To a reasonable degree, the issues that used to exist in construction recruitment have been taken away by the widespread uptake of the CSCS and its colour coded cards. Historically construction recruitment was difficult from quality control and health and safety viewpoints. With no way of measuring the experience of a new employee, construction employers relied on reputation, word of mouth or simple pressure of numbers. Where a job needed a given number of pairs of hands to get it done, that number had to be hired by the company in charge of construction. Necessarily this led to an uneven quality of work – and a number of accidents that could have been prevented if the employees had had the health and safety training they needed.
How CSCS Has Rectified Issues in Construction Recruitment
To date, CSCS has taken care of some of the biggest issues in construction recruitment by making it very hard for unqualified persons or persons with improper experience to work on construction sites. Roughly 80% of all UK construction sites operate a policy of refusing work to anyone without a valid CSCS Card. The Card is fitted with a chip that allows site supervisors to see instantly what experience a person has; what qualifications; and also whether or not he or she is who he or she claims to be. The Card is given out with a photograph, which is also stored in the chip – if the photograph on the card has been changed that will become apparent when the chip is queried.
Remaining Issues with CSCS
Though CSCS has made a huge improvement in construction industry recruitment, it has given itself and the industry some hangovers to work through. Two persistent CSCS Card related problems remain: one, the issue of being able to tell whether a person you are recruiting has the right card; and two, an issue with the proliferation of industry related cards in general. Plenty of sites have been complaining for years that trade specific cards and industry accredited cards take up so much time, and give so many permissions or messages, that the whole system has become unwieldy. In keeping with its role as industry mediator, CSCS has taken steps to rectify this by incorporating applet style functionality to the chip on the CSCS Card, which can now store other information provided that the individual card owner gives his or her permission.
Can CSCS Solve the “Right Person, Right Card” Issue?
CSCS is currently involved in auditing its whole process. The scheme has now been in existence for more than 15 years, with 11 of those years as the industry standard benchmark for all health and safety and competence qualifications. While it has been modified as it has developed, there has never been a concerted overhaul of a process that is now quite old. CSCS is involved with a number of major industry employment providers and is trying to work out a way to make sure that construction employees always have the right CSCS Card for their current qualifications and skills.