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].

Mark Priestman has more than 20 years’ experience in the natural stone sector. He plays an active role in the development and delivery of training in this specialist environment. Along with his father, David Priestman, he runs a training consultancy whose mantra is: Qualify the Workforce!

Its time we talked again about Grandfather!

In last month’s issue of Natural Stone Specialist I had the pleasure of presenting an interview I’d conducted with CSCS on your behalf. There is one subject, though, I’d like to focus on more closely: CSCS cards issued on the basis of ‘grandfather rights’ (as we might refer to them). Or Industry Accreditation as they are officially known.

The reason is that there might be a significant number of card holders who believe their card status is secure when it isn’t. The Chair of the Natural Stone Industry Training Group, Michelle Turner, has asked for this news to be broadcast more widely and with greater urgency.

So, let’s check whether your card is secure.

If you have a card that says on the front ‘Industry accreditation’, then this is about you. It is also about you if you hold a blue, gold or black CSCS card that has the words ‘Industry accreditation’ on the back next to any of the occupational skills listed. You need to be aware that ‘certification’ of your ability in that skill area is being withdrawn. 

If, on the other hand, the occupational skill is listed as a level 2, 3 or whatever, and there is no mention of industry accreditation, then it is most likely based on a Vocational Qualification (VQ) achievement and is ‘safe’. But my advice is still to check and confirm against the CSCS website that your card won’t suffer from Industry accreditation withdrawal.

There is some confusion as it seems many learners underwent a level 2 NVQ in the past, then their employer claimed grandfather rights on their behalf equivalent to the level 3 NVQ. This has meant in the mind of the learner that they achieved a level 2 and a level 3 NVQ. But they didn’t. The level 3 equivalency was credited to them as  grandfather rights (temporary provision) not as a qualification achieved (which bears no expiry date).

With the removal of the grandfather rights, the holder might no longer qualify for a gold card but instead have to obtain a blue card based on their level 2 qualification.

Some had grandfather rights only, with no vocational qualification. They will not be able to renew continuously on that basis.

What is the background to this change?

The Construction Leadership Council directed CSCS that all cardholders must demonstrate they have achieved a nationally recognised construction related qualification.

This direction has already resulted in the withdrawal of cards such as Construction Site Operative, Construction Related Occupation and Construction Site Visitor. The only cards still to be withdrawn to meet the direction are Industry Accreditation (IA) cards – the Grandfather Rights cards.

In July 2024 CSCS will cease renewing IA cards. Anyone applying for a renewal before that date will be able to hold the card only until the end of December 2024, when all AI cards will expire.

What do you need to do if you hold such a card?

If you are certain you will retire before December 2024 you need do nothing more.

Some IA cardholders have subsequently gained an NVQ / SVQ, so they can apply for a blue, gold or black card. Others will be in organisational roles that don’t require a card.

For everyone else it’s best not to sit on your hands, so to speak. 2024 is only five years away – and how long ago does 2014 seem?

If you don’t have an NVQ you need to make a plan to register to get one. The level of NVQ will dictate which CSCS card you will be eligible for. The blue Skilled Worker card is for level 2 achievers, the gold card for level 3 achievers and the black Manager card for level 6 achievers.

While you are working towards your NVQ you can apply for a temporary red Trainee card.

Not having a CSCS card can make life difficult, not just working on UK sites but also tendering for projects.

So, Grandfathers, don’t let this one slide.