Industry ‘gutted’ as workers face qualifications lapsing without prospect of renewal

Thousands of workers face being thrown off site after the Learning and Skills Council cut its Train to Gain NVQ funding programme.

The announcement, made at the end of July, affects more than 23,000 staff who have “experienced worker” CSCS cards.

Workers can chose to upgrade their standard labourer cards to these non-renewable cards with a one-to-three-year life span. Once a card is nearing its expiry date, the worker must obtain an NVQ to obtain a “skilled operator” card.

However, industry bodies fear many workers could be left without a card now that funding for the NVQs has been cut.

Howard Button, chief executive of the National Federation of Demolition Contractors (NFDC), said: “We’ve had to decline those who want to do NVQs because we can’t get funding to put them through. We’re gutted. We have workers who could lose their cards, and be thrown off site.”

The average cost of an NVQ is £1,026. It is understood that firms that are eligible for funding from the ConstructionSkills levy, which can also fund the NVQs in some cases will only receive a maximum of £450 towards sponsoring a worker, which is not enough to fund the course.

Suzannah Nichol, chief executive of the National Specialist Contractors Council, said: “Employers have obligations to train their workforce and we will lobby hard for the Learning and Skills Council to reinstate the funding.”

Button said the NFDC had applied to ConstructionSkills for a time extension on the experienced worker cards.

But Brian Adams, chief executive of CSCS, said a “blanket extension” would not be issued. He said: “We would review each case on its own merits.”

A spokesperson from ConstructionSkills said: “We have raised the issue with the LSC and we are gathering information from employers and providers so we can report back on the extent of the problem.”