CPCS is required to phase out blue Competent Operator cards gained through ‘Grandfather Rights’ from 1 January 2020, and any cards issued through Grandfather Rights will be completely removed by 31 December 2024.

The requirement to do this has been set by the Construction Leadership Council (CLC) who have said that the minimum standard for skilled operators is a Level 2 Vocational Qualification (VQ) relevant to their occupation. You can find the CLC requirements to industry here: http://www.constructionleadershipcouncil.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/CLC-decision-on-card-scheme-logo-22.11.17.pdf

This requirement stretches across our whole industry and every recognised card scheme.

Grandfather Rights or Industry Accreditation in the past allowed workers to get CPCS blue cards based on industry knowledge and employer recommendation rather than the achievement of a recognised qualification.

This route was closed to new card applicants in 2003 when a Level 2 (VQ) relevant to the categories held was required, but those already holding a blue card were still able to renew under the old rules.

From 1 January 2020 all cards renewed under Industry Accreditation will expire on 31 December 2024 and we will stop issuing these cards from 30 June 2024.

What have we been doing?

The CPCS team has been working very hard over the past year to make this change as smooth as possible for those affected. We put two different proposals together that both had to be agreed and signed off by CITB as the Standard Setting Body, and CSCS.

Both of our proposals have the full backing of the CPCS Management Committee.

Our first proposal said that instead of removing your blue Competent Operator card and issuing you with a red Trained Operator card, we would continue to issue you a blue card. That blue card would have a fixed expiry of 31 December 2024. This would give you time to go away and meet the CLC requirements. You would then come back to us and get your card ‘topped up’ so that your categories reflect their original 5 year length. This proposal was accepted in April 2019.

Our second proposal said that rather than completing VQs for each family grouping you hold on your blue Competent Operator card, instead your skills and knowledge should mean that completing one Competence Interview set by NOCN CPCS would allow you to keep your cards. We submitted a Competence Interview template to CITB and CSCS over the summer and agreed in October 2019 that this was acceptable.

This means you will not have to go away and complete VQs by 2025, instead if you are affected you will need to complete one CPCS Competence Interview.

NOCN can offer this because as the leading Construction NVQ Awarding Organisation we are able to quality assure this Competence Interview to the same level of Quality as that expected of a Regulated Qualification.

If you have achieved at least one VQ in certain Construction or Plant related occupations you may not be affected at all. We will let you know.

What does this mean for you?

If you gained your blue card under Grandfather Rights, and you have not previously achieved a VQ in certain Construction or Plant related occupations, you will have to achieve an NOCN CPCS Competence Interview by the 31 December 2024.

In the meantime, as you come up for renewal from 1 January 2020 we will still issue you a blue card – you will not be disadvantaged on site. Your categories will all expire on 31 December 2024.

Once you have achieved your Competence Interview, come back to us and we will top your card up to its original expiry date. The cost of the Competence Interview will include a new smart card that will be sent out to you at an address you provide.

You can take the Competence Interview at a CPCS Test Centre such as ourselves.

If you have achieved a VQ in certain Construction or Plant related occupations – and we have evidence of this – you will not need to do anything further and we will issue you a normal blue Competent Operator Card.

What are your next steps?

You will receive guidance specific to your circumstances when you next renew your card. This guidance will be printed on the letter that your card arrives on. Please keep hold of this letter.

If you are unsure about what you need to do, please get in touch with us and we can talk to you about your individual circumstances.

We know that this is big news for our industry and we want to do everything we can to help you to meet these new industry requirements.