CITB and Construction Confederation to look at introduction of international skills driving licence for UK sites.
proposals TO recognise European skills qualifications on UK sites are being considered by industry bodies as a way of easing Britain's labour shortages.

The two groups formulating the plan, the Construction Industry Training Board and the Construction Confederation, are looking at how competence systems in other European countries could be harmonised with those in the UK.

Tony Merricks, chairman of the Construction Skills Certification Scheme, said the aim was to ease the tight labour market for some trades by allowing migrant workers who had trained in other European countries to work on British sites.

However, he added that he was disappointed with the government's attitude. Merricks said: "I asked the DTI for support and leadership in this initiative but I have received an unsatisfactory reply. We will now carry out a study and then again ask the DTI to support the move."

Merricks also urged the government to demand that workers on its projects carry CSCS cards.

Deputy prime minister John Prescott this week awarded the 250,000th CSCS card to Scott Dowdy, an employee of Brighton-based contractor Adenstar Construction.

Prescott said that, over the years, death rates on construction sites had been too high, but that he was pleased that they had fallen since the government's health and safety conference last year.

He told Building: "The death rates in construction seem to be going down, so my message to contractors is to keep up the good work."

He added that possession of a CSCS card was a good indication that a site worker had been taught good health and safety practice.

Building revealed in November that construction minister Brian Wilson was holding talks with the Home Office over plans to encourage thousands of skilled immigrants to apply for work on UK construction sites, as long as they passed stringent safety tests.

It is also understood that the government is considering extending an existing seasonal workers scheme to cover construction.