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The Right Construction Qualification At The Right Price – Is It Really That Difficult?

Dry Lining (Fixing) EWPA in progress

Dry Lining (Fixing) EWPA in progress

We’re not stupid here at SuperSkills.  We aim to give people the right construction qualification, so they get the CSCS Card they need to carry on working.

Obviously, we do this for a living.  It follows we need to make a profit.  That way we can pay the staff, pay the CITB for delivering their qualifications, pay for the materials people use and pay for our premises.

In March, we decided to raise our prices.  For the first time since 2011.  As anyone in the trade will know, materials costs have gone up over the years.  And as you will have read in the papers, there was an increase in Business Rates.

We thought about this long and hard.  There are tens of thousands of people in the trades who need to get their CSCS Cards.  Many are being affected by the withdrawal of the “Construction Related Occupations” card.  They need their NVQ.  Going back to the start, we’re not stupid.  We know people don’t come to us because they want to.  They come because they have to.  That’s why over the last ten years, we have delivered the Experienced Worker Practical Assessment (EWPA) route to NVQ.

This is the quickest, simplest and most convenient way for people who have been in their trade many years to get their construction qualification.  It’s not easy – I was speaking to a Carpenter this morning who pointed out this was no “soft option”.  But it is the means by which people who do not need training can get the NVQ, get their CSCS Card and get over the problem.  Usually, from first phone call until getting the card is about four weeks.  You can see our Guide here.

To do this, we need highly trained and competent staff.  Not all NVQ Assessors are capable of assessing the EWPA route.  And I know from bitter experience how not getting your staff right causes endless problems.  (If you want to know about becoming an Assessor, click here.)

Site Carpentry NVQ Assessment EWPAR in progress

Site Carpentry NVQ Assessment EWPAR in progress

We also need large premises.  When people come to our assessment centre, most are surprised at the comprehensive nature of the facility.

We need really good support staff and a great planning and delivery setup.  With six different trades arriving all the time, logistics is the key to a great service.  Joining up the candidate – at a time to suit him or her – the materials, the assessor and the work space is hard to achieve.  Having a former Army Quartermaster on the payroll has proved a Godsend.

Our fundamental mission is to solve the client’s problem.  Get the right construction qualification.  Get the NVQ and CSCS card so they can carry on working.  But at the same time, we need to make sure they are reassured along the way.  That’s why our office staff are (according to our customers) the best in the business.  They all know the job is to solve the caller’s problem, to settle them down (some are deeply unimpressed with having to get a CSCS Card) and to talk them through the process.

And yes, we do this for a living.  We charge a reasonable amount for our service.  I found out yesterday that one of our competitors is charging £600 more than we do for the same service.  I was more than surprised, I was disappointed.  Disappointed that people who work hard on sites were being charged a rate I consider cannot be justified.  Disappointed that hard working people were – to put it bluntly – being taken advantage of.

I’ve seen the training provider concerned offers a “Price Match Guarantee” on some (not all) of their advertising.  That’s if anything worse – it means that some people will have a cheaper price to quote and get the “Price Match”.  Others will not.  They will pay six hundred pounds more for the exact same service.

I’m not some altruistic tree hugger.  But I believe in a fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay.  And a fair price where people get something at a value which reflects the service they receive and the costs associated with it.

Perhaps I should be more “businesslike”.  Perhaps I should celebrate that my primary market competitor charges so much more than we do at SuperSkills.  But I don’t do that.  I think it is unfair to charge people more than you need to for something they have to obtain so they can look after their families.

If you want to know more about getting your construction qualification, your NVQ and CSCS Card, click here.