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Sat January 22 2022

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Carpenter takes campaign against skills cards to Welsh Assembly

1 May 18 A carpenter is petitioning the Welsh Assembly to help bring an end to the requirement for worker certification on Welsh government contracts.

Paul Fear (right) presents his petition
Paul Fear (right) presents his petition

Paul Fear, a carpenter with more than 35 years’ experience in the construction industry, argues that the Construction Skills Certification Scheme is undemocratic, privatised occupational licensing schemes.

His petition garnered 66 signatures and will today be considered by the Welsh Assembly’s petitions committee.

He wants the Welsh Assembly to bring its influence to bear on the Welsh government, a supporter of CSCS cards.

Paul Fear argues that the requirement for worker certification, as currently enforced, puts the cost of training and qualifications onto individual workers, especially self-employed and agency employment workers who have little chance of grants or funding. It thus acts as an impediment to worker mobility and allows corporate interests to have control over the entire workforce.

He argues that there is no evidence that worker certification improves the quality of work delivered but it does increase the cost of public projects, he says.

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There is no legal requirement for workers to be certified but it has become de facto compulsory in the construction industry by diktat of major clients and contractors. The position of individual workers is ostensibly represented within CSCS by trades unions but, as Paul Fear points out, the vast majority of construction workers are not in a union.

“If an industry needs qualification requirements then our democratically elected government should create legislation,” he says in his petition.

He told The Construction Index:  “CSCS is not being funded properly by CITB, there is a conflict of interests in allowing the construction leadership council to set CSCS requirements. The unions on the board of CSCS are supposed to represent construction workers (they don't) and our socialist government in Wales is promoting a scheme that puts costs onto workers, denies the poorest access to work and also ignores grandfather rights. Hopefully, the petition will embarrass the Welsh labour government into taking action.”

He added: “To give you an idea of how crazy CITB is, I have 35-plus years’ experience as a carpenter. I don't have an NVQ, so according to CSCS and CITB I can't have a CSCS card, yet I am training CITB apprentices to be NVQ qualified carpenters. The whole system is barking mad!”

Paul Fear's argument is set out more fully in an article posted online by right-wing think tank, the Institute for Economic Affairs.

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