If you are working on site you will need to have some kind of CSCS card or for electricians an ECS card. The electrical industry has had the dedicated ECS card scheme for many years now and the requirements of this scheme is that you should have a suitable set of qualification or be working towards them (see our blog post here) in order to get a card. However there is a CSCS card which is called a Construction Related Occupation (CRO) Card which is designed for construction workers who work in areas where there is no nationally recognised qualification.
However CSCS has seen huge increases in applications for this card and essentially believe that it is being used as a back door onto site for many who simply haven’t got the necessary qualifications. In fact they have issued over 300,000 CRO cards since 2005.
In July 2014 they launched the new Labourer card which is only issued if the applicant can show they are working towards a specific occupation. Despite 35,000 green labourer cards being issued CSCS have also seen a huge increase in the number of applicants for the CRO card. They believe this is simply because many applicants simply see it as a simple shortcut to avoid taking the necessary qualifications for their chosen skill.
Part of the reason that the CRO is issued is that the worker may have multiple skills which don’t fall into one category. However even in that situation workers will be asked to pick a single occupation which will be displayed on the card.
What happens on the 1st October 2015?
So from the 1st October 2015 a number of changes will come into to force:
All CRO cards issued from 1st October 2015 will expire on 30th September 2017 and are not renewable.
You will be expected to register for a nationally recognised construction related qualification before the card expires.
Only one occupation will be displayed on your CRO card from 1stOctober 2015.
CSCS will stop issuing CRO cards from 31st March 2017.
It is important to note that existing CRO cards issued before 1st October 2015 that expire after 30th September 2017 will remain valid until their expiry date.
So simply put this means that if you want to keep working on site you must pick a skill and at least register for a qualification and start working towards it. If you still haven’t registered for a construction related qualification by the 30th September 2017 you will be unable to renew your card and will be essentially unable to step foot on a building site.
This sounds quite drastic but realistically it make perfect sense. There is plenty of time for everyone already in the industry to start working towards a clear skill or trade that they can fully qualify in. This will in turn improve standards and safety on site in the long run.
How does this impact electricians?
For electricians these changes should have no impact whatsoever. That’s because the dedicated ECS scheme which is run by CSCS and the JIB has meant that since the year 2000 anyone working with electrics on site should already be qualified or working towards their fully qualified status in order to gain a card. If you know anyone working with electrics who owns a CRO card then they really shouldn’t be.
The real issue here seems to be that it will hit all those multi skilled “labourers” who may be a jack of all trades but a master of none. There are also numerous trades out there that do not have a nationally recognised qualification. In that situation applicants should probably call CSCS for advice as they have said work is already underway to develop new qualifications to fill this gap.
If you are unsure which qualifications you do need then simply use this handy online card finder tool.
Remember if you want to know more about ECS check out our previous blog post here.