Workers who choose not to pursue a national qualification to retain their CSCS card privileges should be subject to alternative competency checks, a trade body has said.
Employers must adopt a “rigorous system” to assess workers who formerly held a CSCS Industry Accredited (IA) card amid sweeping reform, the National Federation of Builders Major Contractors Group (NFB MCG) has urged.
It comes ahead of widespread changes to Construction Skills Certification Scheme renewal next year.
CSCS reform – in brief
From 30 June 2024, the CSCS will no longer renew IA cards. Further, cards issued from 1 January 2020 expire on 31 December 2024 and will also not be reissued. Workers who intend to renew their CSCS card must reapply in 2024 and acquire a National Vocational Qualification (NVQ/SNVQ) or equivalent competency.
The CSCS card is sanctioned by the Construction Leadership Council (CLC) to ensure competency across the industry. And while it is not a legal requirement, the credential is nonetheless requisite by most employers.
The reform, announced in 2019, effectively dispenses with workers being able to obtain CSCS cards on the strength of an employer’s recommendation, or so-called “grandfather rights”.
What the NFB MCG said
CSCS card holders, who wish to continue working in their current role, should acquire an NVQ, the NFB MCG has said.
However, should workers decide not to pursue the qualification and forfeit renewal of their IA card, industry should adopt the following measures to ensure competency on site:
- Establish a “clear and rigorous” system to assess the competency of a person who formerly held a CSCS IA card to fulfil their role.
- Ensure workers have a current, recognised Health & Safety (H&S) qualification at the appropriate level for their role, held on a digital document.
- ‘Correct cards for correct roles’ – the H&S requirements for various cards differ depending on the role.
- Verify workers’ professional, training, and H&S credentials, preferably via the CITB Construction Training Register (Site Safety Plus, NOCN qualifications, Construction Plant Competence Scheme, or any CITB approved training organisation).
- Issue workers a signed authorisation letter for their role to be kept on a digital file, stating their competence assessment and H&S training level, plus the letter expiration date.
“The NFB MCG recognises the widespread use, reputation and recognition of CSCS across the industry, as well as the importance of maintaining integrity in the CSCS card system,” said the NFB MCG.
“The NFB MCG reminds members that all workers must be competent to carry out their role and that competency is defined by the Health and Safety Executive as follows: ‘Competence can be described as the combination of training, skills, experience and knowledge that a person has and their ability to apply them to perform a task safely. Other factors, such as attitude and physical ability, can also affect someone’s competence’.”
Adding: “The NFB MCG recommends that where possible, holders of IA-backed CSCS cards who wish to continue to work in their current role, should pursue the relevant NVQ, ideally via the experienced worker route (which is far less onerous than returning to college) and seek CITB funding to support this change. This should be done as soon as possible before the withdrawal of industry accreditation.”
The CSCS has previously said workers required to undertake further training can do so via on-site independent assessments completed in the workplace or remotely – though paid for by employers.
It also said workers can approach the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) – an educational partner of the NFB – for a grant (specific supervision S/NVQs: £1,250; specific management S/NVQs: £1,500).
“Industry Accreditation allowed workers to obtain CSCS cards on the strength of an employer recommendation, rather than the achievement of a recognised qualification,” said the CSCS.
“CSCS announced the decision to withdraw the Industry Accreditation route to a CSCS card in 2019, in order to satisfy Construction Leadership Council requirements, which state that all construction industry card schemes must operate with nationally recognised qualifications in place for all occupations by the end of 2024.
“For many IA card holders there are straightforward routes off IA via existing qualifications they may already hold or through professional body memberships. Many will no longer require a CSCS card as they now work in a non-construction related role.
“Those who are required to undertake further training to gain a qualification will not need to attend college as there are various assessment methods available including professional discussions and on-site assessments, which are often completed in the workplace or remotely.”
Does my CSCS card still work? Construction Wave webinar with CSCS Head of Communications, Alan O’Neile.
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