The recognition of the CIOB qualifications by the CSCS site workers’ skills card scheme moved a step closer this week as the scheme’s two operators announced they had patched up their differences and were brokering a new contract.
The card scheme is expected to impose tougher checks on operatives and recognise a wider range of applicant qualifications following the rapprochement between the scheme’s owner, Construction Skills Certification Scheme and administrator, CITB-ConstructionSkills.
The future of the scheme, which is used by 1.6 million workers, was in doubt last year, when CITB issued a termination notice to CSCS. But now plans are being made to introduce more stringent checks on applicants for site operative Green Cards, which can currently be obtained without any form of qualification.
“It became clear from the sheer number of card holders in the scheme that cards were often being signed off by employers as passports to get workers on site rather than to gauge their competence,” said a spokeswoman for CSCS. “We’re currently looking at a more stringent process, details of which have yet to be revealed, which will be consulted on with industry.”
The organisations are also looking to streamline the application process, perhaps moving it online, and accepting a wider range of qualifications for cards intended for skilled workers and professionals. For example, to gain a Black SCSC card for a manager currently requires achievement of NVQ/SVQ levels 4, 5, (or QCF Level 6 or 7) in the relevant occupation, but in future HND and HNC qualifications or degrees may be accepted, said the CSCS spokeswoman: “CIOB members might not want to retrain to gain an NVQ so this should make things much simpler.”
Smart card technology may also be incorporated to enable CSCS cards to capture information on workers, provide access to work databases, and swipe workers into sites. “Access control systems currently require separate cards, which creates an unnecessary admin burden, we are currently trialling CSCS cards embedded with the technology at the Tottenham Court Road station upgrade project,” said the spokeswoman.
These positive developments come after a tumultuous year for CSCS, during which construction employers forced its previous chairman Trevor Walker to resign after a prolonged dispute over the future direction of the scheme.