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Determined to make CSCS work

LETTERS

Sir, Letters in recent weeks about the CSCS skills scheme have left the impression of a bureaucracy in chaos ('Specialist CSCS is in a poor state', September 14).

The British Drilling Association is committed to a fully qualified workforce.

We closed our compe tence assessment scheme in 2004 in favour of operatives obtaining NVQ Land Drilling, blue CSCS skilled cards and post-qualification auditing.

We had to cope with a lack of assessors, costs - which are higher in the specialist trades - bureaucratic inefficiency and a variable approach from verifiers.

But, through dogged commitment and the full support of CITB-ConstructionSkills's National Specialist Office, we have now got fully workable NVQ.

Our member companies and individual operatives are seeing and grasping the benefits of the process, although initially it was a hard sell.

Many of the past statements have been inaccurate. Terms such as 'CSCS examinations' are misleading.

CSCS does not examine anyone. It purely inspects and approves applications provided that card requirements are met.

The health and safety test is a CITB responsibility. Profiling and NVQ assessment is done by an NVQ assessor working for an NVQ centre.

There is clear blue water between CSCS and CITB - they are separately governed bodies, with CITB cont racted to CSCS.

The late George Brumwell, when chairman of CSCS, recognised that it had to get its act together after phenomenal growth.

This year CSCS has appointed a new chairman and chief executive and recently gave an updated cont ract to CITB.

Let us help CSCS eradicate many of the remaining problems and works with both it and CITB on recognising and rewarding skill, getting rid of bad practices and poor safety and recruiting and training the workers we need for tomorrow.

The BDA's experience is that early engagement by the trade federations in new processes, matched by determination, involvement, understanding and co-operation on all sides will succeed - although the cage has to be rattled hard at times.

Brian Stringer British Drilling Association national secretary Daventry Northamptonshire