- 1 Validation periods
- 2 CSCS Cards – the detail
- 3 Qualified Cards
- 4 How do I renew my CSCS card?
- 5 Summary
There is a range of different CSCS card schemes available, targeted at those operating in various trades and occupations. Each card is categorised by colour, which helps to effectively identify a worker’s credentials on any given construction site. Given that the CSCS, or Construction Skills Certification Scheme, is an industry-approved skills programme, ownership of a card confirms that you have been suitably trained to execute a particular job role or discipline.
It is not a legal requirement to own a CSCS card in order to gain access to a building or construction site. However, most employers will demand that you do hold a card, and that it’s relevant to the role you perform in the workplace.
All cards, regardless of grade or colour, come with a set validation period. When this timeframe has expired, your card will become invalid. Below, we focus on the differing expiration lengths attached to each card scheme, and provide instructions on how to renew your membership.
Note that when you re-apply for any card scheme, you’ll need to be aware of its renewal qualifying criteria. At the very least, this will include successfully passing a relevant CITB Health, Safety, and Environment test. This is a compliance-based assessment designed specifically for those who work in construction environments.
Regardless of whether you’re submitting an original or renewal application, you must have passed an appropriate CITB assessment within the two years prior to your application date. There are three CITB Health, Safety and Environment tests available. The one you’ll need to take is directly dependent on the particular card scheme you’re applying for.
CSCS Cards – the detail
So, let’s now review a little about each CSCS card, and how long their respective validation periods last for.
Red CSCS Cards
This card programme is exclusively targeted at those engaging in training activities. There are five different types of red CSCS card available, each targeted at individuals who are at varying stages of their learning journey.
As previously mentioned, training cards are not renewable. This is because the CSCS deems that the validation period attached to each of these cards, is sufficiently long enough to gain the required level of experience, and complete the necessary qualifications, in order to progress onto a higher graded card scheme. As you’ll now be fully qualified in your chosen field, there is clearly no longer a need to be affiliated with that particular training card. Therefore, holding your red card becomes an irrelevance.
As we’ll see, the validity length of red cards differs between each scheme. Therefore, it’s vitally important that you know the expiry date of your specific card, and ensure training plans have been scheduled accordingly.
Ultimately, if you do not complete the required training within your card’s validation period, you’ll need to opt for a different route to progress your career. This could perhaps be done by utilising an alternative red card scheme. However, this is an unlikely scenario. So, don’t panic! The timeframes provided by the CSCS generally far exceed the actual time you’ll need to finish your studies. Therefore, even if you hit a delay, or struggle with certain elements, it’s still very likely you’ll be able to gain the required qualifications in time.
Different types of red CSCS cards
The five available red cards are described below:
Provisional CSCS Card
This particular scheme is targeted at workers with limited or no experience in the construction industry. The card is primarily used as a pass to gain access to site. Its main function is to allow new workers to sample a construction-based workplace environment. This enables them to assess whether pursuing a full-time career in the building sector is a desirable option. Given the purpose of this scheme, your provisional card will expire six months from the point of approval. This is the shortest validation period attached to any CSCS card.
Trainee CSCS Card
If you’re also just entering the industry, but have already signed up for a vocational or academic training course, then it’s likely the trainee card is the most suitable for you. This card is valid for five years.
Apprentice CSCS Card
As per its title, this card is pitched at those participating in apprenticeship programmes. Most apprentices complete their schemes within two to three years. Therefore, this card’s five-year validity length provides more than enough time to gain the required certification.
Experienced Worker CSCS Card
This card is appropriate for those who have worked in a construction-related occupation for a considerable period of time, but are also currently undertaking an NVQ/SVQ (Scotland) Level 2 course. The card lasts for twelve months, which should provide enough space to earn your qualification.
Experienced Technical, Supervisor, or Manager Card
Again, this scheme is targeted at workers who have already a reasonable level of experience within the building industry. However, this specific card is aimed at those who will be progressing towards highly technical or on-site leadership roles. Holders of this card must be enrolled on an NVQ Level 3 course. This card is valid for three years.
Please note that in some circumstances, the CSCS may be able to extend the validity period of your red CSCS card. However, this will be assessed on a case-by-case basis. Therefore, if you feel you may need more time on a particular scheme, please contact the CSCS directly and explain your personal situation.
In all cases below, cardholders will have undertaken the necessary training and experience to become fully qualified in their respective fields.
- Green CSCS Card – This scheme is pitched at labourers, who are tasked to transport building materials and equipment around construction sites. This card is renewable, and valid for a five-year timeframe.
- Blue CSCS Card – In the industry, this card is often referred to as the ‘skilled worker’ card. It shows that the holder can diligently and compliantly operate in their particular trade. Its accompanying validation period is five years, and membership can be renewed upon expiry.
- Gold CSCS Card(s) – There are two types of gold card available; the ‘supervisor’ card, and the ‘advanced craft’ card. The former is targeted at current or prospective on-site supervisors, and the latter is reserved for those who have developed a high level of technical skill in their area of expertise. Both of these cards are renewable, and also have five-year validation terms.
- Black CSCS Card- This is also known as the ‘manager’s card’. This is held by members of the on-site management team, and a business’ senior leadership personnel. You’ll be able to re-apply for this card when your membership expires after five years.
White CSCS Card(s)
The white card programme is a little different, and sits somewhere between red training cards, and the ‘fully-qualified’ schemes listed above. This is because those in possession of white cards are ultimately operating in a training capacity. However, they will have already accrued substantial skills and knowledge in a closely-related field. This means that white cards, like red cards, are deployed as a stop-gap measure until the relevant learning modules have been completed, and the right amount of experience has been acquired.
Therefore, as per the red CSCS scheme, it would not be suitable for white card holders to renew their membership after their training has been finalised.
There are two different types of white card available. The Professionally Qualified People’s (PQP) Card is available to those who are affiliated with a professional industry body, and who are present on the CSCS’ approved list of organisations. The Academically Qualified People’s Card (AQP) is reserved for individuals who have already secured an advanced qualification in further education. This could be an HND, HNC, NEBOSH Diploma, or university degree.
How do I renew my CSCS card?
The renewal process can be accessed via the same channels you used for your original application. For those not yet part of the CSCS programme, please note that there are two ways to apply for a card.
The most efficient method, whether in relation to an initial application or renewal, is via the CSCS’ online application service. You can register for this here. Alternatively, the CSCS understands that you may feel more comfortable speaking to a human being when submitting your personal details. If this is preferable, please contact the organisation on 0344 994 4777, and follow the instructions given by the advisor.
We hope that you’re now much clearer on the validation periods accompanying each of the available CSCS cards. Remember, it’s integral that you keep your card valid. To do this, ensure you frequently check your card’s expiry date, and position yourself to address all of the card’s renewal qualification criteria in time for your re-application.
As we’ve seen, the vast majority of cards come equipped with five-year validity terms. However, this is not a standardised approach. The expiry of red cards is clearly dependent on what type of card is in operation. Therefore, if you’re currently in training, you should ensure you’re fully aware of your card’s validation period, and that you’re confident you can complete the required training within this timeframe.
If you’re unsure what card is the right fit for you, it might be worth checking out the CSCS’ Card Finder Tool. This enables you to hone in on the card most appropriate to your skills and experience. Alternatively, you may feel it beneficial to discuss your card options with your course tutor, or a trained industry professional.
Lastly, if you’ve located this article because you think card is approaching its expiry date, we hope that you’ll be able to efficiently acquire your replacement card in the very near future!