News - Construction News

CSCS and CITB survey highlights fake certification card problem

Survey is part of drive to get companies to embrace technology to combat the problem.

The Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) and the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) have worked together on a survey that has highlighted problems with fake certification cards being used on construction sites throughout the UK.

It is a problem that was highlighted recently through a prosecution by the National Crime Agency of an organised gang that were dealing a range of important construction industry certificate cards as part of their activities.

This is a huge problem in the industry given that anybody working on a construction site must have the relevant qualifications for the particular work they undertake.

For their part, employers need to have peace of mind that anybody with a card is sufficiently qualified to work on the site.

The survey suggests that this is not the case. Distributed to a number of of industry bodies by CITB and CSCS, 1,180 construction workers took part in the scheme, scattered throughout the UK and not localised in one place.

Of those surveyed, slightly more than four fifths of construction workers said that they hold a skills certification card – the CSCS card is the main one with 92% of respondents saying this is the one they hold.

The survey reports that the main frequency of cards being checked of those who hold certification cards is when respondents first start work on a site or with a new contractor – 44%.

However, only 14% of people say their credentials are checked every time they go on site, 1% said checks happen at the start of every week, while 14% also said that checks on their card never happen.

These statistics show that 829 construction workers who responded are ones who hold a certification card and have them checked.

But when these respondents were then asked what aspects of cards are checked, only half said that attention was paid to whether they had the right card for the job, and less than half said correct qualifications for the job are checked.

In this era of heightened technology, it is perhaps a surprise that only 17% of construction workers say their cards are checked online, and even less at 6% say smart technology is used.

The main ways of checking cards of construction workers are visual and the paperbased recording, which 69% of respondents experienced.

Moving further down the survey, 18% of those who have responsibility for checking cards on-site have experienced fake cards being used throughout the past 12 months, meaning 82% have not seen any such incidents in that time.

Breaking these figures down further, 1% of respondents say that they have seen fake cards used daily in this time, 1% say at least once a week, and 3% say it’s a monthly occurrence.

These numbers do offer some reassurance, though clearly 1% is too many in these cases given what the ramifications could be for all involved.

It is something that both the CITB and CSCS are taking seriously and want to put an end to any incident where a fake certification card in the industry could be used.

CITB’s Head of Product Management, Braden Connolly, said: “Producing or using cards fraudulently can constitute a criminal offence. Increased action is needed to stamp out the fraudsters, which is why we are calling on industry to adopt new technology to help tackle this problem.

“CITB will continue to share intelligence and work with authorities wherever the evidence suggests criminal activity is taking place.”

CSCS Chief Executive, Graham Wren, believes that technology needs to be embraced further in order to combat this problem and identify those engaging in fraudulent activity easier.

He added: “Thorough card checks must be carried out before allowing workers on site and employers need to ensure workers have the correct qualifications for the work they do.

“More and more people are realising technology, such as a CSCS SmartCard, is a simple and cost effective way to do this.

“By simply placing the card into a reader or compatible device such as a tablet or smartphone, you can instantly check the validity of a card and the qualifications held by the card holder.

“There is still a lot of work to be done to increase the use of technology so that relying on visual card checks becomes a thing of the past.”