Getting tradespeople back on-site
25 September 2018
Find out how the EWPA route is helping tradespeople get back on-site
Many tradespeople have worked in the construction industry for decades without ever attaining a formal qualification. Now that most sites require a Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) card many are finding they need to reaffirm their skillset with an official accreditation by gaining a qualification. In this blog, Dave Hall details why he believes the Experienced Worker Practical Assessment (EWPA) route is the most effective method of doing so.
There are tradespeople who have worked in the construction industry for decades without ever attaining a formal qualification. In years gone by, this has never really been an issue, so long as there was someone on-hand to vouch for a fellow tradesperson’s skillset many site managers were happy to take them at their word. This, however, is no longer the case, since it is now very difficult to work on-site without a valid Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) card, which requires the very minimum of an NVQ Level two qualification to obtain. As a result, many tradespeople are finding it more difficult to get on-site.
Whilst this change was taking place there was also another shift in the construction industry. A number of previously accepted skill cards known as Construction Related Operative (CRO) cards, are now discontinued and the CSCS card is the only scheme backed by the Construction Leadership Council (CLC). Whilst it’s not a legal requirement to carry a CLC-backed card on-site many large contractors are unwilling to let staff work without them. Since May, the CRO card, which was previously one of the most popular card schemes, was discontinued and is now no longer valid. This has left a number of tradespeople in limbo, many of whom don’t have an active trade card and are now finding it far more difficult to work on-site.
If a tradesperson is already qualified to NVQ-Level two and pass all the other necessary health and safety assessments, they will be able to get a CSCS Card relatively easily. However, if the individual has never been assessed before, they will have to first attain a relevant NVQ qualification. There are two possible routes to solving this; the first is to undertake an On-Site Assessment Test method (OSAT), which involves an assessor visiting a site to see evidence of a person’s work in addition to obtaining witness testimonies from current / former employers. Unfortunately, it can be hard to arrange one of these site visits due to a lack of assessors and the difficulties in getting on-site without a card in the first place. Often, the OSAT method causes further delays for people looking to get back on-site, costing them money and time.
The other route is the Experienced Worker Practical Assessment (EWPA), which we believe is the most effective and efficient process. Simply put, the EWPA route means a tradesperson can get assessed quickly at a time convenient to them. Only tradespeople with a minimum of 2 years’ experience in a relevant occupation are eligible for this route, however the assessment must take place at a training provider who is registered to assess the given trade, such as one of our Technical Academies.
At British Gypsum we offer two different EWPA routes. One for NVQ Level Two Interior Systems Drylining Finisher and another for NVQ Level Two Interior Systems Drylining Fixer. Both routes involve the same steps. Firstly, we send the installer information about the assessment and ask them to provide us with a range of witness testimonies from previous employers that validate the individual’s ability on-site. Next, the installer needs to come to one of our Technical Academies to undergo a practical assessment. This assessment has been designed to simply gauge the installer’s level of skill and should not be difficult for any experienced tradesperson.
After the assessment has been completed we reconvene in one of the Technical Academy’s classrooms and conduct a professional discussion based around the work involved in the assessment. From there we review all the information and assuming everything is above board we can process the candidate for an NVQ Level 2, which can then be used to attain a CSCS card. At British Gypsum six of our trainers are qualified to administer this route across our national network of Technical Academies.
The entire process usually takes about a month from start to finish, helping to get people back on-site relatively quickly.
Our trainers are well versed in the intricacies of these particular courses and are helping an increasing number of people achieve the necessary qualifications. If you’re interested in undertaking the EWPA route, please contact Dave Hall.