CPCS plant card scheme ‘not fit for purpose’, says Unite

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The Construction Plant Competence Scheme (CPCS) card scheme in its current form is not fit for purpose, warns construction union Unite

Unite has demanded that there is cross-industry action to resolve the Construction Plant Competence Scheme (CPCS) card scheme issues, to ensure that workers are not denied employment.

Construction Plant Competence Scheme card scheme

Over 200,000 workers who operate large plant on construction sites rely on the cards to access employment. The cards ensure that contractors can verify that the worker has the appropriate skills and qualifications.

The plant skills card scheme has been plagued with problems since late last year when the renewal system was transitioned over by new owner vocational skills charity NOCN.

NOCN Group purchased the CPCS card scheme from the Construction Industry Trading Board (CITB) last year.

It is understood that the problems are linked to a lack of investment in the scheme over the previous five years.

CPCS card issues must be swiftly resolved

Unite national officer for construction, Jerry Swain, said: “As it currently stands the CPCS card scheme is not fit for purpose.

“It is essential that problems to the CPCS card scheme are swiftly resolved. A backlog in renewing and issuing cards is denying skilled workers the ability to earn a living.

“If the problems are not swiftly resolved then the entire scheme will be undermined, which will result in major safety implications for the industry.

“While the problems with the scheme have arisen under the auspices of NOCN, the CITB which previously owned the scheme also has a moral duty to assist in resolving the problems.

“The CPCS scheme has been the industry go to for decades. It is held in high regard for its standards. It is unacceptable that the CITB has allowed this situation to arise and more importantly failed to step in and to rectify the situation.

“Unite believes that an urgent meeting of the key stakeholders needs to come together to thrash out the problems and identify solutions. Such a meeting must include the NOCN Group, the CITB, the CPCS management committee, trade unions and the relevant trade federations.”

CITB response

A CITB spokesman said: “CITB is very concerned about the problems within the operations of the CPCS cards scheme and is in close contact with NOCN to help them resolve this difficult situation as soon as possible – and we are told that the backlog is gradually reducing.

“NOCN purchased the scheme in February 2019, and we have worked with NOCN since then and will continue to support them for as long as it takes to return to a situation where people’s ability to work is not disrupted.

“In terms of investment, categories of plant were continuously developed and updated, along with the dedicated systems that removed the need for red card application forms to be filled in and card holders’ achievements to be available online for checking, and throughout this time Unite sat as members of the CPCS management committee.”

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