What removing grandfather rights from CSCS cards means for you

You’ll already know that CSCS cards are a hot topic at the moment. But what do the changes mean for you, and how will it impact your business?

What is changing with CSCS cards?

CSCS cards are changing to help maintain an industry wide national standard, and to ensure all construction workers are fully qualified. Previously, CSCS cards could be provided through Industry Accreditation (IA), which meant cards could be issued on the strength of a reference, rather than through a qualification.

Over 60,000 construction workers have CSCS cards under the IA scheme, so if you come under that category – you’re not alone.

What is a CSCS card? Why do you need one?

CSCS (Construction Skills Certification Scheme) is the leading skills certification scheme within the UK construction industry.

CSCS cards prove that workers have the right training and skills to do their job on a construction site. While the cards aren’t a legislative requirement, most contractors need workers to hold a valid card in order to work.

CSCS cards differ depending on your job, and each card is a different colour: skilled worker cards are blue, manager cards are black, and supervisor and advanced craft cards are both gold.

Construction person with clip board assessing work carried out

What is changing about CSCS cards?

In the past, workers could get a CSCS card based on a recommendation from an employer. Cards issued in this way were issued under Industry Accreditation (IA), or ‘grandfather rights’.

CSCS stopped cards being issued through recommendations in 2010, but until 2020, workers who had achieved cards in this way could continue to renew their cards.

In 2019 it was announced that from the 1st January 2020, all cards renewed under the Industry Accreditation (IA) would expire on 31st December 2024 and it would not be possible to replace them under IA. Instead, workers will need to have completed the relevant qualification in order to gain their CSCS card.

Why are CSCS cards changing, and what’s the thinking behind it?

The system for CSCS cards is changing to make sure that all construction workers are fully trained and competent. The Construction Leadership Council is aiming to ensure cards are ‘only issued to those who have achieved, or are in the process of achieving, a nationally recognised construction related qualification.’

What do the CSCS changes mean for the construction industry as a whole?

While it may seem like there’s a huge shift, the ultimate goal is simply to make the industry more consistent. Over time, it had become difficult to define the purpose of CSCS cards, and their relevance had been lost.

The change has the potential to create more stability, trust, and equality in our industry. However, it’s inevitable that some older and potentially more skilled workers may decide to take early retirement, rather than accepting the changes and working towards a new qualification.

What do changes to CSCS cards mean for workers?

As far as workers are concerned, the changes don’t need to be a major disruption. There’s time and support to get ready for December 2024, but if you need a hand navigating the change, please reach out to PIER for guidance and advice.

Construction workers on site in front of plans

Grandfather rights no longer apply to CSCS cards!

Grandfather rights no longer apply to CSCS cards, and instead, you must have the relevant qualification – either an NVQ or SVQ. However, this doesn’t mean you need to go back to school.

You may already have the relevant qualification for your role, but if you don’t, the chances are, you’ll have the skills and experience to complete the relevant qualification easily.

Can I get funding for the qualification?

If you do need to complete an NVQ or SVQ, you can do it during your working time so you are unlikely to lose any earnings. However, funding is available for employers to help you achieve the qualification itself, so please reach out to see what your current employer plans to do to help you. 

The cost of an NVQ/SVQ is set by individual providers, so the price could vary. 

Is achieving the qualification complicated?

Any worker who has a CSCS card under IA is going to be an experienced worker. For you, completing the qualification should be simple and the official site for the Construction Skills Certification Scheme suggested that there are several ways to show your knowledge including:

  • A Professional Discussion
  • Knowledge Evidence Questions.
  • Reflective accounts
  • Witness Testimonies (confirming previous workplace activities undertaken),
  • Product Evidence, e.g. minutes of meetings, RAMS, products of work
  • Observations

What’s the deadline?

It’s better to be ready in advance of 31st  December 2024, so if you do need to complete a qualification, the sooner you start the better. Qualification can take between 6 – 12 months to complete , but it is possible to complete them in a shorter period of time.

Construction worker being given instructions

What should I do to update my CSCS card?

If your CSCS card is due to expire and was provided through IA, there are a few simple steps you need to take.

Check that you still need an CSCS card

Check that you still need a CSCS card for your role. If you have moved to an office based managerial role or you don’t often visit a construction site, you might not need a CSCS card.

Complete the relevant qualification 

If you still need a CSCS card, you need to obtain the relevant qualification but this doesn’t mean you need to go to college. There are various routes available to you, and grants are available for employers to support with the cost of the qualification. Once you’ve completed the qualification, you won’t need to do it again.

If you already have the qualification, you don’t need to do anything, and you can renew your CSCS card as normal.

Be prepared for December 2024

Find out the best route for you by visiting the official website for the Construction Skills Certification scheme.

Need help? Reach out to PIER before you lose your CSCS card, and we’ll help you get ahead of the game.


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