ESS Guide to the CSCS Blue Skilled Worker Card

CSCS blue cards are a vital piece of evidence used by thousands of workers to perform their duties on construction sites every day. But how do you get one, and what training do you need? In today’s blog, we look at the process of applying for a CSCS skilled worker card.


What is a CSCS blue card?

Blue cards are just one type of CSCS card. CSCS cards come in several varieties depending on the worker's qualifications and responsibilities on site. While they are not a legal requirement, the vast majority of employers in the construction industry will demand their workers hold a relevant one for their position. 

The CSCS blue card, also known as the CSCS skilled worker card, is used as evidence to prove the competence of construction workers across a range of different roles on site. Blue cards are only issued to experienced workers who have completed the relevant training needed to fulfil their responsibilities on site safely and effectively.

CSCS blue cards are valid evidence for the majority of site workers, however they are not usually enough for those overseeing the work of others. For those roles, it may be necessary to have a CSCS gold supervisory card, or a CSCS black manager’s card. For a full break down of the different types of CSCS card, check out our guide ‘Everything You Need to Know About CSCS Cards’.


How do I get a skilled worker CSCS card?

image shows CSCS Blue CardTo get your skilled worker CSCS card, you need to complete a Level 2 NVQ, or valid equivalent. Alternatives to a NVQ include apprenticeships, such as an employer sponsored apprenticeship, a City and Guilds of London Institute Craft Certificate, or a CSCS Approved Trailblazer.

The qualification completed must be relevant to the specific tasks the worker carries out on site. For example, if the worker has to operate cranes in their role, they may want to complete the Level 2 NVQ in Plant Operations - Cranes and Specialist Lifting. If a worker has many separate responsibilities on site, they can have multiple NVQs on one card, rather than a separate card for each discipline.

In addition to their NVQ, applicants must also have completed the CITB Health, Safety and Environment Test (HS&E) within the past two years. This a multiple choice test that checks workers have a fundamental understanding of the basics of site safety.


Can I get a blue CSCS card without an NVQ?

No. To get a CSCS blue card you need to have completed a Level 2 NVQ or equivalent. If you need to get on site but don’t yet have the necessary qualifications for a blue card, your best option is to apply for a CSCS red card.

CSCS red cards are temporary cards issued to those who have not yet completed the training needed for their permanent card. These cards are valid for a much shorter period of time and cannot be renewed. They come in several different varieties to meet your specific circumstances.

  • Apprentice - Workers who have started a CSCS-recognised apprenticeship framework
  • Experienced Worker - Workers who have on-the-job experience and are enrolled on a Level 2 NVQ or higher
  • Experienced Technical, Supervisor or Manager - Supervisors, mangers, or technical workers who have on-the-job experienced and who are enrolled on a Level 3 NVQ or higher.
  • Trainee - Trainees that are registered to complete a construction related qualification acceptable for a CSCS card.
  • Provisional - Those working through a probationary period while employers assess their suitability for their job role.

As these temporary cards cannot be renewed, it’s advised to start working towards a permanent CSCS cards as soon as possible.

Alternatively, you could apply for a CSCS Labourer card, also known as the CSCS green card. This is an entry-level card for those who are working as generic construction labourers. To qualify for this card, you need to have completed the HS&E test, and a valid health and safety awareness course such as the CITB Health and Safety Awareness CourseFind out more about how to get this card by reading our blog 'How To Become A Construction Labourer'.


How to apply for blue CSCS cardimage shows CSCS card checker

Once you have completed all the necessary training, the quickest and simplest way to apply for a blue card is through CSCS's online application service. To do this, you will need to have a scanned copy of your qualification certificate, the ID number from your HS&E test, and a credit/debit card to pay the application fee.

If you would prefer to speak to someone over the phone, you can call CSCS on 0344 99 44 777. Once the application has been approved it normally takes 3-5 days for your card to arrive in the post.


How long does a CSCS card last?

CSCS skilled worker cards need to be renewed every five years. The process of blue CSCS card renewal is simple. If you already have a CSCS online account, you can login and begin the renewal process. Depending on the specifics of your job role and the disciplines involved, you maybe required to complete additional training, or a refresher course.

To help you keep on top on your cards, you can use CSCS card checker. This online tool is a useful way of monitoring the expiry dates of all your cards and training. When you apply for any CSCS card, your details are automatically uploaded onto their database. This is also useful for employers, as they can check the status of their worker’s training without having the physical cards or certificates.

Recently, CSCS have implemented their new 'virtual card' system. These virtual cards offer all the same privileges as physical cards, but are stored electronically on the My CSCS app. This allows workers to evidence their qualifications by displaying a virtual card on their phone, rather than having to bring all their physical cards with them. Virtual cards are automatically issued to workers upon approval of their card application to CSCS. 


How much does a blue CSCS card cost?

At the time of writing, all CSCS cards usually cost £36. This does not include the price of the NVQ, or the CITB HS&E test. 

As of April 2021, the price of HS&E tests will be £22. The prices of NVQs will vary depending on the specific course and the provider. 

Cards can be re-issued if lost, damaged or stolen, however you will have to pay £36 for a new card.


CSCS training near me

At ESS, we provide a range of NVQs which will allow you to apply for your CSCS blue card. We deliver Level 2 NVQs across disciplines such as construction operations, driving goods vehicles, plant operations, roadbuilding, and much more. Visit our online course index for a full list of options available.

We operate nationwide, so we should be able to deliver your training wherever you are in the country. Simply visit the relevant course page to make an enquiry. You can also speak to a member of our team directly by calling 0115 8970 529, or emailing us at training@essentialsiteskills.com.


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