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29Apr93 UK: BOSSES AND UNIONS SET TO GIVE NOD TO SKILLS REGISTER - CONSTRUCTION.

By Grant Prior.Employers and unions are poised to give the green light to a skills registration scheme for construction workers.A consultation paper is being circulated throughout the industry and its backers hope to have the programme running by the end of next year.Under the scheme, workers would carry a signed smart card with their photograph. Computer records of their skills, training and qualifications would be kept on file for easy reference.Members of the Construction Industry Working Party have been drawing up the plans for more than a year since the debate began under the auspices of the defunct National Economic Development Office.Party member Stephen Moon, industrial relations director at the Building Employers Confederation, said: 'At the moment, this now looks likely to go ahead.'The bigger question is what the industry makes of it, and whether it becomes widely recognised on site.'Registration schemes already operate for electricians, plumbers, plant operatives and engineering construction workers.Unions and employers will also vote on who will run the register - the Construction Industry Training Board or the Building and Civil Engineering Holidays Scheme.The scheme will recognise all leading qualifications in the industry and references from former employees for those not formally qualified.It is open to the self-employed and there will be monitoring of information, backed up by an appeals procedure for those who have their cards suspended.Members of the wood trades will be the first phase of the registration in 1994 and it is expected to cost £10 to £25 a worker.A spokesman for construction union UCATT said: 'A skills record will benefit all operatives because the emphasis will be on employing trained workers.' CONSTRUCTION NEWS