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How we assess specialist trades at the National Construction College

LETTERS

Sir, I would like to make a number of points in response to the article headed 'Quit threat on cards' and the letter 'CSCS makes apprentices learn dangerous practices' (Construction News, August 3) The National Construction College is the only assessment centre in the country that caters for steeplejacks and lightning protection engineers.

After looking at demand for the National Vocational Qualification (currently between 60 and 70 people each year) we appealed to the industry to help us recruit assessors - who must have a high level of industry experience and knowledge.

To enable workers to get on site while we set up an assessment infrastructure, and in conjunction with Atlas and CSCS, we introduced a 12month temporary CSCS card to allow workers to get on site.

During this time we established our specialist assessment team, which will begin profiling and assessment next month.

The costs involved are to pay for the assessment of the NVQ qualification. This requires an assessor to make up to three separate visits to anywhere in the UK to profile and assess each worker. Because so few people are taking the NVQ each year, it is not possible to make the cost efficiencies we can achieve on other courses.

CITB-ConstructionSkills is investigating external funding sources, which may help with the cost of the NVQ assessment in the future.

However, in the meantime, for registered employers, up to £450 can be claimed back with CITB Grant. We are also developing an Experienced Worker Practical Assessment as a quicker, alternative route to gaining the NVQ.

Alistair Collin, CITB-ConstructionSkills Bircham Newton, Norfolk