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A guide to training & accreditation for construction staff

By Kim Latham

Gaining extra qualifications and having up-to-date training is vital for an ongoing, successful career in the construction sector. As well as being necessary for Health & Safety reasons, it is also essential for an individual sole trader or a company to grow with the times and to adapt to market conditions in a bid to stay one foot ahead in a sector that is highly competitive.


According to The Construction Industry Training Board, (CITB), the construction sector now has more than a million small and medium-sized employers, making them essential contributors to the sector and the economy. Yet many smaller firms operate on wafer-thin profit margins, making it hard for them to invest in the training that can transform their business.

In 2018, CITB claims it helped over 1,400 smaller employers through access to £6m in training support through its Skills and Training Fund. In the coming year, it will continue to invest by growing this fund to £8m, reaching 1,900 firms.

In a news release issued earlier this year in May, CITB Chief Executive Sarah Beale, said: “Our business plan identifies the most pressing skills challenges we face as an industry, and sets out the detail of how CITB will work with partners to address them.

“We’ve built the plan by listening to employers and their needs, and making sure CITB is focused on a small number of really critical projects that it is best placed to deliver, whilst improving our services too.

“Working with employers, learners and education, I’m confident that this plan will help transform construction and make it fit for the future,” said Beale.

In the next five years it is expected that the UK construction industry will grow by 2.5% every year. Around 232,000 jobs are expected to be created due to high investment in infrastructure and growth in private housing, according to Bedford College, so what will you or your company do to gain the competitive edge?

“In total, 16 individual companies won new contract awards worth in excess of £100 million in March 2019.   Housing was the largest market sector, delivering more than £1.84 billion in new contract awards. However, thanks to the Euston super-station, railways came in a close second with £1.3 billion of new work. The education sector also reported 130 new contract awards valued at almost £1.11 billion.

Regionally, London retained its position at the top of the heap with 123 new contract awards valued at more than £2.5 billion. The North West region experienced a sharp upswing in April, recording 60 new contract awards worth a combined £600 million.

At the time of writing, Brexit hangs in the balance and economic uncertainty remains the order of the day in just about every market sector other than construction. But with two consecutive months characterised by huge demand and with a healthy-looking forward tender book, construction currently shows no signs of acting as any kind of barometer. In fact, the sector is looking increasingly like a rebel with a cause.”

What qualifications do I need to work on or run a building site?

You’ll need experience and qualifications in construction or civil engineering. You’ll also need a Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) card and relevant health and safety training as well as a full driving licence to travel between sites.

Set up in the 1990s, the CSCS (run by the CITB) keeps a database of those working in construction, who have attained an agreed level of occupational competence. Successful applicants are issued with a card – this gives them a means of identification and confirms that they have the required training and qualifications, according to The Low Income Tax Reform Group.

As different jobs on a building site require different skills and qualifications, there are a range of cards to cover different occupations within the construction industry. For example: Manager, Skilled Worker, and Labourer.

The Labourer card is the entry-level card, as labouring is essentially a non-skilled role. However, you still need to demonstrate you have achieved a minimum standard. This card is valid for five years and can be renewed.

Workers on site will also need to obtain the CSCS which helps keep workers in the UK’s construction industry safe – and therefore sites running smoothly. Workers are able to apply for a CSCS card once they have shown that they hold a level of skill and competence on matters such as manual handling and hazardous substances, as well as health and safety awareness.

There is a £36 fee for the card, so it is important to keep it safe, as you will have to pay for a new one if you lose it. 

Once you receive your card, you should make a separate note of the CSCS Registration number that you have been given (which will be on the card), just in case of any mishaps and so it is easy for CSCS to trace your record.

What qualifications do I need to work on or run a building site?

If a labourer submits a certificate for one of the of the following and passes the Operative level CITB Health, Safety and Environment test they may apply for a CSCS labourer card according to CSCS:

·       RQF Level 1 or SCQF Level 4 Award Health and Safety in a Construction Environment certificate

·       A valid one day Site Safety plus Health and Safety Awareness course certificate

·       IOSH Working Safely course certificate.
PLEASE NOTE: The e-assessment of the IOSH Working Safely Course will not be accepted as an approved route to the labourer card.

·       A valid JTJ Introduction to Construction course certificate

·       A valid Priestman Associates Principles of Construction Site Health and Safety course certificate

·       HABC Level 1 Award in Health and Safety for Construction certificate

·       Rushmoor Borough Council Level 1 Award Health and Safety in a Construction Environment certificate

·       A valid DSA Health and Safety Awareness course certificate

You must also pass the CITB Operatives Health, Safety and Environment test within two years prior to applying for a new card.

What salary can I expect working on a building site?

According to the National Careers Service, a UK construction site supervisor works between 44-46 hours a week and can earn between £28-40,000.

Industry Training Bodies

There are numerous UK organisations and industry bodies that can help both companies and individuals in the construction sector to move beyond their current potential. We’ve selected a few prominent industry bodies for you.

CITB – The Construction Industry Training Board (and a partner in the Sector Skills Council for the construction industry in England, Scotland and Wales,) work with the industry to encourage training in a bid to help provide a safe, professional, and fully qualified workforce.

ECITBThe Engineering Construction Industry Training Board (ECITB) is the skills, standards, and qualifications body for the development of the engineering construction workforce of Great Britain. An arms-length body of the UK Government, the ECITB reports to the Department for Education.

CISRS – The Construction Industry Scaffolders’ Record Scheme (CISRS) has been the recognised scaffold training scheme for over 40 years.

CIC – The Construction Industry Council (CIC) is the representative forum for the professional bodies, research organisations, and specialist business associations in the construction industry. Established in 1988 with just five founder members, CIC now occupies a key role within the UK construction industry providing a single voice for professionals in all sectors of the built environment through its collective membership of 500,000 individual professionals and more than 25,000 firms of construction consultants.

The Federation of Master BuildersMaster Builders can access a range of business support services to help grow, improve and protect their businesses. FMB members are professionally vetted and independently inspected on joining and can offer a warranty on all their work.

Can ISO standards bolster business?

In short, yes, they can bolster business. It is common place these days for customers to ask for proof of a compliant business set up and for organisations to ask contractors to demonstrate certain disciplines and ISO standards are one way to continuously improve and prove your worth as a company.

If you are considering ISO certification it is vital that you choose a UK National Accreditation Body (UKAS), accredited Certification Company. Many organisations, especially those in the public sector will only recognise certificates that have been issued through an UKAS accredited company, according to the British Assessment Bureau.

Insurance for construction workers

Why do construction workers need professional indemnity insurance?


Any building contract involves not only the physical process of construction but very often the provision of advice to clients, the preparation of designs and drawings, and the calculation of detailed specifications.

At any one of these stages you might make a mistake and unwittingly act – or fail to act – in a way that results in substantial financial loss to your client or even to the injury or death of an individual suffering the consequences of your error. In those circumstances, you may face very substantial claims for compensation from the parties who have suffered any loss or damage.


At we specialise in the provision of insurance for construction workers, which offers indemnity against claims alleging negligence in the way you have conducted your business.

The construction workers’ professional indemnity insurance we arrange can accommodate the kinds and scale of contracts on which you intend to be working – whether you are a sole trader or the owner of a sizeable building company.


Disclaimer: The advice provided here are our own interpretations and opinions. We have tried to simplify the main points to create this article and the information provided is for general informational purposes only. While we try to keep the information up-to-date and correct, there are no representations or warranties, express or implied, about the completeness, accuracy, reliability, suitability or availability with respect to the information, products, services, or related graphics contained in this blog for any purpose. Any use of this information is at your own risk.

5 training courses for builders

The Training Building Centre – provides courses on bricklaying, plumbing, plastering, carpentry, roof tiling, and roof construction.

The Construction Skills College – From tiling and carpentry to plastering, plumbing and bricklaying The Construction Skills College provides numerous training courses for absolute beginners to seasoned professionals wanting to further their qualifications.

Bedford College – Bricklaying is a programme that will provide the underpinning skills and knowledge to progress through the levels of brick and block laying whilst exploring theoretically and practically the following topics at an appropriate level to begin. This programme will also offer support, preparing you for the construction industry.

This course teaches the following: The Principles of Building Construction, Information and Communication, Contribution to Setting Out and Building of Masonry Structures up to Damp Proof Course, Carrying out Block-laying Activities, Carrying out Bricklaying Activities, Carrying out Cavity Wall Activities, Health, Safety, and Welfare in Construction.

College of North West London – This bricklaying course is for you if you want to learn the basic skills required to enable you to seek a job in the industry. At this level you do not need experience, just enthusiasm and the commitment to learn and undertake a range of small projects. This course will help develop the skills employers in the industry are looking for, such as technical and practical skills, problem solving, team work and communication.

You will carry out a series of workshop tasks where you will learn to use a range of tools, including levels and string lines, foundations, cavity walls, and a range of different types of walls such as garden walls and structural walls.

The Manchester College – This qualification provides students with an understanding of the principles of organising, planning, and pricing construction work. This includes how to repair and maintain masonry structures, constructing radial and battered brickwork, constructing fireplaces and chimneys, and carrying out decorative and reinforced brickwork. Students will learn how to work in a safe, professional manner to an accepted code of practice, and how to follow the relevant health and safety regulations.

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