Overseas qualifications under the spotlight

Over the last few years CSCS has made a number of high profile changes that ensure construction workers hold the correct qualifications for the job they do on site. The most well-known of these was the recent withdrawal of the Construction Related Occupation and the planned closure of the Construction Site Visitor card.

However, one area that is not so well documented is the work that has taken place to ensure the verification of overseas qualifications is brought in line with that already in place for UK based applications.

CSCS is aware that other card schemes are looking at this issue. Sharing our recent experiences may be useful to help the Partner Card Schemes determine what action they may need to take.

The issue

Historically applicants with overseas qualifications were required to apply to the UK’s international qualifications agency UK NARIC for an evaluation of their qualifications before applying for a CSCS card.

UK NARIC then issued a Statement of Comparability for Construction Skills which the applicant used to obtain a CSCS card.

However, the evaluation of overseas vocational qualifications was carried out in the broadest sense and did not include detailed mapping against the relevant UK National Occupational Standard (NOS) for Vocational Qualifications. Determining the equivalency of overseas qualifications was inconsistent with the detailed mapping against a NOS that takes place for UK based applications.

The process also attracted attention from those operating in the black market with CSCS regularly receiving fraudulent documentation (qualification certificates) from overseas applicants.

Clearly these two issues required an industry-wide solution.

Tackling fraud

As part of the wider strategy for combatting fraud CSCS worked with UK NARIC to introduce “Primary Source Verification” (PSV) into the application process.

PSV involves investigating the origin of the qualification, including the college it was delivered, to prove its authenticity. Since October 2017 all overseas applications must now pass this additional verification process.

Mapping qualifications

In December 2017 UK NARIC and the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) announced additional measures relating to the assessment of overseas vocational qualifications. Overseas construction workers wishing to work in the UK must now have the technical content of their overseas vocational qualification mapped against the relevant UK National Occupational Standard for that occupation. This provides an in-depth record of each individual’s skills and capabilities, mapped against units in the National Occupational Standard for their trade.

This will improve understanding of the relationship between UK and overseas construction industry qualifications at a unit-by-unit level. The mapping to National Occupational Standards will help to ensure that workers have the training they require for their job and will pinpoint areas for additional training, if required.

The mapping must then be verified by CITB (acting as the Standard Setting Body) before the qualification can be accepted as an approved equivalent to the UK based qualification.

Once the vocational qualification is approved UK NARIC will issue the applicant with a Statement of Comparability for Construction Skills which includes the relevant skills mapping.

Applying for a CSCS card

Applicants whose qualifications pass the enhanced verification process are required to provide the following when applying for a CSCS card:

  • a UK NARIC Statement of Comparability for Construction Skills with skills mapping chart*
  • a Primary Source Verification Report (issued by UK NARIC)
  • a copy of the original qualification (preferably translated)

Once this information is received CSCS will review and confirm if the qualification is suitable for a CSCS card.

Benefits

The introduction of the new verification process and the mapping of overseas qualifications against the appropriate UK NOS is a positive step that provides the industry with a robust level of scrutiny, similar to that already in place for UK based card applications.

By certifying that overseas construction workers have the correct training and qualifications, UK NARIC, CITB and CSCS are improving standards and safety in UK construction.

 

* This does not apply to those with academic qualifications – applicants for the Academically Qualified Person (AQP) CSCS cards will continue to use standard UK NARIC Statements of Comparability for their qualifications, without mapping, however the origin of the qualification will be checked through Primary Source Verification.