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Summer drive for CSCS cards

NEWS - CITB-Constructionskills plans action to increase take-up of skills cards

A MAJOR summer relaunch of the campaign to qualify the workforce is being planned in a bid to reverse declining renewal rates for the CSCS skills card.

A working party from the industry-owned CSCS scheme, administered by CITB-Constructionskills, met in London this week to discuss plans to revitalise the initiative.

CSCS chairman George Brumwell said: 'At the moment CSCS is very concerned about the slowdown in take-up, the lack of drivers to actually have a card and the ability of the CITB to deliver it if the demand was there.'

According to CSCS data, the number of Major Contractors Group cardholders fell 4.5 per cent from 33,651 to 32,173 between September and December 2004 after two years of rapid growth.

Mr Brumwell added: 'We are talking to the CITB about how we lubricate the system.We're looking for a one-stop shop, which presents the CITB with quite a big challenge.

'We are pressing Government to make it compulsory for workers to have CSCS cards on public contracts but on the other hand that's no good if we can't deliver the workforce.'

CSCS is also looking for contractors to put more effective audit measures in place to overcome some evidence of resistance in the supply chain.

And the working group is also looking to combat the low penetration of the CSCS scheme in the biblical trades - currently around 8 or 9 per cent.

One potential option to bring the estimated 200,000 workers in the house building sector - accounting for the vast majority of the traditional trades - into CSCS includes reintroduction of grandfather rights.

Mr Brumwell said: 'Nothing has been decided yet but there are 30,000 people working for the four biggest house builders - can you ask a guy who's been in the industry for 30 years to go and carve a block of wood in a shed?'

The Strategic Forum's annual report has also called for contractors to demand CSCS cards from the labour force and their supply chain.

Chairman Peter Rogers said: 'There is a huge number of people working on smaller projects and for house builders and they are not being asked for cards.'