Closing The Loop On Liquid Roofing Training

Chris Bussens, training coordinator at the Liquid Roofing and Waterproofing Association (LRWA), explains the benefits of completing full training in liquid waterproofing and how to go about it.

It is estimated 224,000 more workers will be needed to meet expected output growth of more than 20 per cent by 2019. In roofing alone, the Annual Recruitment Requirement (ARR) for skilled roofers is estimated to be more than 700 operatives per year in the UK, according to the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB).

We all know the skills shortage is prominent in our industry, and lack of training can have a knock-on effect when trying to recruit a skilled workforce. Which is why gaining a NVQ Level 2 liquid roofing qualification which allows for application of a Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) blue, ‘Skilled Worker’ card, is so important.
This article will explain the journey to NVQ L2, which can begin with the Basic Competency Program (BCP), and the importance of closing the training loop.

The Basic Competency Programme (BCP)

The labour shortage is something the LRWA recognised several years ago which led the association to develop a new, manufacturer-led training course – the Basic Competency Programme (BCP).

This was initially run as a trial with LRWA manufacturer members and following its success, was also quickly adapted by other disciplines in the roofing sector.

As one of the most significant improvements in training, and a first for the industry, the BCP provides exposure to further training to NVQ level. It also acknowledges the contribution of manufacturers towards providing a skills base through training in the use of their materials to satisfy the requirements of the red, ‘Experienced Worker’ CSCS card.

CSCS Cards Explained

Since the BCP started, more than 700 operatives have completed the training, yet less than 100 have collected a red, ‘Experienced Worker’ CSCS card – which is valid for three years.

The red card cannot be renewed after three years, as operatives are encouraged to enrol for and complete an NVQ L2, which allows operatives to gain a blue, CSCS ‘Skilled Worker’ card.

For many years, the green CSCS ‘Construction Site Operative’ card was incorrectly used, often seen as an ‘easy’ way to gain access to site and many unskilled operatives were working on projects without the adequate training, potentially leading to substandard work. This made it difficult for contractors to use CSCS cards as a reliable method to check site workers had the appropriate skills, and has since been reviewed. This is also the case for the white, ‘Construction Related Occupation’ CSCS card, which will cease to exist in September 2017.

It is the common misconception that CSCS cards are not required or asked for before working on site, but these recent changes have put more pressure on roofing contractors to ensure operatives have obtained the correct skills card for the job. Organisations such as Build UK – the leading representative organisation for the UK construction industry – is also starting to insist on the correct CSCS skills card before access to site.

This applies not only in the new build sector, but Local Authorities and the refurbishment sector should also impose skills cards, and can already be added to the specification commitment for housing association and local authority projects.

The Route to NVQ L2

In the last four years, 120 operatives registered onto a NVQ L2 Diploma in Liquid Waterproofing, delivered through CITB, with 87 achieving their qualification so far.

Yet, the LRWA has seen a breakdown in the continuous upskilling in the liquid waterproofing market, as well as other roofing disciplines. Following completion of the BCP and application of the red CSCS card, many operatives simply do not register for the NVQ qualification.

For contractors, it is extremely important to complete a ‘Profiling Document’ after BCP training, providing information on existing experience, which can be obtained through the LRWA and will advise on the best route to take to obtain NVQ L2.

There are three ways to achieve an NVQ L2 dependent on experience, which will ultimately allow operatives to apply for a blue, ‘Skilled Worker’ CSCS card.

Specialist Applied Skills Programme (SAP)

A SAP is designed for operatives with less than two years’ experience and is a fully grant-aided course if CITB registered. Operatives of any age can undertake the SAP, which takes two years to complete.

The LRWA has delivered a total of 30 SAP and Special Upskilling Programmes (SUP) to candidates in the last four years, all of which have gone to achieve an NVQ L2 in Liquid Applied Membrane Roofing.

On completion, each candidate will achieve an NVQ Level 2 qualification, which will enable them to obtain a blue CSCS card. The SAP requires a minimum of 26 days of classroom-based learning with the remaining instruction and assessment training completed on site.

Special Upskilling Programme (SUP)

The Special Upskilling Programme (SUP) is also a grant-supported course delivered by the LRWA to provide appropriate skills necessary for experienced operatives in the roofing sector. Contractors can receive up to £2,000 of funding towards this training, if registered with the CITB.

The course, which takes approximately five – sixteen days to complete dependent on experience which is assessed using the Profiling Document, can be taken in a single block or over several days and following training, candidates are assessed on-site at NVQ Level 2 to complete the SUP.

Onsite Assessment & Training (OSAT)

Finally, the Onsite Assessment & Training (OSAT) is specially designed for experienced roofing contractors with many years’ working on the roof, but may not have any formal qualifications. This is a simple, fast and effective route to obtaining a relevant NVQ diploma. With no courses to attend, assessment and any training is carried out on-site, meaning there is minimal disruption to everyday work activities. This option can also be grant-aided, again, if CITB registered.

Closing the Loop

The LRWA cannot express enough the importance of completing a Profiling Document and applying for further training to gain NVQ L2 after completing a BCP course. For liquid applied training, it’s always advisable to seek advice from the LRWA – a recognised industry body – to deliver specialist training led by an experienced team. More information about training can be found on the LRWA website.