Posted on Friday, 5th February 2021
When it comes to plant training for construction site workers, there are few names more highly respected than CPCS. Thousands of workers use CPCS job cards to evidence their practical and theoretical knowledge of performing plant operator jobs safely and effectively.
In today’s blog, we take an in-depth look at who CPCS are, the services they provide, and how to get CPCS training near you.
CPCS stands for the Construction Plant Competence Scheme. Since 2003, they have been issuing job cards to competent and qualified construction workers across the UK. CPCS forms part of the NOCN Group, an awarding body who issue and manage many card schemes across the construction sector and beyond.
CPCS training courses and cards are primarily designed to prove the competence of those who handle dangerous equipment when performing plant operations on site. These include workers who operate cranes, MEWPs, dumper trucks, and many more vehicles and machinery used on building sites.
To get a CPCS card, you need to complete a CPCS accredited course relevant to the position you’re applying for. For example, if your job involves working with forward-tipping dumper trucks, you would need to complete the CPCS Forward Tipping Dumper (A09) course to get hold of your dumper ticket. You can find a full list of the CPCS courses we offer on our website.
Once you have completed the relevant course, you will be able to apply for your CPCS Trained Operator card (also known as the CPCS red card). These cards prove your suitability for the role you are trained in, and should be accepted by your managers, employers, and supervisors to get you on site. Complete the application process on the NOCN website to get your card.
CPCS training courses normally take between 2-5 days depending on the specifics of the course you are taking on, and your experience in the role. In addition to CPCS training, applicants also need to have completed the CITB Health, Safety and Environment (HS&E) test within the past two years.
The specifics of the course content will of course depend on the nature of your training. However, most CPCS training courses will involve a mixture of classroom-based learning, as well as hands-on, practical exercises with the equipment being trained on.
Most CPCS training courses culminate in a one day assessment, where learners will be asked to undertake technical tests. This normally involves the learner being asked to operate the machinery safely while being observed by a trainer. This may also involve some theoretical testing.
For information on a specific course content or assessment criteria, head over to our course index and search for the training you are looking for.
A CPCS red card lasts two years, at which point they cannot be renewed. This is because the red card is a temporary card for workers who are yet to complete full training in their discipline.
If you want to get a permanent and renewable card, you need to upgrade to a CPCS Competent Operator card (also known as the CPCS blue card). Not only are blue cards renewable, but they also last five years. It’s highly advised that anyone with a red card starts working towards their blue card as soon as possible.
To upgrade to a competent operator card, workers need to complete a relevant level 2 NVQ for their discipline. You can find out more about the plant operation NVQs we offer here.
At the time of writing, the price of a CPCS card is £28. It will cost the same amount of money to be re-issued with a card due to it becoming damaged, lost, or stolen.
The price of your CPCS training course will depend on the specific course you are undertaking, and the training provider you are using. As ESS, we have number of funding options available for individuals or companies looking to access funding.
The price of your course will not include your CITB HS&E test, which has to be booked separately. At the time of writing, these tests cost £21.
CPCS renewal can be only completed by those holding a blue card in their discipline. This renewal process will involve the learner taking the necessary tests for each category held on their card. If their card has been expired for over five years, they may have to re-complete their original course. Find out more about the renewal process on the NOCN website.
To keep on top of your cards and monitor the expiration dates, you can use the CPCS Card Checker. As learners are automatically entered into the CPCS’s database when training is completed, you can simply enter your details and get all the information you need to keep on top of your qualifications and training.
Unfortunately, you can no longer get a CPCS blue card without completing a Level 2 NVQ.
Previously, it was possible to get a competent operator card through ‘Industry Accreditation’, also referred to as 'Grandfather Rights'. This allowed workers with extensive experience and knowledge of their job to acquire their card without the formal qualifications. However, in 2019 NOCN announced this was to be phased out from 2020, with a complete removal of this route by 2024.
Those who have a blue card through industry accreditation will still be able to use their card until it’s expiry date, after which they will be expected to complete their training to gain a new one.
At ESS, we deliver expert CPCS plant training courses across the UK. In total, we deliver over 30 CPCS training courses. These include:
To see a full list of our CPCS courses, head over our dedicated CPCS course page.
While the CPCS card scheme is mainly designed for those who perform plant operations on site, we also offer a variety of courses which will help you apply for other job cards. These include CSCS and NPORS. Head over to our online course index to find a full list of training available with us.
If you’re looking for more courses, you can check out our online course index to find the training right for you. You can contact the ESS team directly by calling 0115 8970 529. You can also drop us an email at [email protected].