- 1 What is a CSCS Gold Card?
- 2 The CSCS
- 3 Site Supervisor CSCS Card
- 4 Career progression
- 5 Gold CSCS Card Requirements
- 6 Gold CSCS Card NVQs
- 7 The CITB Test
- 8 The CITB Site Supervision Safety Training Scheme (SSSTS)
- 9 Advanced Craft CSCS Card
- 10 Different pathways
- 11 How much does a CSCS Gold Card cost?
- 12 How do I apply for a CSCS Gold Card?
- 13 CSCS Gold Card Renewal
- 14 Summary
A gold CSCS card is held by an individual who has undertaken further qualifications and training in a construction-related discipline, which focuses on either leadership or highly-technical practices. Therefore, those in possession of gold cards assume a more senior position on construction and building sites.
There are two different types of gold CSCS cards available; the site supervisor card, and the advanced craft card. Each card has different qualifying criteria, and, in the case of the advanced craft card, is used by workers operating in a variety of different roles.
Before discussing the detail around the gold card scheme, it’s perhaps worth quickly noting what the CSCS is.
The CSCS, or the Construction Skills Certification Scheme, is an essential programme that serves to easily clarify the role and function of workers in construction environments. Although integral to the industry, please note that it is not a legal necessity to be in possession of a card in order to gain access to a building site. However, most employers will make this a compulsory requirement. This is because the scheme provides a swift, reliable way of understanding an individual’s skill set and experience. Indeed, it allows site leadership teams to easily identify specific workers for specific tasks.
There are a variety of different CSCS cards available, which are differentiated by colour. Each colour represents either the holder’s occupation, training status, or level of seniority.
This article focuses on the two different types of gold CSCS card. We’ll discuss what types of workers typically apply for this programme, the application process itself, and the scheme’s associated costs.
If considering applying for a gold CSCS card, we would highly recommend taking some time to ensure that it is the correct scheme for you. Please note that the CSCS offers a handy, online guide to each of their card programmes.
Site Supervisor CSCS Card
Ownership of the supervisor card demonstrates that you’re fully qualified to occupy the role of site supervisor. In this position, you would be accountable for delivering the day-to-day operation of a construction site. It’s worth noting that the vast majority of employers will expect you to have already attained this card if you’re applying for a supervisory position.
As already mentioned, site supervisors play a critical on-site role. Their job remit will vary dependent on trade, experience, and business size. However, their general duties will always remain fairly consistent. In essence, supervisors are accountable for delivering the day-to-day operation of a construction site. Moreover, they must ensure that all works are executed compliantly and in accordance with safety legislation. In order to do this, supervisors will routinely conduct observations, checks, and inspections. The subjects of these audits will vary between workers, materials, equipment, and any building works already completed.
Site supervisors will almost universally report to someone with managerial status. This manager will support the supervisor to operate the site, and provide direction, focus, and a set of objectives to deliver.
A supervisor’s level of responsibility is dependent on the on-site leadership structure. On sizeable building sites, there may be multiple supervisors to support a vast and complex operation. Alternatively, in smaller environments, supervisors may enjoy a substantial level of accountability.
Therefore, supervisor positions are often seen as being interchangeable with duty manager roles. Indeed, in the absence of a site manager or senior leadership figure, the expectation is that a supervisor would step-up in the interim. This dynamic contributes to those in supervisory positions holding varying job titles, which are contingent on the nature of their work, and their workplaces. Some examples include shift manager, section manager, foreman, or area coordinator.
The road to becoming a site supervisor can be at times challenging. However, if you manage to navigate this route, supervisor roles can be extremely rewarding. Many of these positions offer competitive pay and benefits packages. Given the fast-paced and focused nature of the work, they also facilitate high job satisfaction levels.
Furthermore, becoming a site supervisor is the first logical step toward advancing into senior management. Undertaking a supervisory position will enable you to develop your leadership skills, and learn how to effectively communicate with a team. Indeed, having experience in this type of role will always look impressive on a job application, regardless of the occupation or industry you’re targeting.
Most of those who eventually become supervisors will have been introduced into their respective trade at a low-grade entry-point. This would usually be as a trainee, but could also for example be in the capacity of a labourer, electrician’s mate, or bricklayer. In similarity to the process mentioned above (in the context of moving upwards from supervisor to manager), experiencing the key tasks of those you’ll eventually lead is always useful. Therefore, entering at a fairly basic level, before steadily progressing through each job role, is often seen as the most sensible pathway towards becoming a supervisor.
As you start to move towards the latter stages of this journey, it’s worth starting to prepare for your gold card application. This will enable you to continue your career journey when ready for the step up. Otherwise, you may risk missing out on a progressive opportunity.
Gold CSCS Card Requirements
Only those who have completed a construction-related NVQ/SVQ (Scotland) level 3, 4 or 5 qualification are eligible to apply for this card. It’s also preferred that you already have some level of supervisory experience.
However, as you’ll most likely need a gold card to become a supervisor in the first place, time spent shadowing a current supervisor, or performing some sort of holiday cover role, would be deemed as a suitable method to demonstrate this.
Gold CSCS Card NVQs
Acquiring an NVQ demonstrates that you’ve reached a suitable level of technical and safety knowledge in your field in order to lead a team of workers. These qualifications ensure that candidates are given exposure to the key practical and theoretical elements of their discipline. All trade-specific NVQ assess whether you can compliantly perform all associated tasks and duties related to that particular discipline.
Furthermore, it tests technical understanding via a series of classroom-based and on-site assessments. This results in NVQ programmes producing competent individuals, suitably well-versed in their area of expertise.
Clearly, it’s highly preferable that if you’re targeting a supervisory position, you take an NVQ which directly addresses the leadership aspect, and corresponds to your trade. This can be achieved via a number of available NVQ courses. For example, those aiming to become a supervisor at a building and civil engineering firm, would most benefit from attending a NVQ Level 4 in Construction Site Supervision- Building and Civil Engineering.
Further relevant qualifications can be found towards the end of the right-hand column of the following page.
The CITB Test
As well as passing an appropriately graded NVQ course, you’ll also need to have successfully completed a CITB Health, Safety and Environment test. The CITB, or Construction Industry Trading Board, is a body empowered to implement testing criteria and certification across the building sector. The organisation also supports industry stakeholder learning and development. It does this by providing training tools and resources to craft trade students, employees, and employers.
The CIBT test for supervisors differs from the more basic assessment taken by general workforce members. As the expectation level for supervisors is higher, the exam suitably contains more complex questions.
Nevertheless, as per the simpler version, the exam is still relatively short, and in multiple-choice format. This test must have been passed within two years of the date of your gold card application.
The Site Supervisor CSCS Gold Card is valid for five years, based on the assumption that holders maintain a valid, up-to-date, CIBT Health, Safety and Environment test certificate.
The CITB Site Supervision Safety Training Scheme (SSSTS)
Although it is not compulsory to attend an SSSTS course in order to receive a gold card, many employers will expect their supervisors to have completed this health and safety module.
Successfully addressing this qualification will better equip you for life as a site supervisor, strengthening your understanding of critical safety procedures. By holding a supervisory role, you’re partially accountable for protecting and promoting the welfare of colleagues on site.
Therefore, it’s critical that you take a proactive approach towards learning relevant due diligence procedures. Gaining an SSSTS certificate will serve to support you in this endeavour.
This two-day course is specifically targeted at those currently in, or progressing towards, a site supervisor position. It upskills delegates on how to:
- Compliantly execute risk assessments and subsequently compile method statements on the back of findings.
- Understand the role of health & safety legislation and guidance within the context of building and construction sites
- Understand the role of site supervisor within the wider context of on-site leadership frameworks.
This is an industry-recognized course which will help consolidate your reputation as a high-performing site supervisor. Please be aware that this certification elapses after five years, at which point you’ll need to undertake the SSSTS refresher course (SSSTS-R).
Advanced Craft CSCS Card
The alternative gold scheme is the advanced craft card. This card is awarded to applicants who have taken a level 3 NVQ or higher in their chosen trade discipline. The advanced craft card is a marker of excellence within a specific field. It demonstrates a high level of technical capability, knowledge, and experience.
Taking a level 3-graded NVQ in any trade is a challenging prospect. It demands significant time, effort, and skill to successfully navigate its modules. Therefore, advanced craft cardholders enjoy a respected position within all building and construction environments.
However, this does not mean that they necessarily assume the same level of responsibility as site supervisors, who have a more fixed position of on-site seniority. You’ll usually be able to distinguish between an advanced craft and site supervisor personnel by the respective qualifications they’ve undertaken.
Those in possession of an advanced craft card will more likely hone on a specific technical element of their field, and not select a course with a supervision-focused element.
Several examples of typical Level 3 NVQs taken by advanced craft card applicants are listed below:
- Decorative Finishing & Industrial- Painting and Decorating – Level 3 NVQ
- Plant Maintenance (Construction) – Level 3 NVQ
- Roofing Occupations – Level 3 NVQ
Nevertheless, there are two alternative routes available for those applying to the advanced craft scheme.
Any individual who has passed a construction-related apprenticeship is automatically eligible to apply. However, this must have been a programme approved by an industry-recognized professional body. For example, this could be an apprenticeship endorsed by the National Joint Council for the Building Industry (NJCBI), or the Build and Allied Trades Joint Industry Council (BATJIC).
Those in ownership of City & Guilds London Institute of Advanced Craft certificate are also able to apply without having attained an NVQ Level 3.
As per the site supervisor gold card, you must also pass the same level CITB health and safety test. Again, you’ll have gained your CITB certification within the two years directly preceding your application date.
How much does a CSCS Gold Card cost?
Gold cards cost £36.00 to purchase, with the mandatory CIBT H&S and Environment test priced at £21.00.
Please be aware that if you’re undertaking training through a learning provider, they may charge an additional fee to book the CIBT assessment on your behalf. If so, it’s worth checking whether they’re offering any extra support or benefits as a consequence of this added cost. If they aren’t, then we would encourage you to book the test independently. This will guarantee that you receive at the £21.00 price.
Please also factor in any additional required costs relating to your general learning and development. If you’ve not already navigated through an appropriate NVQ course, then sitting these qualifications will clearly incur added expenditure. Apprentices are automatically sponsored to undertake these programmes by their employers (often back by governmental financial support schemes). Therefore, if you’ve previously been an apprentice, you should have already acquired the NVQ certificates needed to progress onto a gold card (as touched upon earlier).
However, if you’re new to the construction industry, or currently in training, it’s worth reviewing your upcoming financial outlay. Training courses can be expensive, so it’s important you’re comfortable taking on this significant cost. Nevertheless, you may be eligible for means-tested funding support, given to you via a grant or bursary.
The City and Guilds is one example of an organisation who be able to offer you this option. Whatever path you take, please ensure you’re in a position to fund your full training programme, from start to finish. Exiting halfway through your studies will clearly waste significant time and money.
How do I apply for a CSCS Gold Card?
The most efficient way to apply for any gold card is via the CSCS’ online application service. This can be accessed by registering for a personal CSCS account. To do this, please just follow the simple instructions embedded in this link.
After your registration has been approved, you’ll be able to use your online portal to view your personal card information. This will include having visibility on previously held cards, your current card’s expiry date, and any progress on live applications. The CSCS’ online service is also open to employers. This comes in extremely useful when applying for cards on behalf of multiple employees! This process should be completed by using the Employer Application Form, which will be available after registering for an ‘Employer’ account.
The old-fashioned way
However, there is also the option of calling the CSCS directly to make your application. This can be done by contacting the organisation on 0344 944 4777, and speaking to an advisor. Please be aware that if you’re lodging an application for a friend or colleague, the candidate must be present to confirm that they consent to your involvement in the application process. You’ll also need the applicant’s CSCS registration or national insurance number to hand. These two measures are put in place for security purposes.
If you’ve lost or damaged your gold card, or unfortunately had it stolen, you can report this either through your online account, or calling the CSCS on the same number provided above.
CSCS Gold Card Renewal
As previously mentioned, both gold cards are valid for five years. If you want to renew your membership to the scheme, you’ll need to apply within a twelve-month window, positioned six months before and after your card’s expiration date. However, we would encourage you to apply for your new card as early as physically possible.
If you don’t manage to submit your application within this timeframe, you could risk losing your membership for an extended period of time. As per the initial application process, you can renew your card both online and over the phone.
Owning either of the available gold cards identifies you as a highly capable tradesperson. You’ll be empowered to deliver expert craft work, or diligently oversee the operation of a construction site.
A site supervisor card is also a useful tool for realising more senior roles, as it demonstrates your ability to lead and manage a team. For advanced craft card holders, the scheme acts as validation of a particular technical skill set. This will undoubtedly open up future exciting job opportunities in your chosen field.
Remember, it’s vitally important that you select the right CSCS card scheme, and understand the potential costs attached to your application. If you’re considering applying for this card soon, it’s highly likely that you’ll have already engaged in some substantial training. If not, you must be prepared to pay some significant fees in order to navigate the required NVQ(s). Furthermore, you must ensure you hold a valid CIBT Health, Safety, and Environment test certificate.
Finally, please also ensure you familiarise yourself with the card application procedure. This will ensure you acquire the correct card in a timely manner.
If you require any additional information on gold cards or the function of the CSCS, please liaise with a course tutor, or trusted industry professional. Alternatively, you may wish to visit the official CSCS website for further support.
Lastly, we wish you the best of luck in attaining your CSCS Gold Card! Acquiring this card will hopefully help you towards realising a rewarding and fulfilling career in the construction industry.