The Construction Plant Competence Scheme - CPCS

The Construction Plant Competence Scheme (CPCS), ‘The Scheme’, provides a registration card scheme acknowledged by industry for those involved in plant and equipment operations by recognising skills, knowledge and understanding, competence and qualifications. CPCS which is owned by The Construction Industry Training Board (The CITB) provides a single skills card for the plant sector of the construction industry. Since its launch in 2003 over 280,000 cards have been issued covering a wide range of plant categories. Its aim, in establishing a recognised competence standard, is to encourage construction and allied employers to use certificated and competent plant operators, and to provide certification for UK workers that could be accepted in Europe through agreements with other European national schemes to mutually recognise qualifications.


The Scheme is made up of a number of core elements, which are used to demonstrate the skills, competence and qualifications that determine eligibility for Scheme membership, such as:-


  • Training - through a variety of channels

  • Health, Safety and Environment - health, safety and environment awareness

  • CPCS Theory Test - underpinning knowledge and understanding

  • CPCS Practical Test - operating ability

  • SVQ and NVQ - operating competence vocational qualification

  • Logbook - on-going operating ability     

  • On-Site Assessment - on-going operating ability

  • CPCS Renewal Test - up-to-date knowledge and understanding 


The objective of the Scheme is to ensure that employers and plant operators can have confidence that they are meeting the required standards in health and safety legislation.

There are three types of card within the CPCS Scheme - the trained operator card, the competent operator card, and the tester card. Each of these cards requires theoretical and practical tests that can be taken at any approved site nationwide, or at one of the designated regional test centres. In addition, experience and expertise should be demonstrated through ongoing documentation, such as a professional logbook. 

The trained operator card, also known as the red card, is the first step, and this is issued for a non-renewable two-year period. A more advanced step, the competent operator card, also known as the blue card, is valid for five years and is renewable, making this the preferred card type for many plant operator positions that are to be held over a longer period of time.

The most advanced card type, the tester card, is issued to individuals who have demonstrated thorough knowledge and ability in relation to all plant operation environments, and this card signifies that an individual is qualified as a tester for the CPCS scheme. A temporary tester card, known as a black card, can be obtained as a provisional step towards this qualification.

Below is an outline schematic showing the qualifying routes to gain a trained operator and competent operator CPCS Card.

Competent Operators Card - AMTrainingHebrides

AM Training Hebrides is a CPCS Accredited Training Provider which also provides Level 2 Vocational Qualifications for General Construction Operators that entitles operatives to apply for the Blue Skilled CPCS Card.

The Construction Plant Competence Scheme - Courses Available
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