A Qualified Workforce: by Mark Priestman

Mark Priestman is a Partner at Priestman Associates LLP, a leading fa√Åade preservation project consultancy, from stonemasonry and heritage skills through to site supervision and conservation management. The partnership is trusted by the leading brands of the sector as an NVQ provider for experienced, upskiller and apprentice workers. 07876 687212. [email protected].


And parents and students are focused on the academic year ahead, with parents excited about what success will mean for their nippers.

Perhaps this is a good time, too, for attention to be given to the skills, training, assessment and qualification of our workforces.

This column has spoken at length about the education of trainees and apprentices — and we will certainly return to that.

For a moment, though, let’s consider our experienced but as yet uncertificated staff. Whether you are self-employed or employed, and either don’t have a CSCS card or have one that is either un-renewable or doesn’t cover your full workload, you need NVQs. These can be achieved through the internet on-site assessment & training (OSAT) route, which is likely to be your best way to get recognised.

NVQs come in a variety of flavours. Let’s discuss some that might be of interest to the natural stone sector:

At level 2 – an achiever can apply to CSCS for a blue, Skilled Worker card. The skills applicable at this level include façade cleaner, façade restorer, modular paver and a raft of stonemasonry qualifications, including banker, cladder, cutter, external fixer and internal fixer.

At NVQ level 3 – the CSCS Gold Card is the holy grail. There are three main routes to this: the first is Advanced Craft in Stonemasonry; the second Heritage Skills in either Masonry or Façade preservation; the third, supervisory skills such as Occupational Work Supervision or Construction Contracting Operations.

At NVQ level 6 you can apply for the CSCS Black Card for Construction Managers. NVQs are available for either site management or contracts management. On the site side there are two routes, either Conservation or Building & Civil Engineering.


What about those with cards achieved using the now expiring grandfather rights?

They will need to achieve an NVQ in order to maintain their status as a certified skilled worker. And all of the aforementioned routes remain available to them.

So, I wish you all well as you work towards personal qualifications or qualifying your workforce in the months ahead!


There remain two spaces available on the current intake of the CITB Specialist Applied-Skills Programmes (SAPs) in either Façade Preservation or Stone Fixing. Please do give me a shout if you are interested in filling one of them. My contact details are under my photo (above).