News & Views

Lost NVQ Certificates – What You Need To Know

Usually at this time of the month we start to get calls from people who’ve lost NVQ Certificates.

“Why so?”  you may ask, but the reason is pretty simple.  CSCS Cards expire at the end of each month, so people start thinking about getting a new one in about the middle of the month.

Lost NVQ Certificates - only comes to light when you most need them

“Where’s my !*%%*!! certificate?!”

That’s the time they find out the CSCS people need to see proof of their qualifications.  It’s always at least five years since they last needed the certificate and it appears some people aren’t that good at storing them safely.

(That’s without taking into account people who have moved house, left home, got divorced and a myriad other reasons.)

Result?  They can’t find them and the clock is ticking. So they call us.

There’s an added dynamic now – the CSCS need to see the proof of the NVQ in all cases, whereas until a relatively short time ago, they had that record available to them.

At the same time, the CSCS, the CITB and Awarding Bodies have become more concerned about fairly widespread fraudulent and fake documentation – so it’s hardly surprising they are tightening up on procedures.

They check the serial number on the certificate against their database to see if it is valid.

So the first time trades realise they can’t find their certificates is when they call the CSCS or go onto their website and discover they need to produce the certificate to get a new card.

Applying For A CSCS Card

To apply for a CSCS Card now, you’re best going online and setting up an account using the CSCS Online Portal.  Once you have done that, you can start your CSCS Card Application.

You will need:

  1. passport style photo of your head and shoulders against a white background
  2. Your CSCS Registration Number – which will be on your present card, or available from your training provider
  3. A scanned copy of your qualification certificate, or proof that you are registered to complete a recognised construction related qualification relevant to your occupation.
  4. A scanned copy of your pass certificate for the appropriate level of CITB Health, safety and environment (HSE) test, which must be within the last 2 years.
  5. A credit or debit card to pay the £36 application fee.

And it’s the third of these that causes all the problems – lost NVQ certificates become an issue only when you need them!

We’ve always kept a copy of our candidates’ NVQ certificates, so when people call us who have come to SuperSkills for their NVQ Assessment, in most cases we have been able to help them.  We’ve just looked in our records and presto – there it is.

However, even we have to archive or destroy those copies after a lapse of time.

The only option at that stage – or if the person got their Construction NVQ somewhere else – is for them to apply to the original Awarding Body for a Duplicate.  There will be a “search fee”.

But here’s a tip – if you know you got your qualification from City & Guilds and it was before 2005 – they are most unlikely to recover it.

You can call NOCN_CSkills Awards on 03009991177 option 1 then option 3.  Alternatively, go to their replacement certificate online form here
 
Call City and Guilds on 01924930800.  They also have a replacement certificate application form here.
 
If your qualification wasn’t for Construction trades, you may still want to look at NOCN as the awarding body, but you might want to include Pearson Qualifications (they also go under the name Edexcel).
Their phone number isn’t published on their website, but you can apply for a replacement certificate by following this link
And, just for completeness – and based on a call received over two years after this post was first written – there’s OCR – dealing with a very limited range of Non-Construction qualification NVQ’s, but a whole raft of academic qualifications.  They have contact details and an online form to get a replacement certificate on their Home Page
 
If you gained the qualification more than 10 years ago, they may not be able to issue you with a replacement but it’s worth a phone call to find out . 

However, if you really cannot locate your lost NVQ certificates, you may end up having to pay for another assessment.

Which is a pain.

So – whether you need to renew your CSCS Card this month, this year, or in five years time – make sure it’s safe!

And when you go home tonight, scan your NVQ and Health & Safety Test certificates and store the images somewhere.

Any PDF file will do – if you don’t have a desktop scanner, you will find there are loads of free telephone Apps that will enable you to scan documents.

Avoiding lost NVQ certificates is, after all, the best way to take the hassle out of renewing your CSCS Card.

If you do need to get assessed for your NVQ – and let’s hope not because you’ve lost your NVQ certificates – call us on 01845 527 445 or see all our NVQ Assessment programmes here.

It's at this time of the month people discover they can't find their NVQ Certificates. Here's what you can do to avoid or overcome the problem of lost NVQ certificates. Read More...

Need Your CSCS Test? – Don’t Just Google It!

We’ve previously written here about the need to book your CSCS test direct with the examination centres online.

You can do this on the CITB website.

DO NOT JUST GOOGLE “CSCS TESTS” – you will no doubt find at the top a load of “online booking” sites. These all charge a “booking fee” which is totally unnecessary and will make your test cost about £25 more than it should.

I spent a few minutes “Mystery Shopping” one of these sites with equally mysterious details this afternoon to show you what I mean. £41.00 CSCS Test Booking ScreenShotfor a £21.00 test. It’s disgraceful.

It’s little wonder people get frustrated with the CSCS scheme when people do this.

ALSO – if you need the NVQ to be able to get a Blue CSCS Card – you will NOT have to take the test if you have passed it within the last two years.

If you need to know more about the CSCS Cards or Tests, click here.

If you ever need FREE advice about cards or NVQ’s, go to  SuperSkills.co.uk or call us on 01845 527445.

So – NEVER Google to get your test – ALWAYS book direct.

If you need details of the NVQ training and assessment services we offer, Click Here

DO NOT JUST "GOOGLE" CSCS TESTS - you will no doubt find at the top a load of "online booking" sites. These all charge a "booking fee" which is totally unnecessary and will make your test cost about £15 more than it should. Scroll down to see what you should do. Read More...

Lockdown 2.0 – Getting Your NVQ & CSCS Card

It was inevitable really – after Covid cases rising for weeks and many areas in the country being placed under ever greater restrictions – the Prime Minister having to hold a press conference in which he has updated the nation about new measures to contain Covid-19.

I have never (I doubt any of us have) experienced such a period of uncertainty.  For life to change so quickly and our ability to do the things we had become used to being taken away almost without warning.

There is no doubt jobs and the economy will take another huge hit – and our hearts go out to everyone affected, whether by getting the virus, or not being able to work.  That particularly affects trades who have always worked in people’s houses, rather than on building sites.

Even though construction is an exempt category in general and there are protocols for getting work done in residential premises, lots of trades we speak to are finding people don’t want to have work done in their houses and their work is drying up.

SuperSkills Construction Training is in one of the exempted categories and is permitted to keep going during the “lockdown” period.

It follows that our assessments can go ahead as normal unless circumstances change.  In a world of bad news, this means that people who have always done “domestic” work, but who now find they need to get onto sites, but don’t have CSCS Cards, can get the NVQ they need quickly, simply and conveniently.

We are obviously taking the safety of our candidates and staff seriously – we have been doing assessments under Covid secure arrangements since we reopened in June – and remember that if you have symptoms of Coronavirus or have to self-isolate for any reason, you can change your assessment date and just let us know.

You will not lose your deposit in these circumstances.  We’ve always adopted a sympathetic approach when people’s arrangements need to change and we’ve no intention of changing now.

There is accommodation available in Thirsk, so if you need an overnight stay, we will do our best to get you fixed up.

You can always contact our office on 01845 527445 should you need any advice.

In the meantime, we trust you and yours remain well and sincerely hope you are not affected by this dreadful virus.

It was inevitable really – after Covid cases rising for weeks and many areas in the country being placed under ever greater restrictions – the Prime Minister having to hold a press conference in which he has updated the nation about new measures to contain Covid-19. I have never (I doubt any of us have) […] Read More...

How To Get A CSCS Card – All Your Questions Answered

How To Get A CSCS Card – All Your Questions Answered

CSCS Cards – The Colours, The Costs and What You Need To Do To Get Your CSCS Card Sorted Out

What does CSCS stand for and why do I need a card?

Details Held On A CSCS Card

Details Held On A CSCS Card

CSCS stands for “Construction Skills Certification Scheme“, originally created in 1995 to provide an easy means of ensuring all people working on building sites had a basic understanding of Health & Safety issues.

The card contains personal details of the holder and a photograph.  In addition, the holder’s CSCS Registration Number and designation of the card is on the front – with the trade for which the holder is qualified shown on the rear.

The construction sector found the scheme beneficial in that production of a card would signify the worker concerned was competent in general health and safety issues relevant to building sites and many employers started to adopt an “all carded” approach so they could be reassured as to the basic standards their staff could be expected to know.

Over the years, the CSCS has developed, partly to deliver enhanced benefits to employers and site agents – such as the addition of a “smart” chip so cards may be easily verified – and also to drive the construction sector’s migration to a fully qualified workforce.

In 2012, the basic Health & Safety test was enhanced to include environment issues and it is now called the “Health, Safety & Environment” test.  This was in response to the development of the “Considerate Construction” scheme and has broad reaching effects, preventing disturbance to wildlife, unnecessary noise and the risk of pollution of waterways and drains from work taking place nearby.

However, whilst the original scheme was also intended to signify the trade competencies of the holder, the vast majority of cards issued were either Green “Site Operative” or White “Construction Related Occupations” cards – which obviously did not reflect any specific trade skills.

Much of this was due to resistance on the part of the workforce, many of whom objected to having to “be tested for the job they’d been doing for years”.  Additionally, Site Agents under pressure to get work completed were often tempted to turn a blind eye to workers whom they knew could get the work required done.

Clearly, further rigour needed to be applied to the scheme.  The first step taken in 2014 was to withdraw and replace the Green “Site Operative” card, which was re-designated “Site Labourer” and which required the holder to undertake a Level 1 Health & Safety in a Construction Environment qualification.

Unsurprisingly, this caused people to seek out a card they could get easily and without the expense of qualifications and there was a rush to “Construction Related Occupations” cards, originally intended for people who were responsible for cleaning finished properties or similar non-trade tasks associated with building.

The CSCS and employers reacted swiftly – the “Construction Related Occupations” card was withdrawn in 2017.  At the same time, the “Visitor” card was also designated for withdrawal and will be out of use by August 2020.

What has been less noticed, but very welcome, has been the reduction in both injuries and in particular deaths on construction sites.  One death is too many, but in the latter 2000’s hundreds of people were being killed on construction sites every year, with many more seriously injured.

It is fair to say that since the COVID-19 pandemic emerged earlier this year, the number of employers/sites requiring the “right” card for a particular trade has increased substantially.

Can I get a CSCS Card without an NVQ?

CSCS Cards - Required to get on sites

Many Sites Are “Fully Carded”

The position now is that more and more sites are “fully Carded” and you need a CSCS Card to work on them.  Additionally, you won’t be able to undertake “trade” work without the appropriate card – usually a Blue “Skilled Worker” card.  To get the Blue CSCS Card, you will need a “nationally recognised construction related occupation” for that trade at Level 2.  Sometimes this is misinterpreted to mean the National Vocational Qualification, but that’s not the case – many other qualifications may be recognised and it is always worth checking with CSCS before spending more money.  See also our post on “How To Get Your NVQ“.

How do I get a CSCS Card?

If you have taken the CSCS Health, Safety & Environment test (often called the CSCS Skills Test or CSCS Touch Screen Test) within the past two years and you have the relevant qualification, all you need to do is go online and make your application here.

Where do I take the CSCS Touch Screen Test?

Whatever you do – don’t just “Google” it!  You’ll probably end up paying a booking fee.  Click here and you can book in online for £21.00.  There are test centres all over the country.  You will need to take in-date photo identification with you.

It’s a good idea to revise for the test and there is a free App to help you.  Download the Android Version here or the iPhone Version here.

If you have taken the CSCS Test in the last two years – you can get a new card without taking it again.

What CSCS Card do I need?

The easiest way of finding out is by going to the CSCS Card Finder (link opens a new window).  Generally, you will need either a “Site Labourer” Green Card or a Blue “Skilled Worker” Card.  However, there are Supervisor, Manager and Professionally Qualified Person cards – always check and you can’t go wrong.

What qualifications do I need to get a CSCS Card?

Once again, the Card Finder is your friend in this regard – just put in your trade and it will generate a response of which card you need and the qualification you must hold to get it.

What if I don’t have a qualification?

Examples Of Temporary CSCS Cards

Examples Of Temporary CSCS Cards

Within the range of CSCS cards are both Temporary and Provisional Cards.

For example, you can get a card if you are an Experienced Worker but have never held formal qualifications – many people call this “Time Served”.  To get the Red “Experienced Worker” card, you must be registered for a qualification and will need to send a copy of your registration to the CSCS to be issued with your card.

Provisional CSCS cards are issued to people who are working temporarily – for example someone who is being considered for a full time job, or as a potential Apprentice and who is on work experience.

Temporary cards cannot be renewed – the CSCS have become wise to their potential misuse.  However, they provide a means for people to enter the trade or start work on a “Fully Carded” site – or for an employer to migrate the workforce to fully qualified status.

There is also a CSCS “Trainee” card and one for people undertaking Apprenticeships.  Both these are Red and gain access to work on carded sites.

Can I claim “Grandfather Rights”?

To avoid wholesale disruption of the industry, when the CSCS scheme was first introduced, Industry Accreditation, also known as Grandfather Rights, was created so that existing “time served” workers could obtain CSCS cards on the strength of their employers’ recommendation rather than having a recognised qualification.

Whilst people already holding a card are currently able to renew it on the same basis, the Industry Accreditation classification and associated card was closed to new applications in 2010.

There are still about 60,000 people holding these cards, but from January 2020, all cards issued will expire in December 2024 and the card will not be issued for renewal from June 2024.

So if you have “Grandfather Rights” you are OK until 2024, but if you have never applied for them, or have let your card lapse, you will not be able to use this classification to get a card.

How do I get my qualifications?

Remember the good news – the money you spend on qualifications to get your CSCS Card can be claimed back in your tax return for the year.

This applies even if you are employed, rather than self-employed.  SuperSkills receives many enquiries from people who want to get qualified in order to move on from their present position, or whose employer does not offer training to staff.

Please also bear in mid, that if you (or the company your work for) are registered for VAT, that element of our invoice is fully recoverable.

Many calls we receive start with one of two misconceptions…. “I need my City & Guilds” or “I want my Level 3” so let’s start with those.

“City & Guilds” isn’t a qualification, or a qualification standard.  It is an Awarding Organisation, regulated by the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA).  Historically, they were associated with trade skills and in particular, construction qualifications.  That’s why so many people will have (back in the day) been through apprenticeships or other courses under their brand name.

The Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) developed their own awarding body Construction Skills, delivering similar qualifications and during the 2000’s joined the City & Guilds in the Construction Awards Alliance.  Subsequently they parted and CSkills Awards was created, an awarding body owned and operated by the CITB.  CSkills quickly became the leading awarding body for the construction sector.

Unsurprisingly, having the sector skills council, the awarding body and the card scheme operator under the same roof drew suggestions of a conflict of interest, so the CITB was forced to sell off CSkills Awards, leading to its purchase by the NOCN Group in 2017.

SuperSkills has been around long enough to have worked with the various awarding bodies throughout this time.  Whilst we’re looking forward to a period of stability, we are very happy to be delivering CSkills Awards in the knowledge they present the best opportunity for construction workers to get qualified quickly, simply and conveniently.

What are NVQ’s?

The letters “NVQ” stand for National Vocational Qualification.  In Scotland, Scottish Vocational Qualifications, or SVQ’s.  They are equivalent and interchangeable.

NVQ’s are regulated by the Qualification & Curriculum Authority (QCA).  To award the NVQ, the awarding body has to get approval for how the programme of learning and assessment is designed from the QCA.

NVQ’s start life with a Sector Skills Council, such as the CITB.  Employers work with the Sector Skills Council and set standards for every trade at a particular level.  A Site Carpenter at Level 2 will be required to have a set of skills and competencies, both personal and job related.  At Level 3, these will be for more complicated work and supervisory duties.

For example – Level 2 Site Carpenters are assessed “Installing first fixing components in the workplace”, whereas Level 3 assessment involves “Installing bespoke first fixing components in the workplace”.

The supervisory nature of the role is demonstrated – Level 2 “Conforming to productive working practices in the workplace” and at Level 3 “Confirming the occupational method of work in the workplace”.

As a basic rule of thumb, Level 2 qualifications sit with GCSE’s and Level 3 are more equivalent to “A” Levels.  Level 2 qualifications will get you a Blue “Skilled Worker” Card and Level 3 a Gold “Advanced Craft” or “Supervisor” CSCS Card.

“I want my Level 3”Our first question when a customer how to get a Gold CSCS Card is to ask why.  More often than not, we learn the potential candidate is (quite rightly) demonstrating his or her pride in trade skills gained over decades and wants them to be recognised.  They are “Advanced Craft” workers.

But more often than not, all they need is a Blue “Skilled Worker” CSCS card to get on or stay on site.  That’s why our advice – always given freely and impartially – is Level 2 will do.  Yes it’s great to have a Gold Level 3 card, but the Level 3 qualification is much bigger and more expensive than the Level 2.  Level 2 starts at £900 for a Practical Assessment and nearly every potential Level 3 candidate will be eligible for that “Fast Track” route to qualification.  Level 3 will usually be £2600.  So we will always find out your reasons for wanting the Level 3 qualification. Otherwise you’re doing the equivalent of putting expensive alloy wheels on your works van.  Nice to look at, but won’t pay you back.

Your qualification from CSkills Awards gained through SuperSkills will be delivered by Experienced Worker Practical Assessment or On Site Assessment & Training.  On site assessment is available for both Level 2 and Level 3 NVQ’s, but only Level 2 qualifications can be assessed through the Practical Assessment route.

I have a Diploma from XXX College or YYY Training Provider, but the CSCS won’t give me a card – why not?

This is a question we get asked too frequently.  It is particularly annoying to us, because the potential customer on the phone is deeply unimpressed.  They have often spent a lot of time and money getting a Level 2 or 3 Diploma and only now discover it is not the NVQ they originally needed – or indeed asked for.  We’ve written about this before.

Public Sector Further Education Colleges are particular offenders in this – and they should know better.  Even if the Administrators in their booking office don’t put somebody on the right course, the Assessors, who after all, have to be tradespeople, should recognise that Harry in his fifties, who’s been painting and decorating since he left school, doesn’t need to do a year or two of evening classes.

Similarly, you can’t go on a six or eight week course and get an NVQ at a training provider.  You must be assessed in the workplace.  Whilst many people get their skills doing this, they find afterwards the NVQ assessment element is not available in their area.

NVQ’s can be either Certificate or Diploma qualifications and the different names do not relate to value of the qualification, but rather the amount of Units/Credits that have to be achieved for it to be awarded.  So there is a Level 2 NVQ Diploma in Wood Occupations (Site Carpentry) and a Level 2 NVQ Certificate in Interior Systems – Dry Lining (Finishing).

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Both are NVQ’s.  Both will get you the Blue Card.  They are just made up of different numbers of Units and Credits.  If you ever need advice, just call us on 01845 527 445.

How do I renew my CSCS Card?

You can renew your card from six months before it expires until six months after.  If you have left it longer than six months after the expiry date, you will need to proceed on the basis of a new application – submitting your qualification, etc.  If you have been getting your card through Industry Accreditation, you will not be able to renew it if it has lapsed, so don’t let that happen!

Prior to renewing your card, you will have to undertake the CSCS Health, Safety & Environment test – this means the industry workforce will stay up to date with the latest trends in avoidance of accidents.

How much does a CSCS Test Cost?

It should cost £21.00  Always book through the CITB directly and you will get the test cheaply.  Use this link Don’t just Google “CSCS Tests” !!  If someone wants to charge you more, they have to explain what additional services they are providing.  (Best bet – if your shopping basket is asking for more than £21.00, you’re probably on the wrong website!)

How much is a CSCS Card?

£36.00  You get the card by Applying Online Here  Before doing this, make sure you have a scanned copy of your qualification certificate and the Test ID number from your HSE pass certificate.  If you have lost your NVQ certificate – take a look here about what you can do.

And there it is – your guide to CSCS Cards and we hope it has answered your questions.  If you have any more, or ever need FREE ADVICE about getting your NVQ and CSCS Card, just call SuperSkills Construction Training on 01845 527 445.  We’re only too happy to help.

CSCS Cards - The Colours, The Costs and What You Need To Do To Get Your CSCS Card Sorted Out If you have any more questions, or ever need FREE ADVICE about getting your NVQ and CSCS Card, just call SuperSkills Construction Training on 01845 527 445.  We're only too happy to help. Read More...

Coronavirus – Toolbox Talk For Construction Workers

Coronavirus – Toolbox talk for construction workers

Construction Industry Training BoardThis Coronavirus Toolbox Talk is from the CITB website – reproduced here for the benefit of SuperSkills website visitors, site supervisors and construction workers in general.

This toolbox talk has been updated and you should now Click Here

ReasonCoronavirus is a highly contagious disease that can have severe effects on people, especially those who are vulnerable. The virus is likely to pass from person to person in communal areas and where it is not possible to maintain safe distances between persons. If a person is infected while working it can be passed on through families and other contacts. You can spread the virus even if you don’t have symptoms.
OutlineThis talk covers the ways to maintain your health while working on construction sites.

Getting to work

  1. Wherever possible travel to site alone, using your own transport (for example, a car or bicycle).
  2. Avoid public transport.

On site

  1. Wash your hands when you arrive on site, regularly throughout the day (especially if you sneeze or cough and after eating or handling food) and again when you leave site.
  2. Always keep at least 2 metres away from other workers. This includes while you are working and during breaks and mealtimes – staggered breaks will help achieve this.
  3. Stay on site for your breaks. Do not use local shops. Bring your own meals and refillable drinking bottles. Do not share items (for example, cups).
  4. Only hold meetings that are absolutely necessary. Ideally, these should take place outdoors, with the minimum number of people and those people should be kept at least 2 metres apart.

Close work

Close working should be avoided.

  1. Non-essential physical work that requires close contact between workers should not be carried out.
  2. Work requiring skin-to-skin contact should not be carried out.
  3. All other work should be planned to minimise contact between workers.
  4. Re-usable PPE should be thoroughly cleaned after use and not shared between workers.
  5. Single use PPE should be disposed of so that it cannot be reused.
  6. Stairs should be used in preference to lifts or hoists.

Cleaning

Extra cleaning should be carried out on site, particularly in the following areas.

  1. Taps and washing facilities.
  2. Toilet flush and seats.
  3. Door handles and push plates.
  4. Handrails on staircases and corridors.
  5. Lift and hoist controls.
  6. Machinery and equipment controls.
  7. Food preparation and eating surfaces.
  8. Telephone equipment.
  9. Keyboards, photocopiers and other office equipment.

What to do if you think you are ill

If you develop a high temperature or a persistent cough while at work, you should:

  1. Report this to your supervisor.
  2. Avoid touching anything.
  3. Cough or sneeze into a tissue and put it in a bin or, if you do not have tissues, cough and sneeze into the crook of your elbow.
  4. Return home immediately.
  5. You must then follow the guidance on self-isolation and not return to work until your period of self-isolation has been completed.

Self-isolation

If you have any one of the following criteria, do not come to site.

  1. A high temperature or a new persistent cough – follow the guidance on self-isolation.
  2. Are a vulnerable person (by virtue of age, underlying health condition, clinical condition or pregnancy).
  3. Living with someone in self-isolation or with a vulnerable person.

Site policy

Now inform your workers of the site specific policy on coronavirus. 

Follow the 2 metre rule at all times.

Further guidance

The Construction Leadership Council has issued site operating procedures aimed at introducing consistent measures on sites of all sizes in line with the Government’s recommendations on social distancing.

Note: this is a rapidly developing situation – please ensure that you follow the latest Government guidance as it is published. 

This Coronavirus Toolbox Talk is from the CITB website - reproduced here for the benefit of SuperSkills website visitors, site supervisors and construction workers in general. Read More...

Coronavirus Update – NVQ Assessments & CSCS Cards (31 March 2020)

Coronavirus Update – NVQ Assessments & CSCS Cards (Updated 31 March 2020)

There are few events that are truly “unprecedented”, even though they come as a surprise to people who should have made proper arrangements to deal with them – the recent floods are a good example.  However, the outbreak of Coronavirus that has so quickly become a global pandemic can be describe accurately using that term.

There is no part of the economy that will go unaffected by these events, so it is not surprising the construction sector is coming under strain.  And every business is going through a steep learning curve to operate in a manner that means customers will feel safe dealing with them.

For a business like SuperSkills, this means making sure we do everything we can to eliminate the possibility of infection to our customers and staff.

Coronavirus ParticleUntil last week, SuperSkills had not been affected by the Government’s restrictions on premises being open.  However, when the more restrictive “lockdown” regime was announced, SuperSkills followed the advice and came away from our premises until further notice.

We contacted all the people who were booked in for practical assessments – they will be the first people we assess when the present restrictions on movement are lifted.

The telephone is still being answered – and a surprising number of people are calling for advice – don’t just worry about what to do regarding your NVQ, CSCS Card or Health & Safety test status – if you cannot find the answers you need by following the various links on this page, then call us on 01845 527 445

We (as in me) are regularly attending the premises to get the mail – it’s usually the Qualification Certificates for candidates that have arrived from the Awarding Body – so it’s important they get them as soon as possible.

We’ve done this because now is not a time to make life difficult for people – we need to stand together to come through this crisis.  Customers are the life blood of this business – they always have been and always will be.

That’s why we are also pleased to see the CITB and CSCS respond to the Coronavirus emergency with sensible and pragmatic steps to deal with potential delays in the issuing of CSCS Cards as a result of difficulties in getting a Health, Safety & Environment Test.

The short version – Site Managers should show leniency in respect of people whose CSCS Cards expire after mid-March of this year.  But to get all your questions about CSCS Cards answered, see here.  However, there is also some UPDATED ADVICE FROM THE CSCS which is worth reading – follow the link.

There is a new version of the CSCS Health & Safety test available for local managers to administer when somebody has not been able to get an on-screen test done because there are no test centres open at the moment.

It’s contained in an application for iPhones (here) and PC’s (here) – with an Android version to follow.

Keep an eye on our Facebook page SuperSkills Construction Training for further updates – in the meantime, Stay Safe!

There are few events that are truly "unprecedented", even though they come as a surprise to people who should have made proper arrangements to deal with them - the recent floods are a good example.  However, the outbreak of Coronavirus that has so quickly become a global pandemic can be describe accurately using that term.There is no part of the economy that will go unaffected by these events, so it is not surprising the construction sector is coming under strain.For a business like SuperSkills, this means making sure we do everything we can to eliminate the possibility of infection to our customers and staff. Read More...

Business As (Almost) Usual…..

Update – as time has moved on, so have the circumstances surrounding Covid-19.  Presently, SuperSkills is fully open and conducting assessments as normal.  Call 01845 527445 to book and we will give you any later information.

Everyone has been taken aback by the sudden increase in Corona Virus infections across the world.Coronavirus Particle

That a pathogen of this nature can make its way across the globe in such a short time – inflicting illness and even death along the way seems hard to comprehend – and our hearts go out to those made ill or who have died or lost loved ones.

It’s a sign of our times that air travel and the ease of access to it have no doubt contributed to the present circumstances.

But it is also heartening to know our public servants plan for these things and have the scientific knowledge to give effective and timely advice to politicians with the unenviable task of leading the country through these events.

Today’s news comes apace – the Premier League games for this weekend called off; the first two Grand Prix postponed; an ever-increasing count of people infected.

But it isn’t all doom and gloom – although people buying up all the hand sanitiser in Tesco and promptly putting it on Amazon would provide a contrary argument – there have already been some outstanding examples of folk who have helped others who have been in difficulty.  There’s no doubt we will see the best of humankind amongst the (relatively few) examples of selfishness over the next few weeks.

And in the meantime, we need to keep to the Government advice about self-isolating if we think we have been infected by the virus and making sure we do not pass it on.

And hand-washing.  Given the seriousness of the situation, it’s amazing that such a routine activity can have so much effect.  But it does, for which we should be thankful.

Every business should by now have put into place a planned response to these events and SuperSkills is no exception.

We are fortunate to have the ability to arrange for colleagues to work at home, so the only people in the business are those who have to be there at any one time.

Our assessment centre runs on the basis of very few candidates being assessed together and as you can imagine, every precaution we can think of is in place.

And whilst we always take a deposit from people when they book their assessment date, we have today put into place a means by which people don’t worry losing that deposit if they fall ill or have had to commence a period of self-isolation.

And now we wait – hoping this will pass during the next few weeks and months.  Praying it will not effect our friends and families.  Worrying about the long term impact on the economy as a whole and the livelihoods of people who work in construction.

But also making sure we continue to offer that helping hand, to provide the services our customers have come to value and to keep our business running in tough times.  We’re lucky to have built-in resilience, a product of being around for a long time and we are no strangers to hard work.

So, as the title says – “Business As (Almost) Usual”  – and let’s plan for the worst, whilst hoping for the best.

 

Update – as time has moved on, so have the circumstances surrounding Covid-19.  Presently, SuperSkills is fully open and conducting assessments as normal.  Call 01845 527445 to book and we will give you any later information. Everyone has been taken aback by the sudden increase in Corona Virus infections across the world. That a pathogen […] Read More...

Housebuilding Won’t Improve Until The Game Of “Ministerial Musical Chairs” Stops

We need to build three hundred thousand houses a year. That’s a tough challenge. Even more so when you think that we haven’t done that since the 1950’s.

And it’s not helped when there is constant turnover of Housing Ministers. Esther McVey – who started in the post when Boris Johnson became PM last month – is the tenth since 2010. Yes, you read that correctly. The average lifespan of a Housing Minister is less than a year.

Housing Minister Esther McVey
Esther McVey

Hardly surprising then, that people in the industry lose a certain amount of enthusiasm as the invitations to “meet the new Minister” pop into their Inbox. You’d be tempted to develop an auto response in your Mail programme that just sent a list of things that need to be done.

But what would be on that list? I suspect everyone would have a different view – which won’t be helped by the disjointed voice of the Construction Sector as a critical element of the economy. Will the new ministerial team speak to the Federation of Master Builders, the Construction Industry Council, Build UK or the Strategic Forum for Construction?

This point, ably made by Lem Bingley, the newly-appointed Editor of Construction News recently, highlights just one of the problems the new Ministers face. They must look with envy upon their colleagues at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, who ask their officials who they need to meet to talk about Farming and get pointed in one direction – the National Farmer’s Union.

Lem quite rightly calls for the sector to speak with one voice. But something else is also being overlooked. Anne Milton MP was the sixth Skills Minister since 2010 and left the Government last month, by “pre-resigning” on the assumption Boris Johnson would pursue a Brexit policy she could not support. She had only been in post a short time – Gavin Williamson took over as Secretary of State having been out of Government for a short period prior to the latest reshuffle. He’s kept the skills brief within his responsibilities according to the Department for Education website.

At the moment, the nation is woefully short of trained construction workers and this year’s apprenticeship starts data indicates there will be less than 10,000 new starts in 2019. There are just over 2.3 million construction workers presently, but the workforce is getting older and construction careers are not being promoted sufficiently in schools.

If we are to build enough houses, the nation has to have a strategy that encompasses all aspects of the issue – land availability, construction methods, workforce and financing. Consistency is essential to achieve the goal – in leadership, approach and delivery.

It’s time to turn off the music and get to work.

 

We need to build three hundred thousand houses a year. That’s a tough challenge. Even more so when you think that we haven’t done that since the 1950’s. And it’s not helped when there is constant turnover of Housing Ministers. Esther McVey – who started in the post when Boris Johnson became PM last month […] Read More...

Getting Paid Should Be Part Of The Job – Not An Added Bonus!

A few weeks ago Richard Harrington the Business Minister spoke at the annual Construction Sector Forum and made a particular point about the need for large contractors to pay their bills to subcontractors on time.

He highlighted a couple of cases where, as he put it, big businesses were using the money they owed to subcontractors as a form of financing within their own enterprise.

It’s quite clear that where subcontractors are being placed in the position where they will not get the work unless they agree to terms such as invoice date +60, or large retentions, this is unfair and to be blunt, a form of corporate bullying.

Yet I also see it on a very regular basis. At SuperSkills, we are always very wary of dealing with the Public Sector, because of previous difficulties in getting paid promptly.

There are government guidelines that are issued to different departments of state requiring them to adhere to quite strict standards when it comes to paying suppliers. However, it is equally clear that when you are told you’re not getting paid on time there is little you can do about it.

We used to do quite a lot of work for a school in a nearby town and the Admin staff seemed to take a pride in messing our payments about. They were quite surprised when we told them to look for a new provider.

Without naming names, there are some councils that we simply will not do business with and one very large department of state that has to pay us in advance at the time of placing their order.

Interestingly, the Department for Work and Pensions is a good example of an organisation that is set up a system that pays its suppliers promptly. We do a lot of work for them and they make it dead easy to invoice and get paid.  (Why there’s conversely such a delay for Universal Credit payments is beyond me…….)

But it’s not just big business or the public sector – one of our assessors had this experience recently on a shop refurbishment and he’s soon at the Small Claims Court to get his money.

He’s avoided using a solicitor, because with the greatest of respect to them as a profession, they do tend to be the only people holding any money after the dust has settled…………………

Looking at social media it seems that late payment is pretty endemic in the construction sector and one reads with interest posts where particularly creative means of persuasion have been used.  (And I don’t mean “sending the boys round”.)

I confess to smiling yesterday evening reading about a plumber who had secretly installed an additional isolating valve to the water supply, the location of which was only disclosed after payment had been received!

It really is time late payment of people further down the food chain was clamped down on – not least because it means those small businesses can’t pay their bills and funnily enough, they have a greater motivation to do so.

A few weeks ago Richard Harrington the Business Minister spoke at the annual Construction Sector Forum and made a particular point about the need for large contractors to pay their bills to subcontractors on time. He highlighted a couple of cases where, as he put it, big businesses were using the money they owed to […] Read More...

Ever Thought Of Being An NVQ Assessor?

NVQ Assessor Interviewing Candidate

NVQ Assessor Mark Smith (R) Interviewing a Candidate at SuperSkills

I meet dozens of construction workers every week and speak to even more on the telephone.  (At this point, I may need to point out to people who’ve Googled “Become an NVQ Assessor” and landed here, don’t be put off – most of this applies to other sectors as well………………………..)

Almost without exception the men and women I speak to are hard-working people, who play by the rules and want to get on in life.  They work in a tough industry, have a great pride in the skills they have acquired over the years and in most cases are self-employed.

However, not very many have a “Plan B”.  Without the ability to do their job, they don’t have something to fall back on if something happens.

The most likely cause of being unable to work will be injury or illness – contrary to what has become a common misconception, the risk of being unable to work because of falling demand has reduced enormously.

The Government’s desire to increase infrastructure projects, to build houses and to stimulate the economy means there will be years of work ahead for people who know what they are doing and get on with the job.

Construction Sector Work-Related Injuries

Construction Sector Work-Related Injuries (Source – HSE)

Disgracefully, deaths and serious injury in construction continue to follow a predictable pattern.  Most deaths are caused by falls from height.  Far too many people get lung disease from silica dust.  64% of work-related illness or injury is musculo-skeletal.  Lifting and handling accounts for 22% of injury (Source: Health & Safety Executive)

What would you do?

Just think for a minute.  What is your “Plan B”?  God forbid, you have an accident.  Your years using that palm sander means you lose feeling in your fingers and can’t hold a brush.  Some muppet drops a brick off a scaffold as you are getting out of a truck and before you’ve got your hard hat on.

But let’s not always fear the worst……

You’re a construction worker in the trades.  But deep inside, when Monday comes, your heartstrings do not play a melodious tune.  Not because you’ve got a hangover.  Not even because Arsene Wenger is convinced just being in the “Top Four” is the pinnacle of success and The Arsenal dropped a point or two (yet again) on Saturday.

You know you’ve got more to offer.

That youngster you showed how to fit a lintel last week sucked in knowledge like a sponge and it made you feel great.

Young-Person-Being-Taught-Construction Skills

Young People Can Be Like Sponges When It Comes To Knowledge

The Site Agent put you in charge of a team sorting out snags and took you for a pint because he was so pleased.

You knew what had to be done.  You told people what was required.  You checked it was to the right standard.  You provided a report.

Those are exactly the skills Trainers and NVQ Assessors need.  I quite often come across people who want to be an NVQ Assessor and they ask me what they need to do to become one.  I’m always happy to help.

Will you get a job if you qualify as an NVQ Assessor?

You betcha!  (Slight reservation – this does depend on your talent and motivation.  Getting fed up with being outdoors is not a good reason.)

The Government plan to increase the numbers of Apprentices during this Parliament by 3 million.  The industry is becoming more regulated.  Companies are having to get their staff qualified.  The number of good  NVQ Assessors is not growing sufficiently to meet demand.

What qualifications will you need to become an NVQ Assessor?

I always tell people the criteria I use to recruit people into SuperSkills.  I always start with the Personal Skills. The right motivation – to bring on the next generation.  To share your knowledge.  To help develop the UK’s skills base.  Diligence – the ability to do a 100% job every time.  Customer awareness.  Predictability.  Punctuality.  Reliability.  The list goes on – basic employability skills.

Literacy and Numeracy.  As my Granny would say – being able to read, write and do numbers.  Here I need to use some “training jargon”.  You need English and Maths at Level 2 – which is GCSE A*-C or the equivalent.

NVQ Assessor Qualification.  The current qualification is known as TAQA – Training, Assessment and Quality Assurance (Click the link to see the details.)  It is at Level 3 – the equivalent of an “A” Level (and you can progress to Level 4).  It will take about six months.  If you’re in or near Yorkshire, try YH Training Services, who deliver it and are excellent.

Teaching Qualification.  Don’t worry – you don’t have to get a set of leather patches for your elbows and head off to College for three years – the standard qualification is known as “Petals” – from the acronym PTTLS – which stands for Preparing To Teach In The Lifelong Learning Sector.  To find a local provider, Google “PTTLS .  A suggestion – choose carefully.  Check reviews from students.  There is a mixed bag of provision, but a fairly standard price.  If you want to be an NVQ Assessor, you’ll be investing a lot of time and money.

Trade Qualification.  You will need Level 3 NVQ in the Trade for which you want to be an NVQ Assessor.  There.  I’ve said it.  I know a lot of people will disagree.  They say “Assessment is assessment is assessment”.  Remember – I’m describing the criteria we use at SuperSkills.  There are some providers that will let people do NVQ Assessment without that level of qualification.  (Or even any!)  We just happen to take the view that when you are assessing somebody, you need to know what you are talking about.

NVQ Assessor Photographs Candidate

NVQ Assessment At SuperSkills Is Quick, Simple & Convenient. Click For Details

(While I’m at it – a quiet nudge.  Did I mention we can help you get your own NVQ?)

Experience.  (Lots of.)  By this I mean detailed experience in a specific field.  It’s got to be current.  All SuperSkills assessors also practise their trade on a commercial basis when they are not assessing.  We also only use them to assess their own trade.

There is such a thing as a “Swiss Army Knife”, which can do everything, but I’ve always preferred to use a screwdriver if I want to get a screw done up properly.  My eyes glaze over when I hear of an “NVQ Assessor” (the quotes are deliberate) who can “assess” bricklaying, dry lining, plant operations and roof tiling.

Some trades go together – plastering and tiling, for example.  But there is a limit.  I always bear in mind the candidate.  He or she will have a fierce pride in trade skills acquired over years – decades even.  Credibility is essential.  In my experience, trades can spot a faker a mile off.  But even more importantly – people pay hard-earned money to get their qualifications and they have a right to expect the best at all stages in the process.

The future of the Construction Industry

If you’ve already got your “Plan B” – that’s great.  Tick the box, move on.  Site Management, Health & Safety Adviser, run a Pub, form a Blues Band, you name it.  Congratulations.

If not – think how you can help develop future generations of Construction Workers.  Become an NVQ Assessor!

Construction Workers need "Plan B" to guarantee their future. Scroll down to find out how to become an NVQ Assessor Read More...