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Skills card boss vows to tackle operators' worries

PLANT Head of CPCS scheme to clarify card costs and promises to 'go after' underperforming instructors

THE NEW head of the CPCS operator card scheme has promised to address the concerns of drivers about costs and bureaucracy and to weed out training companies that do not come up to scratch.

Trevor Gamble, who was appointed head of the CPCS management committee in March, said that his threefold aim was to increase the level of consultation with operators; to improve their health and safety record; and to make the scheme 'sharper, slicker and more user-friendly'.

He said: 'If a driver is self-employed and earns under £69,000 a year and registers with the CITB he can get a grant without paying any levy. Not many people know that. People also don't know that they can achieve their NVQ in a day, by using the new experienced worker assessment, if they can show the evidence of their experience through logbooks or time sheets.'

Mr Gamble is set to respond to complaints from drivers about the high cost of reassessing categories. He said: 'We want to make a booklet available setting out what is a reasonable cost, based on average charges. It is only fair that operators have a benchmark.'

But at the same time he said that CPCS staff would monitor more instructors and training centres closely.

He said: 'Some training centres are mostly assessing, rather than instructing, while others have embraced the NVQ scheme. The CPCS has never intervened before, but we will be directing operators to those that offer NVQs in future.'

Mr Gamble responded to recent criticism of some instructors with a promise to root out poor performers: 'We take the view that if a driver doesn't come up to speed it affects one person, but if an instructor doesn't come up to speed it could affect thousands. If there are poor instructors I want to know who they are and we will go af ter them.'

He added: 'I want to reassure people that one in every three instructors had their activities monitored by our staff last year. But I also think that if operators have to continue demonstrating their competence, then so should instructors. I want to see them reviewed regularly.'

Mr Gamble is concerned that many employers were not bothering with any competence cards at all, he said.

He said: 'Many smaller companies are very archaic. In what other industry is the responsibility for training left with the worker on site? Yet they can get money back through grants. A CPCS card gives the worker status and can get them work. If a business embraces it, there should be a pay back for their insurance, since it shows they are taking measures to reduce risk.'

NVQ survey

THE CPCS is to interview 500 of the first 3,200 holders of red 'trained operator' cards whose cards are due to expire by December, in a bid to find out how close they are to achieving their NVQ.

The NVQ is a requirement for people to convert to the blue 'competent operator card' but there have been fears that few have so far achieved it.

CPCS chair Trevor Gamble said: 'We just don't know the status of individuals and whether they are using the card on site any more.

'We can help people to get their paperwork in order for NVQs and we believe we have enough centres to train them, but we may find that we have to ask the Government for more financial support to bring them all on stream.'