CPCS Training – How much training do I need?
How much training do plant operators need?
If you have little or no experience in your chosen plant category, it is unlikely that you will pass any CPCS test without training. Preparation and choosing the right experience level in your
category is a good investment for increasing your chances of a first-time pass.
CPCS Course Categories
There are over 60 CPCS course categories available for plant operators to sit under the CPCS scheme; the most common categories are
It is important to know which category or categories you need before booking, being as specific as possible within each category where different endorsements relating to the type, height or load may be available. Candidates often choose to sit one category at a time, so they can focus most effectively– this is also the most cost-effective option.
There are two key routes within the CPCS scheme- the ‘Red’ card route and the ‘Blue’ card route. The ultimate aim of the CPCS training scheme is to get all plant operators qualified with Blue cards to NVQ level.
Red Card Courses
If you have very little or no experience in the category of plant that you wish to train in, then a Foundation/Novice Red card course is the best option. The course will involve both practical and theory training prior to the CPCS theory and practical technical tests.
The Experienced Worker Red card course only includes theory training with no practical element. That means to do this course you are expected to be competent in the practical aspects of your chosen plant machinery, so you will need to have some previous experience.
Completion of either the above courses will result in a Trained Operator qualification, which is the minimum requirement many construction companies ask for. Red cards are only valid for two years and cannot be renewed.During this time the worker must gain experience and the sign up to complete an NVQ to achieve their Blue card).
Blue Card Courses
Blue card courses are the more advanced option, as successful completion results in a Competent Worker qualification.
To achieve a Blue card, candidates have to complete an NVQ which will consist of an assessor visiting the candidate on site several times across approximately nine months to gather evidence for an NVQ portfolio. Once this NVQ has been successfully completed, candidates will receive a Blue card which is valid for five years.
Any CPCS ‘Red’ card course regardless of experience will ask you to undertake both theory and practical testing.
The theory past must be passed first. It consists of a verbal exam, in which assessor examines the operative’s theoretical knowledge of the plant category they are working with. It includes details such as maximum and minimum load weights, stability information and where and when the plant should be used.
Once the theory test has been passed, then the practical tests can betaken. The delegate is asked to operate the piece of plant machinery and their performance is then assessed on their skill at driving and operating it. They will be asked to complete a number of tasks and manoeuvres showing that they can safely operate the plant to the standard which will be expected on site.There is a time limit for this part of the test.
Once the tests have both been taken and passed, the candidate then receives the CPCS Trained Operator card.
A valid concern but hopefully not one many have to worry about, you canre-sit both the theory and practical tests if you fail. However, if you have booked both tests for the same day and fail the theory test, you will not be allowed to proceed to the practical test and refunds are not issued. There will be additional charges associated with re-sits.
Location and Costs
Finding the right category in a location that is suitable for you can be tricky! Online training providers use a dynamic search function which shows you courses in your area and the dates they are available, plus give an idea of costs.
CPCS training can be costly, especially for the private individual(further info on this here).Although prices will differ slightly across different training providers,locations and categories, the testing alone, without any training preparation,can cost over £500.00 + VAT. Companies registered for the CITB levy may be eligible to claim some of this cost back.
Training providers do often offer packages of training and testing to suit all experience levels and costs vary dependent on location, experience and category.
Essential Information Required
When you contact your training provider to book your chosen course,they will need the following information from you:
- Full Name
- Date of Birth
- CITB Number
- National Insurance Number
- The date you passed your CSCS Touch Screen Test (TST)
You must have passed the CSCS health and safety touch screen test (TST) for the category you wish to train in within the last 2 years before you can been rolled onto a CPCS training course. CSCS TSTs are available for core,managerial and professional and supervisor levels. You can contact the CSCS directly to book.
In addition, the CPCS needs to be notified of your test before you complete it, so it is advisable to book the test a minimum of a week in advance to allow for this.
Please note, it is important not to confuse the 2-year time limit for training with the 5 year validity of your CSCS TST to grant you access to site.
Other Important Information
- The CPCS training scheme has been set up by the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) to promote competence in operators of plant machinery. It is also known as the Construction Plant Competency Scheme.
- If an operative holds a card for the A40 Slinger Banksman and then completes an A61 Appointed Persons – Lifting Operations, they will be eligible for the A62 Crane / Lifting Operations Supervisor as well.
- For most categories, an operative CSCS touch screen test is sufficient, however for A61 Appointed Person – Lifting Operations a managerial and professional (MAP) CSCS TST is needed.
- A supervisor CSCS TST is needed for the A62 Crane / Lifting – Operations Supervisor
- There can be confusion between the two types of ‘slinging’ and whether the Slinger Signaller course is suitable for your job role.
- - Vehicle slinging is directing vehicles to the correct place,
- - Crane slinging concerns directing loads correctly.