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Plant trainer in call for reform of skills scheme

PLANT - On-site assessments fail to improve operator's skills and do nothing to reduce accidents, says trainer

A LEADING trainer has called for a thorough overhaul of the current CPCS skills card regime for plant operators, with refresher courses made compulsory before the card is renewed.

Chris Jones, until recently chairman of the National Plant Operators Registration Scheme - a CPCS partner - and now an independent trainer, contends that the present system, with its reliance on on-site assessment, will do nothing to reduce the number of accidents on site.

He said: 'A lot of money has been thrown at getting people NVQ-qualified but there is no point in ploughing it into onsite assessments because they do nothing to change the culture on site. Let's face it, the accident rate has not improved yet, even though supposedly all these people have reached the standard and got skills cards.'

Mr Jones added that he believed the race to get people 'qualified' had taken the focus away from improving construction workers' skills. He said: 'We have all been rushing to get cards to get on site when we should be aiming to make changes in behaviour.The NVQ is not a course.There is no teaching involved; it's just an assessment of performance, knowledge and understanding.The idea is that people who are found not to meet the required NVQ standard are referred for further training. But I bet the number who have been referred is less than 1 per cent.'

He added that current plans to 'fast-track' NVQs would just make matters worse.He said: 'You can't just fast-track NVQs and risk diluting the standards. If you're doing this, the question is why bother with NVQ level 2 at all?'

He believes supervisors should receive as much attention as operators when it comes to training.

He said: 'The problem with supervisors is they tend to think they don't need any more training but we should make the training of supervisors and managers compulsory.'

Mr Jones said the CPCS logbook scheme, brought in to provide a record of operators' competence, was in danger of being ignored because of assessments.

He said: 'The logbook is a good concept but I am not sure it is practical for the construction industry.Who is going to fill in their hours in a logbook if they can take an onsite assessment to get their card instead? It is too easy at the moment to take the short cut.'