CSCS plans to scrap 13 colour-cards in favour of single individual universal card

The plan was announced in the CSCS’s Annual Review 2014, which says that the new system could be implemented as soon as 2016.

A spokeswoman for CSCS told CM that the board was championing the idea as its preferred option to make the scheme simpler to administer and understand, but that it would take on board the feedback of the industry.

“It’s a strategy for consultation, but if it’s not what the industry wants it won’t happen. We’re currently talking to various stakeholder groups about the issues,” she said.

“But it should remove the frustration of people feeling they have the ‘wrong’ card. Employers would have to ask for the appropriate qualifications instead – it’s not about the colour of the card.”

If the decision is made to adopt the new policy from 2016, she pointed out that all existing cards would still be valid for up to five years.

But industry trainer Gary Pollard of CAD UK had mixed views on the proposed change. He said that the move would complicate matters on site, and feels that a single card would bring more benefits to the CSCS management and major employers than the massed ranks of the industry’s self-employed.

He told CM: “People see a Gold card and take it as read that the individual has the relevant skills, they don’t look up the qualifications unless something goes wrong. At the moment, it’s a relatively transparent  system – people just get used to it, and then they change it. And will smaller employers and subcontractors have the technology to read the smart chips?”

However, he also supported the argument that the change to a universal card would encourage employers to focus on qualifications. "I agree that the employers should be looking beyond the colour of the card, although sometimes the colour of the card helps with transparency on site. If they feel changing the scheme would encourage people to ask for qualifications then I support that." 

Elsewhere in the CSCS Annual Review, it is revealed that 1.9 million cards are in circulation, and that 11,000 individuals have taken the new level one qualification in “health and safety in a construction environment”, allowing them to access the new Labourer card. 

The new card was brought in to replace the Green card, currently held by 700,000 individuals. (Although withdrawn for new applicants from 1 July, green cards currently in circulation will remain valid for five years after their issue date). 

The spokeswoman said that CSCS was pleased with the uptake of the new card and qualification so far, pointing out that the new scheme had only been in operation for six months.

In other CSCS news, the November meeting of the Construction Leadership Council discussed plans to bring more industry card schemes into a formal affiliation with CSCS.

Card schemes that meet the minimum standard for skilled occupations of S/NVQ Level 2 will be able to apply to carry the CSCS logo. Schemes are also required to commit to using smart technology within the next five years.

The industry schemes that currently carry the CSCS logo are: ACE, CCDO, CISRS, CPCS, CSCS, CSR, ECS, EUSR, SkillCard and UK-PHMES.

Chief construction adviser Peter Hansford told CM: “The Industrial Strategy made a commitment to simplify the cards schemes, and we started with the idea that we would simplify it to one card scheme, but that’s impractical.

“It’s a bit like credit cards – they may have different branding from the banks, but most carry the Visa logo and use the Visa system. So CSCS will be the equivalent of Visa, providing a common standard, and giving employers big confidence that there is an accredited level of competence.”

Source: Construction Manager

Post date: 30 Jan 2015

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