NVQs in Construction

CADUKs Guide to the Benefits of NVQs in Construction

Well, what do you know about NVQs?

Contrary to popular belief its not who you know these days but what you know and what you can do that makes a difference in the world of work in Construction.

Who says so?

Employers throughout the UK and abroad are using evidence of practical, work-related skills, knowledge and experience as the measurement of how valuable their people are now and for the future. CDM Regulation 2015 which are the the main set of regulations for managing the health, safety and welfare of construction projects have provided guidance for Principal Designers/Principal Contractors where they are advised to appoint contractors and workers and provide the managers and supervisors who have the right blend of skills, knowledge, training and experience. You can improve your chances of getting a better job and building a better career simply by being recognised for what you already know by committing yourself to undertake a National Vocational Qualification (NVQ).

The following is an introduction by CADUK to NVQs in Construction. What they are; who they are for, how you get them, what employers think of them and how you find out more.

How do you show what you know and can do?

The best way to improve your career prospects is to show that your skills meet the standards agreed by Construction Employers across the UK.  NVQs are designed to help you do just that.

NVQs are National because the represent the standards accepted through the UK. They are Vocational because they are about the work you do. They are respected, high quality qualifications that are Internationally recognised that give you a certificate to prove that you have reached the required standard to carry out your job in the Construction Industry.

Does an NVQ involve sitting exams?   

No. NVQs aren’t about how good you are at exams, they are about how good you are at work. NVQs never involve written tests, they don’t involve trick questions – they are designed to let your skills, knowledge and experience shine through in practical ways. All NVQs in Construction (and there are over 300 NVQs in Construction) are developed by the CITB through consultation with National Working Groups and Practitioner Groups from across the four home nations, so they are developed by people who know the Construction Industry. They relate to the real world and many certificate holders and their employers will tell you that this is their main advantage. NVQs are not about going back to school. They are about going where you want to go in your career.

Where can NVQs in Construction take you?

With a little effort on your part, The relevant NVQ can take your career wherever you want it to go. Whatever your job in Construction at whatever level there is an NVQ for you. As your career develops further NVQs at higher levels will become accessible. The NVQ framework in construction is designed to help you make progress in your career. Having an NVQ  gives you a better chance of changing jobs or having access to work abroad. You could even have a career break without having to start from scratch every time. When you move on from a job you take your recognised skills and experience with you: by giving you formal recognition, NVQs help keep your career on the move.

Are Employers in the Construction Industry backing NVQs?

NVQs tell your employer a lot about you. By gaining an NVQ, you are making a strong statement about your will to succeed in your job, particularly if you have paid for it yourself. You are saying that your skill level matters to you and you want to improve.

They also give employers a national benchmark for judging the contribution you are likely to make to the business. If you have an NVQ you have shown that you are prepared to invest your time in being recognised as a proven contributor to business success.

How do you get an NVQ?

NVQs are really flexible. There are no time limits, no age limits, no special entry requirements. You can work towards NVQs in the way that suits you best – at work, at home, interactively online. You decide how long it will take – working at your own speed you can do it all at once or in stages. NVQs are awarded dependent on your work skills this may include being watched at work by your assessor but this depends on the qualification you are undertaking and individual needs and circumstances.

Who are NVQs for?

Everyone in the Construction Industry can benefit from NVQs. There are 7 Levels of NVQs ranging form level 1 covering basic work activities through to level 7 for senior managers – so they can help the careers of senior managers as much as relative newcomers to the industry.

What about special cases?

Every NVQ carries a commitment to equal opportunities. Age, sex, race and learning difficulties are not barriers to achievement. All that matters is your ability to meet the NVQ standard.

What Industry Accreditation and Professional Designations are accessible through NVQs?

As well as providing access to the highly sort after Blue (Operative), Gold (Supervisor) and Black (Manager) CSCS cards, NVQs also provide access to professional recognition with a variety of Professional Institutions such as The Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB), The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), The Chartered Association of Building Engineers (CABE), The Institute of Clerk of Works and Construction Inspectorate (ICWCI) and The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH).

How can you find out more?

Talk to CADUK.  Contact us through our website www.caduk.co.uk or call us on 01952 292 005

Compliment & Enhance Your Construction Degree with an NVQ

There are a great deal of experienced managers in the construction industry who have achieved high level academic qualifications in construction management such as HNC, HND, Degrees that are dismissing the idea of undertaking an NVQ because they feel that their academic achievements have far more value.

Many argue that it took over 3 years to achieve their academic qualifications, paid an extortionate amount of money, burnt the midnight oil, attended workshops and lectures and undertook rigorous exams in the pursuit of academic excellence.

This may well be true, but to ignore the benefits of undertaking a competence based assessment qualification (NVQ) when you have access to one (at level 6 or 7) could be counterproductive in terms of professional development and access to work opportunities. This is particularly prevalent in the construction industry where competence based qualifications are actually viewed by many as having more value than academic qualifications. Academic qualifications such as degrees are an opportunity to enter an industry, and whilst the achievement of such a qualification is absolutely commendable – an individual could achieve a degree having never actually set foot on a construction site.

You cannot (for example) access a Black CSCS card with an academic qualification (i.e a degree). The Black CSCS card is linked to a Level 6 or 7 NVQ which demonstrates occupational competence and confirms the skills, knowledge and experience of an individual that has been gained over time in a real-world construction environment. Those that have achieved a HNC, HND or degree are however eligible to apply for the White AQP (Academically Qualified Persons) CSCS card.

The NVQ assessment process might seem less rigorous than an academic qualification, but don’t let this fool you. Experienced Construction Managers have earned the right to gain a Degree equivalent qualification (i.e an NVQ Level 6 or 7) that recognises the skills, knowledge and experience they gained through the ‘school of hard knocks’. They started at the bottom, worked long hours and underwent huge personal sacrifices to be able to work competently at this level.

Likewise we also believe that those construction managers that first achieved academic qualifications and have then gone on to gain real on-site experience should also grasp the opportunity to be recognised for their competence. Competence based assessment qualifications complement academic qualifications and actually enhance the individual’s workplace opportunities.

CADUK are specialists in the delivery of the Level 6 & 7 NVQs in Construction Management and are regularly asked by prospective learners for our advice and guidance as to the next steps in terms of their professional development. All of our Assessors and Internal Verifiers at levels 6 & 7 are Members or Fellows of The Chartered institute of Building (CIOB).

If you have a high level academic qualification and want to explore the benefits of competence based assessments, please send us an enquiry on our website www.caduk.co.uk or give us a call us on (01952) 292 005 and we will help you identify the right NVQ for you.

This post is aimed at anyone that has achieved high level academic qualifications in construction and carries out management functions i.e. Experienced Quantity Surveyors, Planners, Estimators, Design Managers, Site Engineers, Construction Managers, Project Managers, Commercial Managers, Contract Managers, Property Developers, Facility/Estate Managers etc.

Site Managers: You don’t know what you know!

“You don’t know what you know!” I say that every day to Construction Site Managers who enquire about the NVQ Level 6 in Construction Site Management. The majority of them are enquiring about the qualification not because they want to, but because they have to in order to access the Black CSCS card.

Most are oblivious of the breadth of the skills, knowledge and experience they have naturally developed over the years and have lost sight of the value and complexity of the tasks they do every day. They didn’t go to University, they started at the bottom, worked long hours and underwent huge personal sacrifices to be able to work competently at this level. They gained their skills, knowledge and experience through the ‘school of hard knocks’. Despite their vast experience however, they still feel an inferiority or a lack of self-confidence due to the disparaging attitude (or perceived attitude) of some colleagues who have entered the industry via the achievement of a University Degree and have some form of Professional Status.

In my opinion, this insecurity not only hinders the individual’s prospects for further advancement and employment opportunities, it also damages the reputation of the whole Construction industry. It creates the impression that construction sites are run by unqualified and therefore unprofessional people.

What these individuals don’t realise is that far beyond just accessing a Black CSCS Card, they actually have power to change their own view of themselves and the perception of others. Experienced Site Managers can undertake a qualification that is comparable to a Bachelors Degree such as the Level 6 NVQ in Construction Site Management. This qualification is not about learning, there is no studying and no exams. It is about demonstrating the skills, knowledge and experience you already have and being recognised for them.

The importance attached to being qualified to carry out a Site Management function in construction has grown significantly in the eyes of employers and clients across all sectors of the industry, particularly through CDM Regulations 2015. Being qualified to carry out your job role is without doubt what most employers and clients initially use to measure competence. Employers now want more than just a CV, they want proof that individuals have both the knowledge and technical ability to carry out a job role in the workplace to a recognised industry standard.

The industry benchmark for a Construction Site Manager is not a Degree, it’s not an HNC,  HND, or an SMSTS certificate (non of these will even help you gain access to a Black CSCS Card) – it is the NVQ Level 6 in Construction Site Management. Once a Site Manager has had the chance to reflect on their past practice, break down their skills and knowledge, tell their story, and provide workplace evidence that is assessed by an industry professional (all our our NVQ Assessors at this Level are Members or Fellows of The Chartered Institute of Building) they will be far more aware of their skills knowledge and experience and therefore much more confident. They really will “know what they know”.

Once this qualification has been completed, in addition to the Black CSCS Card, Site Managers will also have the opportunity to become Members of The Chartered Institute of Building (MCIOB) and Associate Members of The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (AssocRICS).

To find out if you have access to the Level 6 NVQ in Construction Site Management Click here and download our self-assessment Profiling Tool or give us a call on 01952 292 005.

HSE ‘passing the buck’ on construction fatalities

An MP has accused the Health and Safety Executive of “passing the buck” over delays in prosecuting construction companies for fatal accidents.

Jarrow MP Stephen Hepburn, leading a parliamentary debate on the issue, said that if the HSE was failing to prosecute, it could lead to “an ever greater number of companies [flouting] safety laws”.

He continued: “In 2007/08 the HSE was successful in prosecuting 51 per cent of construction fatal accidents. By 2012/13 that figure had dropped to a mere, and disgraceful, 35 per cent.”

As of last year, the HSE was successful in achieving a guilty verdict in more than 90 per cent of all prosecution cases. But writing for Construction News earlier this month, Mr Hepburn said that progress in the industry would not continue “unless the Health and Safety Executive is an effective policeman for construction safety”.

According to figures from the HSE, presented by Mr Hepburn, in 2006/07 the average time between a fatal accident in construction and a conviction was 985 days. But by 2014/15 this had increased to 1,267 days – nearly three-and-a-half years.

In 15 per cent of cases, prosecution does not begin for three to four years.

In response, parliamentary under-secretary of state for disabled people Justin Tomlinson said “several factors” can affect the pace at which fatal accidents are investigated.

“The police normally assume primacy for the investigation to identify whether serious offences, such as corporate manslaughter, are involved,” he said.

“This can take many months, or in some cases years, during which HSE is unable to initiate proceedings. The police and Crown Prosecution Service might be in charge of the case right through to any court cases.”

He added that more than 80 per cent of HSE investigations into fatal incidents were completed within 12 months of receiving primacy, while most “take considerably less time”.

According to Mr Tomlinson, half of HSE’s decisions to prosecute are made within two years of the date of a fatal construction incident.

Mr Hepburn raised the case of Falcon Crane Hire, which was fined £750,000 following a crane collapse in Battersea in 2006 that caused the deaths of the crane operator and a member of the public. The case was settled last week, nearly 10 years after the incident occurred.

He added that the HSE needed to address the “excruciating” delays between incident, prosecution and conviction.

“The HSE says the delays are due to other bodies and agencies, such as the police, the coroners’ courts and even the justice system itself, especially if the matter is referred to the Crown Court,” he said. “In other words, the HSE is saying it is not its fault.”

MP for Stirling Steven Paterson cited research from Stirling University, which said the HSE “looks and sounds like a toothless tiger – a lot of noise and increasingly little action”.

He cited figures from trade union Ucatt which suggested unannounced inspections of construction sites by the HSE in Scotland had dropped by 55 per cent since 2012/13.

“If companies think they will not be inspected and that there will never be a surprise knock at the door, the HSE loses all its authority in pressurising companies not to break safety laws,” Mr Hepburn said.

Mr Tomlinson said new guidelines are being put in place to ensure any decisions to prosecute were made “as quickly as possible”.

“There is now a new practical guide for investigators, which should ensure all parties work effectively together and that any prosecution is brought as soon as possible,” he said.

“Other than in exceptional circumstances, it should be no later than three years after the date of the death.”

Source: Construction News