CITB CSCS Card Scheme: Is It Good or Bad?

03/02/2020

The CSCS cards have long been a little controversial in the construction industry. Some feel they are an extra expense and waste of money, others believe they provide a quick and easy way for site managers to ensure that workers who are being hired to do a job are properly qualified.

Here we take a closer look at the scheme, what it tries to achieve and the potential pitfalls of being a card-carrying member.

What is the CSCS Scheme?

The Construction Skills and Certification Scheme or CSCS was introduced so that workers could easily demonstrate they have the necessary skills to do the job. For example, if a site manager is looking for a plumber, your CSCS card demonstrates that you have the relevant qualifications and will be safe working on the project.

The building industry is unique in that it more often than not employs third party contractors and individuals to carry out work on demand. The big issue in the past was ensuring that the person was appropriately qualified and safe to work. 

Who Does It Apply To?

There are thought to be around 2 million cardholders across the UK from managers and site inspectors to skilled labourers. There are different cards for different jobs in the construction industry. The skilled worker card, for example, requires you to demonstrate that you have least a NVQ or SVQ at Level 2 in a construction-related area.

You’ll also need at least one of these qualifications:

  • Level 1 Health and Safety in a Construction Environment.
  • Site Safety Plus Health and Safety Awareness Course certificate.

Is It a Legal Requirement?

No. It’s not a legal requirement and it is up to the contractor whether they stipulate that workers need to be card-carrying members of the CSCS scheme. You will find that most major projects, however, do look for CSCS cards.

The Pros and Cons of Joining a CSCS Card Scheme

The big benefit of the CSCS card scheme is that it provides contracting businesses a lot more certainty over whether people have the appropriate skills and health and safety training. That should keep building sites more efficient and safer. Each year, the CITB administers 400,000 applications for cards.

For those who work on construction sites, the card undoubtedly provides an easy way to demonstrate their skills to employers.

Individual workers themselves, however, point to the cost of getting a CSCS card and the regularity with which it has to be renewed. There has also been a problem over the years with counterfeit CSCS cards and complaints that the CITBs systems are not robust enough.

Before 2010, skilled workers could get a CSCS card on the basis of a recommendation from their employers rather than a qualification. While this came to an end, those with existing cards were allowed to still hold their certification. This is due to come to an end too at the end of 2024, however, which will leave many skilled workers now having to apply a for a new card and get the qualifications to meet the requirements.

CITB have also announced that their administration of the scheme is due to come an end and CSCS will need to find a new supplier. What impact this has on the scheme remains to be seen.

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