Latest News

What is the CPCS scheme and who needs a card?

Posted on Thursday, 9th August 2018

What is the CPCS scheme and who needs a card?

Safety and competence are highly important in the construction industry. The public and employers trust that people employed in the industry are able to carry out their job to a high standard and are fit for their jobs. That we can rely on our construction workforce is a great asset in this country and means we can have faith that the buildings we use are safe and fit for purpose. So that construction workers can prove their competence and reliability, particularly those in the plant sector, the Construction Plant Competence Scheme (CPCS) was introduced.

But what is CPCS, what does it demonstrate and how do workers achieve their CPCS cards?

What is the CPCS scheme?

CPCS is an initiative that was launched back in 2003 to help workers comply with the regulations and requirements set by the construction industry. The scheme provides skills cards for plant operators in accordance with the Code of Practice for Competence and Certification which is aimed to apply as the common standard for all plant operators of the construction industry.

Image shows Heavy duty construction vehicle on site.

The scheme is issued and owned by the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) and is recognised by all of the UK’s major home building and contractors groups.

CPCS covers a wide range of plant and plant-related categories and CITB continually review the scheme and add new categories - since its inception, more than 300,000 cards have been issued in over 60 categories and endorsements of plant or plant operations.

The CPCS Management Committee review and amend the scheme in the light of on-going industry feedback, and external factors, such as the latest occupational health issues, technology advances and new plant types.

What is the aim of CPCS?

Aside from the above, CITB says that the scheme aims to:

  • 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.


Who needs a CPCS Card?

If you are working in the construction industry in the UK then it’s very likely that you will need a CPCS card. Build UK, for example, insist that operatives working on their sites must hold a CPCS card. Many other employers are also demanding the same, requiring that their employees hold the relevant cards to prove their skills.

Image shows Cherry Picker vehicle with workers.

However, you may find that not all employers will insist on CPCS certification especially those in non-construction industries. If this is the case then in many instances our own certification will suffice to prove your skills.

Here at Essential Site Skills, we can help you establish whether you need a card and how to achieve it you can either get in touch or for a fast and easy guide, take a look at our visual poster.

Types of CPCS card and how to gain them

The two types of cards available are the Red Trained Operator Card and the Blue Competent Operator Card.

Image shows red CPCS CSCS Trained Operator card.

The Red Trained Operator Card is issued on successful completion of the CPCS Theory and Practical Technical Tests which must be taken with a CPCS accredited test centre. The card has a two-year validity and is non-renewable.  You must prove your competence in your chosen category by undertaking a relevant NVQ within two years in order to upgrade to the Blue Competent Operator Card.

Competency doesn’t last forever, meaning that you need to continually prove you are able to carry out your job in line with continually changing standards. Hence the upgrade to a Blue Competent Operator Card and the need to complete a relevant NVQ – the only way to remain in the CPCS scheme.

Image shows blue CPCS CSCS Competent Operator card.

Once you have achieved your blue card, it can be renewed in several ways. For more detailed information, please see our CPCS cards page.

Get help with CPCS cards

If you are unsure of what to do, how the scheme works or if you need a card, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.

Essential Site Skills can help guide you through the entire process from achieving your first card to renewing a blue card. Booking onto one of our courses is kept as simple as possible and we make it our priority to ensure you are given the most current information to ensure you are following industry guidelines. Give us a call on 0115 8970 529 for help and assistance.

Want to find out more?

Contact Us