- 1 What is the CSCS?
- 2 What do I need to successfully apply for a Blue CSCS Card?
- 3 How much does a Blue CSCS Card cost?
- 4 How do I renew my Blue CSCS Card when it is due to expire?
- 5 In Summary
The blue CSCS card scheme is designed for individuals who undertake skilled work on building and construction sites. Indeed, the programme itself is often referred to as the ‘blue skilled worker card’.
There is a range of blue CSCS cards available, with the type of card dependent on role, sector, experience, and seniority. Each construction trade has its own specific blue CSCS card. Each one demonstrates an individual’s competence within a particular discipline.
This article intends to highlight all of the key information related to the blue CSCS card programme. This includes references to the card’s qualification criteria, application processes, related costs, and renewal terms.
What is the CSCS?
Prior to discussing the detail around the blue skilled worker card, it’s perhaps worth offering a general overview of what the CSCS is. The Construction Skills Certification Scheme, or CSCS, allows workers to identify themselves as accredited, appropriately trained individuals to relevant employers in their field. In this way, it also provides employers with reassurance that prospective employees are competent and suitably upskilled in a certain sector or discipline. Furthermore, it also confirms an individual’s understanding and awareness of relevant health and safety practices.
The importance of owning a valid CSCS card appropriate to your skill-set
It is not legally required to hold a CSCS card in order to enter a construction site. However, most employers will demand that you possess a CSCS card, and that it is appropriate to the work you’ll be expected to carry out. Checks to ensure you are in possession of a valid card will often be conducted by those in leadership positions on-site. This could be executed by either your site supervisors or a member of the on-site management team. They can do this by either physically observing your blue skilled worker card, or scanning the chip located on the front of the card. This chip can produce detailed training records, and therefore prove whether or not you’ve attained the necessary qualifications for your respective role. The ability to retrieve this information makes attempts to hoodwink the system pointless. Don’t do it!
If your job requires you to consistently perform technical duties, it’s highly likely that you’ll need to possess a relevant CSCS blue skilled worker card. However, if you’re a labourer or attending site in a training capacity, you’ll need either a green or red card respectively. If you’re in a supervisory or managerial position, your employer may expect you to hold a higher grading of card. If you’re unsure about which card type is most appropriate for your role, please liaise with a course tutor, or a reliable industry professional. Alternatively, it may be worth visiting the ‘Types of cards’ page on the official CSCS website. This offers comprehensive information on which individuals should apply for what card schemes.
What do I need to successfully apply for a Blue CSCS Card?
In order to gain a blue skilled worker card, you’ll need to have passed a series of relevant assessments.
The CITB test
All candidates must successfully pass the CITB Health, Safety & Environment test. This exam determines whether individuals have the adequate level of safety knowledge to compliantly perform tasks on a construction site. The CITB, or Construction Industry Training Board supports employers and employees within the construction sector. Their mission is to generally improve standards across the industry, mainly by providing training tools and learning materials and establishing testing criteria to judge competency levels.
The CITB assessment is a relatively straightforward multiple-choice test. It has a two-year validity period. Therefore, candidates will need to ensure they track when their test accreditation is due to expire, and re-take the assessment accordingly. Critically, this will ensure that you’re fully up to date with any new legislation or guidance, and keep health and safety awareness at the forefront of your mind.
In addition to passing this health & safety assessment, you also must have completed one of the following learning modules:
- A construction-related Level 2 NVQ in your respective discipline (Level 2 SVQ in Scotland).
- An accredited apprenticeship programme. For example, you would need proof that you’ve attended an employer-sponsored apprenticeship scheme, received certification from the City & Guilds of London Institute of Craft, or acquired CSCS Approved Trailblazer status.
Without any one of the qualifications listed above, you’ll be unable to attain a CSCS blue skilled worker card. Again, it’s critical that you complete a training course specifically related to your field of practice. For example, if looking to attain a blue card within the electrotechnical industry, you may look to undertake the C&G 2365 Level 2 Diploma in Electrical Installation. For reference (and in similarity to the CITB), the City and Guilds is an accredited skills and certification provider, and facilitates a range of qualifications across a number of trades and commercial sectors. Please note that alternative awarding bodies are available. For more information on which training programme and certification organization is most suitable for you, please again either speak with your course convenor, or a relevant industry stakeholder.
Would a Red CSCS Card currently be more suitable?
If you’re yet to conduct one of the listed training or apprenticeship courses, your next step should be to apply for a red CSCS card. These cards are reserved for those who require access to building sites in order to learn new skills and gain experience. By acquiring a red card, you’ll be able to cultivate your skill set in your chosen discipline. You’ll therefore be able to temporarily bypass the requirement to possess a blue skilled worked card.
However, please be aware that the red CSCS card route is seen as a non-permanent solution for workers. The scheme is purely in place to enable individuals to sustain their learning journey. There are five different types of red cards, which are issued dependent on experience and capability level. Although there isn’t a consistent validation period between the cards, none of them can be renewed after their date of expiration. This is because candidates are expected to have successfully registered on an apprenticeship scheme, or secure an appropriate qualification, before their respective card timeframe elapses. If this is achieved, they’ll then be in an appropriate position to apply for a blue skilled worker card. In this situation, it may feel a little like you’re being put up against the clock. However, the vast majority of candidates will find that validation periods afford ample time to engage in additional learning.
It’s perhaps also worth noting that no NVQ qualifications come with the CITB test as standard. Therefore, you’ll need to ensure that this assessment is navigated as a separate endeavour.
Make sure you get your hands on one!
Regardless of your skillset, experience level, or employment history, you cannot apply for a blue CSCS card without tackling one of the aforementioned training programmes. Finishing an apprenticeship course or obtaining an NVQ is the only industry-recognized way of proving you have the required competencies to conduct your specific role. If you’ve managed to secure a technical role without acquiring a blue skilled worker card to press, then we would definitely still encourage you to target one of these training schemes! Obtaining a blue skilled worker card will serve to promote your own job security, and provide reassurance to you and your employer that you’re adequately trained to compliantly undertake all of your particular workplace duties.
How much does a Blue CSCS Card cost?
Although charges have fluctuated in recent times, you can expect to pay £36.00 for a blue CSCS card. The mandatory CITB Health, Safety and Environment Test is priced at £21.00. Clearly, you’ll also need to factor in additional costs for training modules, which, dependent on trade or profession, can stack up quite quickly.
Embracing a training programme suitable to your personal circumstances
However, given recent changes in the way courses are facilitated, there is an opportunity to spread these costs. Most learning providers will now offer staggered training programmes, which means candidates are able to conduct studies at their own pace. This in turn offers financial respite, as you’ll be able to pay over a period that suits you, as opposed to stumping up the full amount within a set number of weeks. Furthermore, it’s also worth exploring whether you, or indeed your employer, is eligible for a government grant. In some cases, this funding will cover all associated training costs. Therefore, this could be the difference between securing a qualification, or having to pursue an alternative career path.
For those who may struggle to complete courses in person due to personal or current workplace commitments, there may also be the option of conducting qualifications by virtual means. The coronavirus pandemic has served to accelerate usage of online platforms generally, and this shift in gear is particularly noticeable in how educational bodies deliver training. Most learning providers will now offer fully or partially virtual courses, providing both e-learning and video conferencing solutions.
Therefore, regardless of personal circumstance, financial concerns, or experience level, all individuals should now be able to access suitable learning facilities. True, undertaking the relevant training has never been easier! Make sure you don’t discount future career opportunities due to a pre-conceived limitation, and use the tools available to complete your NVQ or apprenticeship programme. Once this has been achieved, you can then apply for your blue CSCS skilled workers card, and really start to realise your career aspirations.
How do I renew my Blue CSCS Card when it is due to expire?
All blue cards are valid for five years. At the end of this period, you’ll need to re-apply for the same or a differing card dependent on your personal requirements. As these cards are specifically aligned to disciplines which require a significant level of skill, please do not be surprised if criteria for the card linked to your current role changes each time you renew. It’s important that every discipline maintains pace with industry standards, and adapts based on evolving needs. Therefore, it might be that you need to undertake additional training to ensure you’re across any updates, and can competently deliver on new approaches and techniques.
The simplest way to renew your blue skilled workers card is to register for a personal CSCS account. This will provide direct access to the CSCS’ online application service. You can do this by visiting the relevant CSCS webpage, and following the on-screen instructions. Your CSCS account will become your live learning hub, and can offer up to date information on applications. It will also show CSCS cards you’ve successfully acquired previously, and card expiration dates. Employers can also sign-up to the online application service, and apply for CSCS cards on behalf of their employees.
If you would prefer to talk directly to an advisor when renewing your card, contact the CSCS by phone on 0344 994 4777. Please note that if your CSCS card has been lost, stolen or damaged, you can also either use the online portal or call in order to apply for a replacement card. When contacting the CSCS by phone, please ensure you either have your CSCS registration number, or national insurance number to hand. This is needed in order to pass a basic security check.
If looking to apply for a blue CSCS skilled workers card, ensure you take time to ensure it is the appropriate one for your respective industry or skill set. Remember, you must have a valid CITB Health, Safety and Environment Test certificate. This assessment should have been successfully passed within the last two years.
Acquiring a skilled workers card will also involve conducting an apprenticeship or NVQ course in your relevant area of expertise. Therefore, please remind yourself of the specific qualification best suited to the particular blue card you’re applying for. It’s also important to remember that you may be eligible to receive financial support in your training endeavours, whether that be directly from government, or via an employer-related scheme. When shopping around for learning providers, ensure you select a body that supports your personal training requirements. This may include flexibility around scheduling, a virtual learning option, or paying in instalments. The actual card itself (and the associated CITB test) is priced relatively modestly, and, as discussed, can be applied for via either the CSCS online application service, or contacting the CSCS directly by phone.
Finally, we wish you the best of luck in your application process, and hope that you find the right blue CSCS skilled workers card appropriate to your profession.