Construction Plant Competence Scheme (CPCS)

The Construction Plant Competence Scheme (CPCS) provides skills cards for the plant sector of the Construction and allied industries. It was launched in 2003 and since then over 300,000 cards have been issued across 60 categories of plant and related occupations. The CPCS Management Committee continually review and amend the Scheme in the light of on-going Industry feedback, and external factors such latest occupational health issues, technology advances and new plant types are where the Scheme has undertaken such amendments.

CPCS maintains focus on ensuring that the Scheme is centred on the principles of independent, rigorous assessment of operating ability and for assurance of for competence assurance, raising of standards expected in the plant sector.


Do I Need A CPCS Card?

If you are working in construction in the UK then most probably yes. Build UK insists that operatives working on their sites must hold a CPCS card. Many other employers are also demanding the same requiring their employees to hold relevant cards to prove their skills.

However, you may find that not all employers will insist on CPCS certification especially those in non-construction industries. If this is the case, then in many instances our own certification will suffice to prove your skills. To view an image describing the process of getting a CPCS card please view this CPCS Flow Chart.

CPCS Red Trained Operator Card

The CPCS Red Trained Operator Card is issued on successful completion of the CPCS Theory and Practical Technical Tests which must be taken with a CPCS accredited test centre.

You must have achieved the relevant CITB Health, Safety and Environment Test within the 2 years before taking the CPCS technical tests.

Once you have passed the CPCS Technical Tests you will be issued with the CPCS Trained Operator Card. This card has a two-year validity and is non-renewable. You are required to prove your competence in the category by undertaking the relevant NVQ within the 2 years in order to upgrade to the Blue Competent Operator Card.

What does this card represent?

The Trained Operator has demonstrated a level of:

  • Health and safety awareness through the CITB Health, Safety and Environment Test
  • Underpinning knowledge and understanding through the CPCS Theory Test, and
  • Operating ability through the CPCS Practical Test

How to Extend a Red Trained Operator Card

You can follow one of two routes, depending on when your card expired:

1)     For a 12 month NVQ/SVQ extension, you must:

  • Hold a CPCS Red Trained Operator Card which is in date, or within 12 months from the expiry
  • Be registered for an NVQ or SVQ relevant to the category

Once these elements have been achieved, call the CPCS Helpline on 0844 815 7274, confirm your details and make a payment, you will be asked to provide proof of NVQ/SVQ registration by email or post. This is a non-refundable fee for the services of processing the application.

A new card will be issued for 12 months (from date of application receipt) to enable the NVQ/SVQ to be achieved.  Once the NVQ/SVQ has been achieved, you will be able to apply to Upgrade to a Blue Competent Operator card

2)     For an Additional 2 Year card, you must:

  • Hold an expired trained operator card by more than 12 months
  • Hold a valid CITB Health, safety and environment test
  • Achieve the CPCS theory test (within two years of the CITB Health, safety and environment test)
  • Achieve the CPCS practical test (within six months of the CPCS theory test and within two years of the CITB Health, safety and environment test)
  • be registered for the NVQ or SVQ.

Once all these elements have been achieved, the CPCS test centre will request the CPCS Additional 2 year Red Trained Operator card on your behalf.

Upgrade to a Blue CPCS Competent Operator Card

The CPCS Red Trained Operator card is only valid for 2 years, during which time you are required to undertake the relevant NVQ in order to upgrade to the Blue Competent Operator Card.  The only way to remain in the CPCS scheme is to complete the relevant NVQ.

National and Scottish Vocational Qualifications (NVQs/SVQs) are competency-based and achieved within the workplace. They demonstrate your ability (competence) to carry out your job to the required standard, recognising your skills, knowledge, ability, training and experience required to perform a job safely and in an effective and efficient manner.

The individuals will be required to gather evidence and be observed for the occupational competencies listed under each unit title of their chosen qualification. The assessor will support this process and provide help and guidance during visits to make this as easy and smooth as possible. It is important that all learners are actively working in their occupation in order to be able to complete.

What does this card represent?

The Competent Operator has demonstrated a level of:

  • Health and safety awareness through the CITB Health, Safety and Environment Test
  • Underpinning knowledge previously through a theory test
  • Operating ability previously through a practical test
  • Operating competence on the type of plant (evidenced by an NVQ or SVQ or employer confirmation of competence)

How long is the card valid for?

The blue Competent Operator Card has a five-year life.  The start date of the card will be from the date that the application form is received by the CITB Customer Operations. Each category added onto a blue Competent Operator Card will have the expiry date of the card itself.

Renewing a Blue CPCS Competent Operator Card

What are the requirements for renewing this card?

An operator is required to:

  • hold a valid Competent Operator Card that has not expired (please contact us for further advice if your card has expired)
  • pass the CITB Health, Safety and environment test (within two years of the card application)
  • pass the CPCS Renewal Test for each category held
  • demonstrate on-going practical operating experience through a choice of routes:
  • Logbook
  • On-Site Assessment
  • CPCS Practical Test
  • NVQ or SVQ

How to apply for the card

You will need to complete CPCS Application form F1/3. This can be accessed through a CPCS Test Centre or downloaded from the NOCN Jobcards Website.

CPCS Application form F1/3 will need to have an independent declaration by:

  • Logbook route or NVQ/SVQ: an Approved Company Validator, or
  • Practical Test or On-Site Assessment: the CPCS Tester who delivered the test.

Guidance notes are printed on the reverse of the form but should you have any difficulties in completing it please don’t hesitate to contact us.