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What is CSCS?

Posted on Friday, 15th October 2021

What is CSCS?

One of the biggest names in construction training is CSCS, but who are they and why is their card scheme so important? In this blog we take a look at the different cards available and how to apply for a CSCS card.

What does CSCS stand for?

CSCS stands for the Construction Skills Certification Scheme. This awarding body oversees the issuing of CSCS cards, which are widely recognised as proof of construction workers skills and experience in order to get on site. While it’s not a legal requirement, many employers will not allow construction workers on-site without them holding the correct CSCS card for their role.

What CSCS card do I need?

The CSCS card you need will depend on your role and responsibilities on site. There are many different cards available, commonly identified by their colours:

  • Green Labourer Card – This is an entry level card designed for those who are starting out in the industry as a construction labourer.
  • Red Temporary Card – This is a temporary CSCS card which is issued to those who are undertaking a form of qualification suitable for their role. It allows them to get on-site while their qualification is being completed. These cards are only temporary and cannot be renewed. These cards come in few different varieties depending on which qualification is being undertaken: Apprentice, Experienced Technical, Supervisor or Manager, Experienced Worker, Trainee.
  • Blue Skilled Worker Card – Permanent card issued to construction workers who perform a variety of disciplines on-site but do not manage other workers.
  • Gold Supervisory Card – Workers who have supervisory responsibilities on-site.
  • Gold Advanced Craft Card – Workers who have specific advanced expertise in an aspect of site work.
  • Black Manager’s Card – For managers on construction sites.

How to get a CSCS card

The qualifications and experience you need to obtain a CSCS card will depend on which card you are applying for. You will need to be able to demonstrate you have the necessary knowledge and skills required to perform your job effectively and safely. For all cards, you will need to have completed the CITB HS&E test within the past 2 years, in addition to any qualifications needed for that specific card.

Green Labourer Card

There are a couple of different routes to getting your CSCS green card. To hold the card, you need to be able to demonstrate you have a fundamental knowledge of the principles needed to stay safe on-site. This can be done by completing any of the following courses:

Find out more by reading our blog 'Labourer Card | CSCS Green Card’.

Red Temporary Cardimage shows CSCS red card

To qualify for a red card, you need to be enrolled on a qualification that is suitable for your role. The type of qualification will dictate which card you can hold. As these cards are temporary, they only last 2 years and cannot be renewed. They are only used to allow workers on-site while they qualify for their blue card.

Find out more by reading our blog ‘Red CSCS Cards Explained’.

Blue Skilled Worker Cardimage shows CSCS Skilled Worker card

To qualify for the Blue Skilled Worker Card, you need to have completed a Level 2 NVQ in a discipline relevant to your role. At ESS, we provide a wide range of construction-related Level 2 NVQs. Explore our course index to find a full list.

Find out more about this card by reading the 'ESS Guide to the CSCS Blue Skilled Worker Card’.

Gold Cardimage shows CSCS Supervisory card

To qualify for either the Supervisor or Advanced Craft Gold Card, you need to have completed a relevant Level 3, 4 or 5 NVQ.  Take a look at our course index to find a full list of our Level 3, 4 & 5 NVQs.

If you want to know more about the gold card, read our blog ‘How To Get Your CSCS Gold Supervisor Card’.

Black Manager’s Cardimage shows CSCS Managers card

You can qualify for this card by completing a Level 5, 6 or 7 managerial NVQ, such as our Level 7 NVQ in Construction Senior Management.

You can find full guidance on applying for this card by reading our blog ‘How Do I Get A Manager's CSCS Black Card?’


How long does a CSCS card last?

Most CSCS cards last for 5 years, at which point your qualifications will need to be renewed. The CSCS card renewal process can be completed by visiting the online CSCS card checker.

However, CSCS Red Cards only last for 2 years and cannot be renewed. This is because the card is only a temporary means of allowing workers on-site while they complete the qualifications needed to apply for their CSCS Skilled Worker Card.

How much is a CSCS card?

CSCS cards themselves cost £36. This price does not include your NVQ, these prices will vary depending on the specific training you undertake.

You will have to book the CITB HS&E test separately in order to qualify for your card. This test costs £22.50.