- 1 The importance of the CSCS card scheme
- 2 Prerequisites for a CSCS Supervisor Card
- 3 The CITB Test
- 4 Once I receive my CSCS Supervisor Card, what tasks will I be expected to deliver in my role as Supervisor?
- 5 Management: relationship and progression
- 6 How can I consolidate my position as a high-performing Supervisor?
- 7 How do I apply for a Supervisor CSCS Card?
- 8 How long is the CSCS Supervisor valid for?
- 9 How much does a CSCS Supervisor Card Cost?
- 10 Summary
However, before specifically addressing the supervisor gold card, it’s worth firstly providing an overview of the general CSCS framework. The CSCS, or Construction Skills Certification Scheme, is an essential tool used by the construction industry. The scheme serves to identify a worker’s skill set, occupation, and experience level. This is achieved through a variety of different cards, which are categorised by colour and title. Therefore, workers apply for cards dependent on their job role and associated capabilities. Presuming the individual is successful in their application, the card then serves to endorse their credentials. The schemes are often specific to a particular field or discipline. For example, a prospective or fully-qualified plumber, carpenter, or bricklayer, can apply for schemes specifically within their trade.
As mentioned already, the gold card scheme is reserved for those with a greater level of accountability or technical expertise. Therefore, if you’re an applicant for either of the two cards on offer, you should be considerably experienced in your trade. Red cards (white for management level trainees) indicate that the holder is currently operating within a training capacity. Conversely, green and blue cards identify labourers and skilled workers respectively, who are established in their occupation. Black cards are allocated to site managers and senior leadership personnel.
The importance of the CSCS card scheme
Although the scheme plays a critical role in the sector, there is no legal obligation to own a CSCS card in order to gain access to a construction site. Nevertheless, most employers will insist that you are in possession of a CSCS card that reflects your on-site position. An employee owning the correct CSCS card carries importance for two key reasons.
Firstly, it enables site leadership teams to efficiently and accurately allocate tasks. This is inclusive of site supervisors, who will almost in all cases be in ownership of a gold CSCS card. Asking an untrained, red card employee, to deliver work typically undertaken by a blue card holder, could lead to adverse consequences. An employee, ill-equipped to perform a job compliantly, could endanger themselves, their colleagues, or the client. The deployment of CSCS cards hugely reduces the risk, as it allows supervisors and managers to quickly and confidently administer duties to the right people. Therefore, ultimately, the CSCS card programme helps to facilitate the smooth operation of building sites.
Prerequisites for a CSCS Supervisor Card
The supervisor card is targeted at individuals who are either already operating in, or close to assuming, on-site supervisory positions. Therefore, if you’ve currently worked for a limited time in the construction industry, we would encourage you to consider alternative card types. For those not already conducting a supervisor role, you must be able to prove that you’ve already taken on some additional accountability, or gained some relevant leadership experience. This could relate to planning staffing models, or stepping-up in the absence of your current supervisor.
Not only will you need to have gained significant on-site responsibility, you’ll also need to be appropriately qualified. To successfully apply, you’ll need to have passed an NVQ/SVQ (Scotland) course to grade level 3 or above. This qualification should be geared around your trade or discipline, and ideally include on-site supervision. For example, if you work within the housing sector, you may take the Level 4 Construction Site Supervision- Residential Development course. Further, relevant qualifications can be found here (please scroll down to the higher-graded NVQs on this page).
Successfully passing one of these courses is proof that you’ve managed to develop two key competencies. One is the capability to lead a team, and the other is an awareness of the theoretical and practical elements of your trade. In advanced-level NVQ qualifications, both of these areas are given appropriate focus and attention.
A supervisor must be able to organise, motivate, and empower workforces to deliver business activity. Furthermore, heading up a team can often involve managing challenging and complex personalities.
Having a solid understanding of the technical nature of a task makes it so much easier to engage others on its function and importance. Moreover, if you can execute a task that you’re asking others to deliver yourself, this tends to grow confidence and respect in you as a leader. That’s why many suggest the best way to progress is to experience each job role first before subsequently stepping up to the next level. Sometimes, but not always, individuals who join businesses at a higher entry-point can find it initially difficult to adjust or get their message across.
If you’ve not yet tackled an NVQ Level 3+ course, please do not apply for this card. This is a non-negotiable stipulation, and any applicants who do not hold a suitable qualification will be automatically rejected.
The CITB Test
In addition to passing your construction-related NVQ, you’ll also need to navigate an appropriate CITB Health, Safety, and Environment Test. The CITB, or Construction Industry Training Board, is the parent organisation of the CSCS. Given their close partnership, these separate bodies are sometimes referred to interchangeably. The CITB supports industry stakeholders to drive trade standards, learn new skills, and understand more about their trade. Through this work, the organisation has established itself as a highly-recognised and respected body within the construction sector. Therefore, the various assessment criteria they create are accepted across the industry as legitimate measures of an individual’s capability level.
The tests are used to examine a person’s awareness of on-site health and safety considerations. There are three different categories of assessment, and are taken dependent on which card you’ve applied for. These are the Operatives, Specialists, and Managers and Professionals tests. If you’re applying for the supervisor card scheme, you’ll be required to sit the Specialists test. The Operatives exam is pitched at members of the general workforce. Conversely, the Managers and Professionals assessment, as its title suggests, is reserved for current or prospective managers.
Within the specialist test bracket, there is a list of various focus areas. Those applying for the supervisor card must answer questions on the ‘Supervision’ element of these listed subjects. Given that supervisors are held to a higher level of accountability than regular workers, the specialist test is suitably more complex than the operative version. The manager and professional’s assessment includes all core components of the operative exam, and also each of the topics mentioned within the specialist category. Therefore, the specialist variant is regarded as the second most difficult (or second easiest, dependent on your take!) of this series of CITB testing.
Please be aware that you must pass this exam in order to earn your certificate. Furthermore, the test must have been taken within the two years prior to the date of your application. The examination is in multiple-choice format, and consists of 50 questions. The required pass mark is high, at 94%. Therefore, you’ll need to answer 47 out of the 50 questions correctly in order to get through this exam.
Once I receive my CSCS Supervisor Card, what tasks will I be expected to deliver in my role as Supervisor?
As you’ve already probably worked out, supervisors are of critical importance to the running of construction sites. The nature of your role may depend on the size of the business you work for, or the scale of the project you’re currently involved with. In some cases, you may be part of a larger network of supervisors. In others, you might operate far more independently, and therefore assume greater accountability in your work.
Nevertheless, regardless of the specifics of your working environment, the key elements of the job role remain the same. Supervisors are in place to ensure that tasks are completed by the right people, in the right place, at the right time. Moreover, they are partially accountable, along with the rest of the site leadership team, to ensure these works are being delivered in compliance with safety regulations. To ensure that these objectives are achieved, supervisors will conduct regular checks and inspections on personnel, equipment, and building materials.
Management: relationship and progression
Supervisors will likely report directly into a member of the management team. It is the manager’s responsibility to support the supervisor in their role. This will include communicating the business’ direction, providing information on project plans, and offering advice on any on-site issues. In the absence of a duty manager, supervisors should naturally assume the role of site leader.
If you’re keen to progress into a managerial position, the more experience you have in managing the various elements of the on-site operation, the better prepared you’ll be to apply for senior roles. Therefore, as per our discussion in relation to the step-up from general worker to supervisor, it’s worth looking for opportunities that will allow you to sample life as a manager. Again, this could be in the form of taking on more accountability, or perhaps covering a holiday period for a member of the management team.
The supervisor role is challenging. You’ll have to balance the expectations of your immediate team, with the pressures coming down from senior management. However, due to its fast pace and ever-changing conditions, it’s also a hugely enjoyable and rewarding position. Furthermore, supervisors are often financially well compensated for the work they do.
How can I consolidate my position as a high-performing Supervisor?
Clearly, the best way to develop in any given role is to continue to learn and develop within it. You can do this by shadowing current supervisors or managers you respect, or by asking for feedback and advice.
However, you’ll also be able to cultivate your knowledge and skillset further by attending additional courses. One of these qualifications, the CITB Site Supervision Safety Training Scheme (SSSTS), is a particular popular choice. It is also highly regarded by many construction companies, with many encouraging relevant team members to attend.
The CITB Site Supervision Safety Training Scheme (SSSTS)
This qualification, once again sponsored by the Construction Industry Training Board, is part of the CITB’s Site Safety Plus suite of courses. It is not compulsory for you to complete this learning module in order to acquire your gold CSCS supervisor card. However, this certificate will always look impressive on CVs, and make you a more appealing candidate for future supervisory positions.
Furthermore, supervisors should always take a proactive stance toward learning, and be receptive towards improved ways of working. This will help them to run efficient, effective, and, most importantly, safe working environments.
Please note that this course is exclusively for supervisors already in-role. Therefore, please do not apply for this course if this is not your current occupation.
What will I learn in the course?
This is a two-day course, which invites delegates to look in further detail at health & safety practices and legislation. The key areas of focus are as follows:
- How to compile accurate risk assessments, accounting for all possible hazards and threats. You’ll also focus on how to use these in order to design method statements, which support the compliant delivery of tasks.
- Gaining a strong awareness of health & safety regulatory guidance. You’ll also learn how to practically apply this knowledge whilst undertaking construction-related activities.
- Gaining a better understanding of how supervisors drive the health & safety agenda on-site. As a consequence, you’ll also gain an awareness of why their role is so critical in protecting and promoting the welfare of colleagues.
Therefore, undertaking this qualification will not only enable supervisors to appreciate the importance of their work, but also allow them to appreciate the more advanced elements of on-site safety and compliance.
At the conclusion of your course, you’ll need to pass a short, 30-minute multiple choice test, and conduct a trainer-reviewed case study exercise. You’ll need to pass both assessments in order to receive your certificate.
Please note that this qualification is only valid for five years. Before your SSSTS certificate expires, you’ll need to attend the Site Supervision Safety Training Scheme- Refresher (SSSTS-R) course. This has a condensed, one-day framework, and discusses the headline topics from the original qualification. It will also touch on any new information that has emerged through industry practice in the interim period between your courses. If you fail to complete the refresher, and its resultant examination, prior to the expiry of your certificate, you would need to complete the full SSSTS course again in order to retain this qualification.
How do I apply for a Supervisor CSCS Card?
The most efficient way to apply for any card is through the CSCS’ online application service. You can access this by signing up for a personal CSCS account, via the following link. After your registration has been processed, you’ll be able to use your account to follow live applications, keep track of previous cards you’ve held, and check out expiry dates on current cards. This system is also open to businesses, coming in particularly useful when making multiple card applications on behalf of employees. To do this, they’ll need to complete the online Employer Application Form, which is available after registering for an ‘Employer’ account.
If you’d prefer to use a more old-fashioned method, you can also submit your card application by phone. To do this, please call the CSCS directly on 0344 944 4777, and speak with an advisor. If you’re phoning on behalf of a colleague or family member, please note that they’ll need to provide their consent for you to progress their application. Furthermore, you’ll need to state either the applicant’s CSCS registration or national insurance number. These measures have been put in place for security purposes, and to protect the integrity of the application process. You can also email any queries you may have, whether in relation to card applications or otherwise, to email@example.com
Lost, stolen or damaged cards can be reported via either of the aforementioned methods. If communicating via telephone, please call the same number mentioned above.
How long is the CSCS Supervisor valid for?
The supervisor card has a five-year validation period. You’ll have a twelve-month window (six months before and after the expiry date), in order to submit your application for a new card. If you miss this deadline, you risk having to re-apply to the scheme from scratch. In similarity to your initial application, you can renew your card via your personal online account, or by contacting the CSCS by phone.
Please note that to qualify for a renewal, you must keep your CITB test pass in date. Therefore, you must have sat this exam within the two years prior to the date you submit your renewal application.
How much does a CSCS Supervisor Card Cost?
All CSCS cards are priced at £36.00. The CITB Health, Safety and Environment Test is charged at £21.00, however this price is only guaranteed when booking directly through the Construction Industry Training Board. If you’re conducting the test through a private learning provider, please be aware that they may add a supplementary fee to book the assessment on your behalf. However, they may also offer an additional benefit as part of this package. Therefore, please review whether you require this add-on, and decide whether it’s more favourable to organise your test independently.
If you’re a little way off applying for a gold card, you may still need to tackle the relevant NVQ qualifications. Please be aware that this can be an expensive undertaking, with a significant cost attached to each required course. Before commencing your training journey, it’s worth understanding whether you’re in a position to take on this financial burden. Stopping halfway through your studies will inevitably result in a waste of time, effort, and money. However, if you are a little concerned about the financial aspect, it’s worth checking out potential funding options. Your employer may receive money from the government to support staff training efforts. Alternatively, you may be eligible for your own personal government grant or bursary.
As we’ve seen, the gold supervisor card scheme plays an important role in the construction industry. If you’re in possession of this card, you’ll be able to confidently apply for supervisory positions. You’ll also be able to demonstrate the skill set and capabilities required of a member of the on-site leadership team.
Remember, you’ll need to pass the CITB Health, Safety and Environment Specialists assessment in order to successfully apply for the card. Remember, it may also be worth bolstering your safety compliance training via the SSSTS course.
Please familiarise yourself with the aforementioned application process, as this will enable you to efficiently acquire your card when ready. If you haven’t as yet hit the qualifying criteria, ensure you’re in a secure financial position to execute your long-term training plan, whether that be through personal funding or employer/government support. However, it’s highly likely that if you’re on the cusp of applying for a supervisor card, you’ll have already navigated the relevant courses.
Lastly, we wish you the best of luck in your CSCS supervisor card application, and hope that gaining ownership of the card helps you in your onward career journey!