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Nothing will make a person feel safer in the construction industry than knowing that competent and skilled workers built everything around him. Just imagine if the construction industry employs unfit workers for the job, there will be no stability on the foundations and buildings. Indeed, the public will lose trust in the industry, which is considered one of the most critical sectors of society.
The Construction Plant Competence Scheme was initiated to raise the standards and ensure workers’ competence and reliability, particularly the plant sector.

What is the CPCS scheme all about?

The Construction Plant Competence Scheme, or CPCS is a scheme launched in 2003 to help comply with the regulations and requirements set forth by the construction industry. It provides skills cards for plant operators in accordance with the Code of Practice for Competence and Certification, which aims to apply as common standards for all plant operators of the construction industry. Recognised by some of the most prominent organisations such as UK Contractors Group (UKCG) and Major Home Builders Group (MHBG), CPCS covers a wide range of plant and plant-related categories.

Since its inception, CPCS has already issued more than 300,000 cards for over 60 categories and endorsements of plant or plant operations.

What are the objectives of CPCS?

Aside from what has mentioned above, CPCS aims to do the following:

  • To give identification to all plant operators and workers through recognition of skills, knowledge and understanding, competence and qualification.
  • To improve health, safety and environmental standards through the Health, Safety and Environmental Testing.
  • To equip individuals with relevant skills and knowledge through learning and assessment, thereby allowing them to seek job opportunities in the plant sector. At the same time, it can improve employment prospects for experienced operators.
  • To be self-financing and to use excess funds for the benefit of the construction industry as a whole.
  • To encourage the employment of certified and competent plant operators.
  • To provide income opportunities in other parts of Europe through agreements with other countries.
  • To keep a record of workers who have achieved a certain level of operating ability and competence.

What are the core elements of the scheme?

The following elements are used to determine skills, competence and qualifications as the basis for eligibility for scheme membership –

  • Training using variety of channels
  • Health, safety and environment awareness
  • CPCS Theory Test to test one’s knowledge and understanding
  • CPCS Practical Test to check operating ability
  • SVQ and NVQ for operating competence vocational qualification
  • Logbook for the ongoing operating ability and recording
  • Onsite Assessment
  • CPCS Renewal Test for up-to-date knowledge and understanding

Once confirmed, what are the confirmation cards available under the scheme?

Trained Operator Card

Issued to those who have skills, knowledge and understanding but not yet measured as competent, the red card is good for two years and non-renewable. To obtain this card, the applicant must pass all the necessary tests delivered by an accredited CPCS Test Center. Tests include the CPCS Technical Test provided by a CPCS trainer, Health, Safety and Environment Test, Theory Test and Practical Test. Theory and Practical tests must be taken within two years from when the HS&E test was taken.

Competent Operator Card

This blue, 5-year card is renewable and given to those with a certain level of competence. He must pass HS&E test, practical and theory test and has achieved a relevant SVQ or NVQ. Tests should likewise be delivered by an accredited CPCS Test Centre.

Trainer Card

In obtaining a trainer (grey) card, one must attain health and safety and first aid qualification. Role-based trainer course must also be taken. In the event that competence in the course was not proven, a 2-year, non-renewable provisional trainer card will be issued. Further, HS&E test, advanced theory test and the advanced practical test must also be taken. Advanced theory and advanced practical tests must be given by an accredited CPCS Test Centre.

Tester Card

A CPCS Tester is equipped with sufficient industry and operating knowledge and ability in the plant sector. Before one becomes a tester, same requirements with the trainer should also be complied with.

Take note that a £25 non-refundable fee must be paid for the services in the processing of card applications.

What is the difference between a tester and a trainer?

A CPCS Tester’s role is to assess an individual’s performance in the CPCS Technical test. Therefore, a tester should have a suitable and sufficient knowledge and ability pertaining to the plant category and its uses. Also, a tester should work within the CPCS Test Center to supervise, deliver and provide a written feedback on the tests taken and onsite assessment.

On the other hand, a CPCS Trainer has to identify learning needs and thereafter creating and delivering training sessions for the learners. In every session, the trainer should make sure that all learners will participate and receive constructive feedback as to their performance. Unlike testers, trainers may work as a freelance or through a training provider. There is no need to work through CPCS Test Centers and will not be under monitoring protocols.

Nonetheless, the tester and trainer must comply with the same requirements, including the Role Based course. This is a 3-day course which teaches preparation and delivery of teaching sessions, the creation of course programs and to ensure that a minimum standard of training and assessing ability will be imparted. Further, there is always a need to be updated on the latest CPCS requirements.   

Why is there a need to take the HS&E test?

Health, safety and environment will always be a primary concern in the construction industry. As a plant operator, there is a responsibility to address these issues to ensure the safety of the workers. Because of the risks associated with the industry, each tester, trainer or operator should have a certain level of awareness regarding health, safety and the environment to minimise or control these risks while creating a safe work zone.

You can find more about the CPCS here.

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