While there are challenges ahead for the sector, which is set to grow by a quarter of million workers in the next four years, the construction industry will provide more opportunities for British workers, as the number of migrant workers falls, CITB’s annual Migration Survey showed.

Among the findings, 41% of employers will look to increase the skills of British workers, almost a third (30%) will provide more permanent jobs for Brits, a quarter (24%) will increase minimum salaries, and 16% will look to take on more local apprentices.

While employers reported a fall in the number of migrant employees, there was a rise in the number of self-employed migrants working for the industry.

While only 16% of companies expect that issues with migrant workers not remaining in the UK will impact their firm, almost three-quarters (72%) expect it to impact on the sector, with a quarter (27%) anticipating a serious impact.

Supporting the sector

CITB will support the sector in meeting the challenges of Covid-19 and Brexit with investments over the next five years including 28,000 taster experiences of construction, 19,000 on-site experiences to help prepare students, working with Government on a new construction traineeship to get more FE learners into jobs and apprenticeships and increasing the number of apprentices completing their training.

While the report showed that most employers reported no change in their number of migrant workers over the last year, 13% reported a fall in employing them, and only 2% a rise.

The largest fall (41%) was among those employing non-UK workers indirectly (ie. self-employed). Just over a tenth of the construction workforce are migrants, with the proportion falling from 10.7% in 2018 to 10.2% – a drop of about 5% in two years – with most coming from the EU.

The number of employers dependent on migrant workers has fallen slightly (from 15% in 2019 to 13%). While those directly employing migrants (ie. as staff) fell by 11%, the number of firms indirectly employing migrants rose by the same number.

One concerning trend was the lack of understanding among companies of how post-Brexit settlement empowers them to retain staff, with less than one in ten (9%) saying they understood it well.

The chief reasons for this included a primary focus on Covid-19, the belief that their firm will not suffer due to a low number of migrant workers, and waiting for further clarity on Brexit and preparing to act afterwards.

A ‘critical time’

Steve Radley, director of strategy and policy at CITB, said: “Construction faces a number of challenges over the next few years, among them declining numbers of migrant workers, as Covid has seen more workers leave the country and with a new tighter migration system.

“Employers expect to provide more jobs for British workers but for some occupations and employers, this is already proving challenging with order books growing, particularly in housing and infrastructure.

“The government has made some important commitments such as reforming FE, introducing construction traineeships and increasing access to unused apprenticeship levy funding.

“It’s vital that we work together to ensure these deliver the skills construction needs. It’s also critical that employers understand the new points-based system and have confidence it will respond quickly where there are pressures on key skills.”

As reported on PCBToday

Site Safety Plus certificate expiry

During the COVID-19 crisis, CITB provided a grace period for delegates whose SMSTS/SSSTS achievement had expired after 15 March 2020. The last updated grace period allowed delegates who were unable to access a refresher course before their certificate expired until the 30 November 2020 to join onto a SSSTS / SMSTS refresher, instead of having to sit the full course.

Due to uncertainty around local and national lockdowns and the fast approaching shutdown for the Christmas period, the CITB took the decision to extend this grace period further to support those delegates who have been unable to access the relevant refresher course.

All delegates now have until 31 January 2021 to join a SSSTS/SMSTS refresher course, if their current certificate expired after the 15 March 2020.

It is important to note that this grace period will not be extended any further, so we would advise that all delegates take this opportunity to attend the appropriate refresher course to avoid the need to attend the full course again.

A large number of our delegates have been questioning us as to why we do not offer evening classes?  In truth we didn’t really have an answer for them other than to say we weren’t sure if there was sufficient demand to justify running them.  At the time that was the best answer we could give however, after some discussion throughout the company we had to agree that we were not actually sure that was necessarily true at all.

Being innovative as we are (after all we were the first to bring you weekend CITB training!) and being conscious that it is you (our delegates) that drive demand we have decided that we really need to challenge our perceptions here, so by popular demand we have decided to trial the running of CITB: Site Supervisors’ Safety Training Scheme (SSSTS) evening courses from September through to November 2019.  The courses will run for four hours per evening on four consecutive days enabling us gauge demand and determine whether we should consider running the full suite of CITB: Site Safety Plus courses in the same manner.

The SSSTS two day course is intended for those who already fulfill or are about to take up supervisory responsibilities on a construction site and provides with a good ability to understand health, safety, welfare and environmental issues, as well as their legal responsibilities relevant to their work activities on site.

The course highlights the requirement to promote health and safety through effective supervision and is endorsed by the United Kingdom Contractors Group (UKCG) as the standard training for all supervisors working on sites within the UK.We will be running this course alongside our standard block week SSSTS and our weekend SSSTS courses and for those individuals looking to progress their career’s we would suggest that the five day CITB Site Management Safety Training Scheme (SMSTS) training course would be the next logical step.

Construction scheme card fraud is an ongoing and serious issue for the industry, such fraud not only devalues the scheme but puts both employers and employees at risk, as fraudulent card holders will rarely have achieved or maintained the competence they claim.

The CITB work closely with the police and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) to gather evidence to prosecute fraudulent behavior and bring criminals to account.  They are also committed to preventing fraud and provide a range of tools and information to assist employers in identifying CSCS card fraud.

One such tool provided by the CITB is their online Card Checker – if it is a genuine card, you should be able to find it on the system.  Additionally some android and windows smart phones will also allow you to read the card with the appropriate app further details are available from the CSCS website.

We would suggest that it is good practice for all employers to make use of these tools periodically and especially on recruitment of a new employee.   

Identifying a Fraudulent Card

A number of security features are normally built into a construction skills certification scheme (CSCS) card.

A genuine CSCS card will have:

  • The CSCS hologram in the top left-hand corner
    • on moving the card slightly to an angle you will see the words ‘Construction Skill Certification Scheme’ in the reflective element
  • A recent photo of the person on the right hand side of the card
    • the photo should have been taken within the last five years and should be a good likeness of the person before you
  • The card holder’s name printed below the CSCS hologram
  • The card holder’s registration number printed below their name along with the card’s expiry date.
    • the registration number should also be repeated on the back of the card
  • The ‘HS&E Tested’ logo next to the ID photo
    • this will be in a silver coloured box next to the ID photo or
    • this will be in a gold coloured box next to the ID photo
  • The card colour going right to the edge of the card
    • some forgeries are known to have what appears to be a white edge to the front of the card
  • Sharp and clear printing and colours – some forgeries have blurred or dull printing
  • The correct spelling  – some forgeries have spelling mistakes

To find out more about how to tell a genuine CSCS card from a fraudulent one, visit the CSCS website.

Action to Take if You Think Someone has a Fraudulent Card

If possible check the details of the card with the CITB online Card Checker – if it is a genuine card, you should be able to find it on the system.

If you suspect a worker of using a fraudulent card to work or enter a construction site:

  • retain the card if possible
  • make photocopies of front and back of the card
  • record cardholder’s name and address
  • ask the cardholder where the card was obtained from
  • call the local police and report the matter
  • refuse the worker access to the site (subject to company rules)

If it is a suspected fraudulent CSCS card:

  • send copies of all evidence, marked “SUSPECTED FRAUDULENT CARD” with crime reference number given by the local police to:

Operations Team
CSCS Ltd
The Building Centre
26 Store Street
London
WC1E 7BT

  • inform CITB by post, marking it for the attention of the Fraud Investigator, or email making sure to include:
    • a copy of all evidence
    • the crime number given by the local police.

The CITB and CSCS will fully support any prosecution with technical and factual evidence.

Combating CSCS card fraud requires all aspects of the construction industry to remain vigilant: employers, contractors, sub-contractors, employees, certificating bodies and training providers.

As a training provider Goldcross recognises the importance of ensuring its delegates reach the minimum level of competence required to pass the courses they undertake (construction related or otherwise) and as an avid supporter of the CITB Site Safety Plus Scheme providing the following courses:

we will always ensure that delegates reach the required standard before we support the allocation of any award/certificate/diploma.

As an employer you owe it to yourselves, your employees and the industry to ensure you carry out due diligence in order to ensure that the individuals working for you either directly or indirectly have the appropriate competence and certification.