Industry’s skill crisis worsen with the dodgy cards exposé

The construction industry’s reputation has come under criticism thanks to BBC Newsnight’s revelation that some workers having been cheating and paying cash to gain CSCS cards.

The investigation is widely seen as highlighting the fact that these industry cards are poorly policed thereby putting site workers health at risk. 13 testing centres have already been shut down as a result of the investigation and  the CITB has also suspended applications from companies seeking to become qualified CSCS testing centre.

The exposé by the Newsnight programme showed card training scheme supervisors accepting cash to help reporters posing as candidates pass tests. The CITB is now set to take stock of the ongoing fraud investigation and will continue to work on installing CCTV cameras at testing centres.

The exposure has been warmly welcomed as it will now restricts prospective employees from entering sites on the basis of simply paying over money, rather than learning and understanding the competencies necessary for safely working on site.

The CITB is now contemplating liaising with CSCS on whether individuals who have received cards should be asked to retake their examinations.

Fraud involving CSCS card allotment has been a thorn in the industry for a long time and has been reported by various media outlets in the past decade.

The construction industry is one of the most dangerous employment sectors in the UK with death toll of over 200 workers in past five years. As an industry, the CSCS card is the minimum benchmark which has to be trusted to accept workers on the site to operate. The Construction Leadership Council agreed in January this year that clients and contractors should only accept card schemes with the CSCS logo.

The CSCS is now working closely with awarding bodies  to identify and take action against those attempting to commit fraud against construction employers.

Serious doubts have been raised about the value of these cards now and the questions of safety have extended into the minds of every parent who was coming around the idea that the construction industry was a good prospective career choice for their son or daughter.

Salary and job satisfaction play a part in consideration whether a parent support the industry or not as a career path for their kids, but if the construction sites and employees aren’t perceived as skilled and safe, those considerations start to fade away.

Going forward, the industry must remain vigilant.and fight together against card fraud. Where any suspicious activity is seen, it must be reported immediately. The card schemes are so important in maintaining safety and standards in the construction sector, and great strides have been made in this area recently.

Several people are killed in construction accidents with around 40 a year losing their lives. Without ridding the industry of the small minority of dodgy characters looking to make quick cash in charge of training, we will quickly see the industry return to the bad old days when health and safety wasn’t the main priority.


Source: Construction News & BBC Newsnight Programme