Last week’s CEDA Technical Forum, part of the association’s annual conference at the Majestic Hotel in Harrogate, detailed how the trade body helped to clear the fog that surrounds CSCS cards.
The background to the situation was that the Construction Leadership Council (CLC) decided to change CSCS scheme from a health and safety (H&S) accreditation to one of both H&S and Skills (2016). This led to the withdrawal of CRO (construction related occupations) cards in 2017.
CEDA technical support advisor Peter Kay told delegates: “It was a very confusing situation with much misleading and incorrect information published by CSCS.”
Therefore the association taking an initial twin track approach by reviewing NVQs and identifying deadlines for ‘get out of jail’ cards to buy 5 years’ grace. Kay detailed: “There was much confusion about whether the installation of commercial catering equipment was a construction or non-construction related occupation.
“At one point, the CSCS website listed ‘commercial catering equipment installation’ as a non-construction related occupation which meant that CSCS cards would not be necessary, but engineers would have to sit through a H&S induction (which they do anyway irrespective as to whether they have a CSCS card).
“When we investigated this we were told that this had been done as a temporary measure because ‘commercial kitchen equipment installation’ was a CRO and there was an NVQ for installers. Upon investigation we discovered that the NVQ was for ‘fitted interiors’ which was basically domestic kitchen cabinets and bathrooms and the skills and knowledge were totally irrelevant to our industry.”
With help from Construction Industry Training Board, CEDA developed a new NVQ to suit its members’ needs, however, this then had to be taken up by an awarding body to develop it into a qualification and then be taken up by assessment bodies to actually carry out the assessment of engineers. The association did find one awarding body which expressed interest, however, Kay reported they lost interest because of the pandemic.
He continued: “After more discussions with CSCS we were told that ‘commercial catering equipment installation’ was in fact now classified as a plumbing related occupation (PRO) and we had to get CSCS cards through the JIB-PMES (Joint Industry Board for Plumbing and Mechanical Engineering Services). Inevitably, the CLC insisted that JIB-PMES adopt the NVQ requirements but we found that this body was still issuing CSCS PRO cards after the deadlines used by CSCS, so we encouraged members to get cards for their engineers and project managers to ‘buy’ 5 years.”
For a longer term solution, Kay revealed: “It was obvious that we would have to do something to enable members to work on construction sites once their current CSCS cards expired and as our attempt to develop and deliver an NVQ had come to nothing.
“We spoke to CSCS to once again try to get the installation of commercial catering equipment treated as a non-CRO, however, they would not entertain this. Apparently the definition of a CRO includes any work to the fabric of a building so the fact that our work involved drilling walls to fit shelves etc. meant that it was construction related.
“After much discussion about the fact that there were no suitable NVQs for our industry and that awarding bodies were not willing to develop the one that we produced, CSCS agreed that they would accept industry training standards as an alternative to NVQs. As there were no standards, we agreed to develop these.”
Therefore CEDA introduced three training standards covering: installation engineer (without gas ACS accreditations) – engineers with gas ACS accreditations can get a gas operative CSCS card from JIB-PMES; project coordinator – suitable for those with limited technical knowledge who depend on colleagues, both within their company and suppliers, for technical information to relay to the main contractor and others; and project manager – suitable for those with a good technical knowledge and experience who were also knowledgeable about contractual procedures.
Satisfactory completion of one of these standards will generate a certificate which will be accepted by JIB-PMES for the issue of a CSCS card.
Kay concluded: “The standards are relatively easy to complete being based mainly on modules from the CEDA eLearning platform.
“We already have our first project coordinator certificate issued and the recipient has got his manager’s card. I know of several others who are working their way through the standard. I have not yet heard of any engineers working their way through the standard, however, it is possible that most engineers took advantage of the ‘get out of jail’ cards, however, it is never too soon to start completing some of the modules.
“At present there is no need or indeed no plan for ongoing assessment of those who complete the training standards such as some form of reassessment every 5 years as with gas ACS accreditations, however, from a recent conversation with the joint industry board for Electrotechnical Certification Scheme it is possible that CSCS may require this at some stage in the future.”