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Construction Skills Certification Schemes not all gloom and doom

Sir,

The article appearing in Construction News on February 15 Register snubbed by skilled workers paints rather a gloomy picture of the Construction Skills Certification Scheme, and it roundly criticises industry for not adopting it.

In particularly, it says that bricklayers, roofers and piling workers feature among the workers registered so far, but other trades are reluctant to come forward.

An examination of the scheme booklet will show that when the scheme began on April 3, 1995, five operative groups were covered: bricklayers; painters and decorators; partitioning fixers; piling operatives; and roof slaters and tilers.

These were to be joined on October 1 last year by bench joiners, carpenters and joiners, shopfitters, and wood machinists. The third group commences in April 1996.

For your information, these are now agreed to be ceiling fixers, floorlayers, sheeters and cladders, single-ply roofers, dry liners, stone masons, plasterers, industrial painters, mason paviors, plant mechanics, steel fixers, construction operatives, road building operatives and possibly drain layers, so you will understand other trades could not come forward.

It was difficult for the board to target employers and encourage them to specify the scheme when there were inadequate trades available to cover the majority of the construction process, and we had therefore not anticipated any substantial uptake in the scheme until the Group 3 occupations were published in April.

Furthermore, the scheme itself requires those joining it to have one day of safety training. The employee has to provide a photo- graph and the employer has to check that the employee has the necessary competencies. This takes time, particularly with a mobile workforce. Our own experience is that typically it takes four months.

It is interesting to note that over 5,000 people have applied to attend the one-day safety training courses these are not, as your article suggested, simply inquiries.

It is not an unreasonable assumption to believe that these individuals are effectively applicants in the pipeline but even if that were not so, the take-up rate reflects entirely the previous experience of the CTA Scheme.

That is now adjudged a major success, having 300,000 operatives registered.

This scheme was devised by industry, for industry. It arose from work in the Construction Industry Employers Council and enjoys universal support.

We do not believe that the bulk of the take-up for the scheme will be achieved by direct representation to operatives. It will be a matter for employers and their clients.

The scheme fits well into

the recommendations of Sir Michael Lathams report, Constructing the Team, and the

recommendations of the subsequent working groups.

It is particularly beneficial to employers who have broad responsibilities under the CDM Regulations to take measures to ensure safe sites.

Our intention is to mount a marketing campaign when the Group 3 operative skills are in place, aimed at the principal employers and clients.

We have not, as you stated, mounted an expensive advertising campaign. We are confident that the self-evidential benefits of this scheme will ensure substantial support during 1996, if for no other reason than clients demands for improved quality and safety, which this scheme can help to deliver.

I hope that this puts the matter in context. Its not all the gloom and doom your article might suggest in fact, the reverse is true.

A W Merricks

Chairman

Construction Skills

Certification Scheme

Haywards Heath

West Sussex