‘Competence interviews’ for grandfather rights CPCS card holders

20 November 2019 | By CM staff

Plant operators who face losing their blue ‘competent operator’ Construction Plant Competence Scheme (CPCS) cards will be able to hold onto them if they undergo a £160 ‘competence interview’, under new plans approved last month.

CPCS is required to phase out cards gained through ‘grandfather rights’ from 1 January 2020 and remove them completely by 31 December 2024.

The requirement has been set out by the Construction Leadership Council (CLC), which has said that the minimum standard for skilled operators is a Level 2 Vocational Qualification (VQ) relevant to their occupation.

The requirement stretches across the whole construction industry and every registered card scheme.

The grandfather rights in the past allowed workers to gain a CPCS blue card based on their industry knowledge and an employer’s recommendation rather than achieving a recognised qualification, but the route was closed to new applicants in 2003 when a Level 2 vocational qualification relevant to the categories held was required. Those who already had a blue card under grandfather rights were allowed to renew under the new rules.

However, since the CLC’s latest requirement, those who held blue CPCS cards under grandfather rights faced having to meet the training requirements by 31 December 2024.

Now CPCS owner NOCN has secured an agreement with the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) that will allow grandfather rights card holders to undertake a single ‘competence interview’ by 31 December 2024, rather than obtaining qualifications for each family grouping they hold on their blue competent operator card. In the meantime, they can still be issued with a blue card with a fixed expiry date of 31 December 2024.

NOCN said it could offer the interview because as a construction NVQ awarding organisation, it could quality assure it to be at the same level as expected of a regular qualification.

The NOCN competence interview will cover the following areas:

CPCS management committee chair Trevor Gamble said: “The CPCS management committee have been working with the CPCS team to comply with the CLC directive with regard to operator qualifications and to ensure the 2025 compliance directive is complied with.

“The current blue cardholders’ status will be unchanged up to and including 2024. CPCS is currently working with industry to ensure that those blue card holders not holding a NVQ/SVQ at level 2 will be supported to ensure their current status will be retained.”

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Surely this move by NOCN a private company that now owns and runs the CPCS scheme, flies in the face of what the scheme is supposed to promote "A fully qualified workforce".
CPCS operators have had over 13 years to become qualified and have until 2024 to do so. If trades, occupational work supervisors, managers etc are required to prove their competency, consistency and knowledge through the undertaking of nationally recognised NVQ assessments, not through Grandfather Rights; why would Plant Operators be treated differently?
Does this smack of a private company being an Awarding Organisation/Body or not twisting the ethos of the scheme and what the industry wants and needs? For its own gain?
Not sure but seems wholly unfair and simply not right if we want a trained, qualified, verifiable and SAFE workforce.

Simon Nicholls , 21 November 2019

It is good to see some sense. What has been forgotten is that after 5 years of holding the grandfather rights card. We then had to sit a industry set test proving our ability in the work place. Just because some people do not hold the VQ does not mean they are not competent I have been operating plant for over 40 years DOES THIS MEAN THAT I AM SOME HOW SUB STANDARD TO SOMEONE WHO HAS ONLY OPERATED 2 YEARS AND HOLDS A PIECE OF PAPER THAT SAYS LEVEL 2. We are struggling at present to recruit good operators, at least this concession will keep the operators we have within the industry. THANKS

Robert Russell , 24 November 2019

Nvqs were supposed to be issued to people to reflect the knowledge and experience they have. Vocational qualification?
Instead experienced operators are treated like novices because they’ve not done a particular organisations classroom work on safety or been observed by an instructor who probably has no experience of the operators machinery or job. Money making scheme once again. We are sick of this.

Liam Stewart, 26 November 2019

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