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How to prepare for the changes to CSCS cards

The Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) has seen many changes in the last decade, and there are more still to come. The planned changes to CSCS cards will affect some of the scheme's longest standing members, who will need to re-apply for a card under the new rules.

If you think you might be affected by the changes, then read on to find out how you can prepare before your card expires.


What is a CSCS card, and why do you need one?

Anyone who wanted to access a construction site in the UK used to need a CSCS card. But when Graham Wren took over as Chief Executive of the scheme in 2012, he was keen to change this so that only people doing a construction-related job need a card.

The purpose of the card is to prove that the holder has the right qualifications for the job they are doing, and that they can work on site safely without putting themselves or anyone else at risk.

It's not a legal requirement to have a CSCS card, but most large contractors and housebuilders require their workers to have one.


What to expect from the changes to CSCS cards

The organisers behind the certification skills scheme want all cards to be issued on qualification, which has forced two major changes in the criteria you have to meet.

  1. Eradication of 'grandfather rights'
  2. Revised health and safety test

In this section, we'll look at these changes and what you can do to prepare for them.


Grandfather rights scrapped

Before 2010, you could apply for a card under what's known as grandfather rights or industry accreditation. What this meant in practice was that you could get a CSCS card without having any qualifications if your employer was willing to endorse your skills.

This route has been closed off to new applicants for a while now, leaving those who already had a card to keep renewing it every few years, but this is set to change.

The scheme organisers have announced that any cards issued under industry accreditation will expire on 24 December 2024, and they will stop issuing them from June 2024.

So, what does this mean for you?

If your card was issued to you under the old rules, then you'll need to re-apply. To do that you'll need proof that you're qualified up to an agreed standard to do your job, and this will differ depending on the card you're applying for.

To see if your qualification is accepted, use the card finder on the CSCS website.


Revised health and safety test

Before you can apply for a CSCS card, you must pass the CITB health, safety, and environment (HSE) course or an approved alternative.

After two years of industry-wide research, this course was updated in 2019 to reflect changes in construction. The course is offered at various levels, but you are only required to take the one that is relevant to your occupation.

You can find out which course you're required to take using the CSCS card finder tool, and you can join our email list to find out more about taking you HSE course with us.


What type of card should you be applying for?

The changes to CSCS cards have seen some types of cards discontinued, for example, the construction site operative card has been replaced by the labourer's green card.

In this section, we'll take a look at the different types of cards and how you can apply.


Labourer card

 This card is for people carrying out labouring duties and is valid for five years. Those applying must have passed the HSE test for operatives and hold a relevant qualification.


Temporary cards

Red CSCS cards are temporarily issued to those people who are still undergoing training and haven't yet qualified, such as an apprentice or trainee.


Skilled worker

This card is suitable for those who have a construction related NVQ or SVQ level 2, or have completed an apprenticeship, and passed the right level HSE test for their job.


Advanced cards

Gold cards are for workers who have moved up a level in their vocation, including those who meet the criteria for 'advanced craft' and those who are supervisors. You must be able to prove you have passed the relevant qualifications and the appropriate HSE test.


Manager card

 This card is for managers and technical occupations, and the holder must have the necessary qualifications, and pass the CITB 'managers and professionals' HSE test.


Qualified persons 

 These cards are for people who have completed a construction related degree (or equivalent), or they are a member of an approved CSCS professional body. You must be able to prove your qualification/membership and pass the appropriate CITB-HSE test.


How do you apply for a CSCS card?

Despite the changes to CSCS cards, it's still possible to apply online – as long as you can prove that you meet the selection criteria.

The organisation behind the scheme isn't a qualifying body, so if you need to take extra courses to meet the criteria, then you'll need to find a suitable training provider.

Likewise, the CSCS is not responsible for the CITB-approved HSE tests, and you must use a registered provider, such as us, who is authorised to deliver the course.

Shortly, we'll be announcing our health and safety courses, which covers the things you'll need before you can apply for your CSCS card. Join our mailing list and be the first to hear about this new course - just complete our enquiry form and type CSCS into the message field.


The changes to CSCS cards – key takeaway

The changes to CSCS cards are designed to raise standards in the industry by ensuring that the people working on UK construction sites have the right qualifications to do their job safely and effectively.

The loss of grandfather rights will affect anyone who had their card issued under the old industry accreditation rules, but the good news is there's still time to do something about it before your card expires.

Contact the team here at Majestic Site Management for help navigating the upcoming changes to CSCS cards or add your name to our mailing list for updates on the scheme and the courses we will provide (to do this simply complete the contact form and type 'CSCS' into the message field.)

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lee marsden majestic site managment
Lee Marsden MCIOB
Director at Majestic Site Management Ltd
As the managing director of Majestic Site Management. From humble beginnings as an army apprentice, Lee Marsden’s tenacious attitude and hard work paid off in 2019 when he established Majestic Site Management – a successful site management consultancy that continues to grow year-on-year.

With over 30 years’ experience in the construction industry, Lee offers more than just a helping hand to keep your project on track. Majestic Site Management also specialises in site compliance, and health and safety, with a long-list of credentials to prove it. Connect with Lee on LinkedIn >>
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