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Subbies still failing to sign up for skills cards

Number of subcontractors holding skills cards looks set to fall short of MCG's target figure

THE MAJOR Contractors Group is admitting it will be pleased to get just 75 per cent of subcontractors signed up to industry skills cards by its yearend deadline.

The revelation takes some gloss off the news that the centre handling the application process for cards affiliated to the Construction Skills Certification Scheme took a record number of calls last month.

The MCG wants all workers on its sites to hold skills cards by the beginning of next year - or face being booted off.

But the MCG is now facing up to the prospect that the numbers of subbies with cards will be well short of its target figure. A source said: 'We will have over 50 per cent but if we got 75 per cent we would be very pleased.'

Figures for the numbers holding CSCS cards by the end of 2003 will be released in January with direct labour expected to be over 90 per cent. But subbies have been left trailing well behind.

The source added: 'Some have been playing the game of wondering whether we're serious about this or not. We are but we are going to have to come up with a new strategy to mop up this rump.'

Last month the Construction Industry Training Board's call-centre at Bircham Newton in Norfolk took 46,000 calls on CSCS-related issues.

The centre is being swamped with nearly 600 applications for CSCS cards every day and 7,800 new cards are being issued every month.

Eddie Ruthven, assistant director of central training services at the CITB, said: 'We've had to increase the number staff at the call-centre and I think between now and the end of the year it will get even busier.'

CSCS covers 159 occupations on site and new ones to be added in the next week will be laboratory assistants, laboratory technicians and communication infrastructure installers.

The MCG wants to cut down on the number of visitor cards it issues on working sites in favour of a skills card.