cards.
For more information about training:
Natural Stone Industry Training Group
Tel: 07851 063938
National Heritage Training Group
Tel: 01342 326171
City of Bath College, Bath
Tel: 01225 312191
Building Crafts College, London
Tel: 0208 522 1705
City & Guilds of London Art School
Tel: 0207 735 2306
Edinburgh’s Telford College
Tel: 0131 559 4000
Elgin Stonemasonry Training Facility
Tel: 0131 221 6272
Glasgow Metropolitan College
Tel: 0141 566 6222
Moulton College, Northampton
Tel: 01604 491131
West Dean College
Tel: 01243 811301
Tel: 01305 764744
Tel: 01904 770400
Tel: 01904 430000
Crawshaws (floors and worktops)
Tel: 0208 686 7997
NAMM (memorial fixing)
Tel: 01788 542264
National Stone Centre
Tel: 01629 824833
The Orton Trust (weekend courses)
Tel: 01536 711600
Tel: 0115 975 1880
Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust
Scottish Lime Centre (lime mortars)
Tel: 01383 872722
Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings
Tel: 0207 377 1644
StoneTrain, c/o Stone Federation GB