Now, CSCS stands for the Construction Skills Certification Scheme and the whole thing was invented about 25 years ago. A neighbour’s young son was wanting to go into the construction industry and he asked me how to get a CSCS card.


The first thing I told him was that he had to have £47.50 to his name to be able to pay for it.

Of that £30 was to pay for his application and £17.50 to pay to take the test. Preferably he would have a credit card so as to be able to pay for these over the phone. The whole system is pretty complicated with loads of different coloured cards showing people’s qualifications in different areas of construction skills. The number of colours has recently been reduced but to make it more complicated one colour card can cover many things. However there is now a sneaky way that they have found to make the whole thing easier for people to apply. I told him to pick up the phone and call them.

They now have people at the other end of the line who will put the questions and be able to advise which card an applicant should be applying for. That makes the whole decision-making process easy. Once that bit is over the next thing is that they are given a date to take an online test in a centre.

Then, he was warned, more complications set in. He would have received in the post the book giving loads of questions and answers that would appear in the test. The answers in the book would be just as they would be online, multiple choice. He had to make sure that he got the vast majority right at his level. I told him to read a previous blog I had written which would explain to him very, very carefully how to structure cscs revision.

Where it gets complicated again is the vast range of tests that there are for the different cards. For entry-level construction workers such as labourers or apprentices, the questions and answers are pretty simple. Moving to the other end of it, though, for people like contract managers their test is actually very demanding as their card is equivalent to an NVQ 7. Even for them, though, if they know their stuff, the test is still pretty easy and can be over and done with inside 10 minutes.

Once he had finished his online test the young lad was told that his next move would be to go to the counter pay his £17.50 and walk away with the bit of paper he was given. After that, in a few days, the post man would come to his door and deliver his brand-new CSCS card. That would be him qualified to walk onto a construction site. Yipeee!

That information made the young lad happy and turned his mum into a grateful neighbour. I just hope that when he gets on site his boss keeps an eye open and make sure that the lad isn’t an accident looking for somewhere to happen.