24 October 2018

100% Qualified not 100% Carded

100% qualified not 100% carded, was the key message from Graham Wren, Chief Executive of CSCS, at the Build UK Member Skills Briefing on 17 October.

Graham outlined a number of changes to the card scheme that will lead to the upskilling of the workforce and improved standards on site.

These changes were made following the launch of the Industrial Strategy: Construction 2025 and the formation of the Construction Leadership Council (CLC).

At the beginning of 2015 the CLC announced that industry should only accept card schemes displaying the CSCS logo. To qualify for the logo, all cards schemes (including CSCS) have until 2020 to ensure cards are only issued to those who have achieved or are in the process of achieving a recognised construction related qualification. These ambitious goals were set out by the CLC in early 2015 when they published the “One Industry Logo” action.

As a result, CSCS stopped issuing the Construction Related Occupation card in 2017 and are in the process of withdrawing the Construction Site Visitor card. Neither of these cards require a qualification and as such they must be withdrawn.

Graham highlighted more changes are required in order to fulfil the CLC’s requirements. Over the coming months, the industry will discuss plans to manage the renewal of cards held by operatives who achieved them via Industry Accreditation or ‘Grandfather Rights’ and who do not hold a qualification.

There are now 35 cards schemes displaying the CSCS logo, all of which have made a commitment to meet the CLC’s requirements by 2020. This is a positive development that will lead to improved standards and safety as hundreds of thousands of construction workers obtain recognised qualifications.

Attendees were reminded that sites should not turn away those without a valid card, if they were attending to perform a non-construction role. These visitors should be properly inducted and escorted, if necessary and the Build UK Training Standard provides further information.

Fraud and Smart Technology

Pressure to obtain a qualification is making the card more attractive to those operating on the black market.

Gone are the days when all you had to do was sit the CITB HS&E test and apply for a card. It now takes a considerable commitment to obtain a card. It takes time and money to obtain a qualification and when things get harder to obtain, the fraudster steps in.

This takes two forms: the production of fake certificates to achieve a genuine CSCS card or purchasing a fake card.

To tackle the fake certificates, CSCS is working closely with Awarding Bodies to introduce electronic verification of certificates to ensure their validity, before awarding a card.

Fake cards and those that have been cancelled by CSCS as a result of suspected fraud, can be easily spotted by scanning the cards electronically. All CSCS cards are Smart – they contain a chip which stores information on the cardholder’s identity, qualifications and training. Site managers can read this information using a smartphone, tablet or PC with the GoSmart app installed, allowing them to instantly record the cardholder’s information, and be secure in the knowledge that the cardholder is qualified for the job they do on site.

However, fewer than 10% of sites are carrying out regular electronic checks. Contractors who do find cancelled or fake cards are advised to follow CSCS’s guidance.