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New organisation aims to sort out plant operator cards

20 Sep 19 Plans are being drawn up for a new organisation to represent the construction plant and machinery sector to sort out the whole business of operator training, licensing and certification once and for all.

CPCS card
CPCS card

The Plant Sector Representative Organisation (PSRO) is the provisional name of a new organisation set up by a coalition of industry associations and federations.

A statement issued by the Construction Plant-hire Association (CPA) said: “The intended outcome of the PSRO is in the enabling of a sufficient supply of individuals for plant-based occupations that have the requisite competencies following training and assessment, based on standards defined by an employer-devised framework which is both pragmatic and sustainable.”

It is now seeking broader support from plant owners, operators and certification bodies in establishing and supporting its aims, objectives and function. A series of open meetings have been organised for November – see below for details.

Since 2015, the Construction Leadership Council’s (CLC) criteria for industry card schemes have referred to a sector representative organisation to agree, along with relevant standards setting bodies such as the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB), the standard of qualifications and skills for construction occupations. However, there has been no sector representative organisation for plant occupations and feedback from employers has indicated that this has contributed to ambiguity, misperception and ineffectiveness in the use of construction plant-based card schemes.

In 2014 the UK Contractors Group (UKCG – now part of Build UK) decided to recognise the privately-owned National Plant Operators Registration Scheme (NPORS) as well as the industry-owned Construction Plant Competence Scheme (CPCS). It was argued at the time that having two separate approved card schemes, in competition with each other, would promote efficiency and make life easier for site managers.

CPCS has never exactly won the hearts and minds of the industry. Management of CPCS was privatised last year when the CITB sold it to NOCN Group.

From this mess, support for a stronger plant-specific sector representative organisation has emerged.

Build UK, the Civil Engineering Contractors Association (CECA), the Construction Plant-hire Association (CPA), the Federation of Piling Specialists (FPS), the Home Builders Federation (HBF), the National Federation of Demolition Contractors (NFDC) and the Scottish Plant Owners Association (SPOA) have come together to set up the new Plant Sector Representative Organisation and are represented on its board.

The Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS), as the promoters of the single logo for all construction-based card schemes, is also said to back the initiative.

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The CPA has agreed to initially administer the formation of the new organisation.

Other card scheme owners, such as the International Powered Access Federation (IPAF) PAL Card and ALLMI tickets for lorry loaders – both of which are CSCS approved – have not at this stage joined the new organisation, so fragmentation remains.

However, the PSRO is looking for “support, input and contribution from all industry and all stakeholders who have a role or interest in the supply of training, skills and competence requirements for plant-based occupations and help deliver the intended outcome and objectives”.

The CPA has, on behalf of the PSRO board, organised a series of meetings.

The first meeting, on 5th November 2019 at Nuthurst Grange, Hockley Heath is specifically for representatives from certification bodies that offer construction plant-based cards.

This will be followed by a series of open meetings:

  • Tuesday 19th November at Jurys Inn Oxford
  • Thursday 21st November at Mercure Haydock Hotel, Merseyside
  • Tuesday 26th November at Stirling Court Hotel, Scotland.

All those with an interest in construction-based card schemes are invited to attend the open meetings but spaces are limited and are available on a first come, first served basis. Those interested in attending should e-mail Jenny Lupton at with details of which meeting they would like to attend.

At each of the meetings, representatives from the PSRO board will relay and discuss the various conditions and protocols necessary to bring about the intended outcomes and operation of the PSRO, outline future activities and display an intended plant-based competency framework of the PSRO.

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