I CONTINUE to read with interest the discussions regarding the new CSCS certificates, and particularly your lead story of November 25.
It seems to me that those push-ing this scheme as an immediate answer to improving quality are not living in the real world.
There are just not sufficient members in the scheme to allow all clients to insist that their contractors only employ CSCS card holders. Why is this?
I have tried on three separate occasions over the life of the scheme, starting at the grand- father rights stage, to persuade our employees to apply for membership. Less than 10 per cent have become members. With the current skills shortage, we are surely not in a position to insist that people join the scheme.
Is it any wonder the take-up is so low? We are asking tradesmen, many in their mid-50s, who served a six-year apprenticeship, obtained an Advanced Craft Certificate and practised their trade for more than 30 years, to be re-tested to see if they qualify for full membership to the scheme.
Contrast this with our current apprentices who, with only three years of training and an NVQ level 2, will qualify for a CSCS card. Clients that insist on a full workforce of CSCS members will end up with mainly young and inexperienced tradesmen.
The answer to improving quality is to tackle the real problem of low numbers and low standard of school-leavers taking up apprenticeships.
But this requires altering the policies of schools, where the emphasis seems to lie on how many pupils can be enrolled into full-time further education, however meaningless the course, and not into real jobs.
The CITB and employers must make a concerted effort to raise the numbers and standards of apprentices. I believe my company is playing its part by training apprentices - but what are other employers doing?