The Construction Skills Certification Scheme was set up in the mid to late 1990’s to help raise the level of health and safety awareness and demonstrate occupational competency in the construction industry. Primarily aimed at workers in the construction industry at all levels, there has also been a recognised need for archaeologists who work on, or near, construction sites to possess a CSCS card. It is now often a condition for employment by archaeological companies in the UK to include CSCS card accreditation in the ‘desired’ or ‘essential’ criteria for prospective field archaeological job applicants, although companies will often sponsor a candidate through the process if they already work for the unit.
Individuals who take the test must undergo a Health, Safety and Environmental exam to demonstrate their competency, and depending on the type of card applied for, may also undergo other exams. The 2009 online BAJR Guide 28 deals with the ‘CSCS Card for Archaeologists’, helping to highlight the relevant information needed to take the test. A change in the testing of CSCS applicants from April 2012 means that there are added elements to the exam. This includes a behavioural module, where the candidate will be tested on a lifelike situation in which candidates will be tested on their reaction to an unfolding case study.
Although there are a range of CSCS cards aimed at the general workman to the specialist and managers (such as the Black and Red cards), the field archaeologist will only need the White/Grey Card, which is a general construction relation occupation card. The CSCS card is valid for 5 years, and after that period a re-test is needed. In the UK the test and the certification to gain the CSCS card currently costs £30, although archaeological units are often willing to pay this administration fee, and, if you are jobseekers allowance, the job centre can in some circumstances help to fund the cost for the test.
The CSCS test can be organised via your local council, and whilst revision materials can be found online (although they are quite limited) it is best to either loan or to buy a specific manual to revise from. To strengthen your application for archaeological jobs in this competitive market, it is highly recommended that you gain this certification, as a well as a full clean driving licence. Although a part of the industry will see the the rise of the CSCS as an encroachment of health and safety legislature, it has helped to raise the standards of health and safety across the board- undoubtedly helping to prevent accidents and save lives.
- The guide for the CSCS Archaeology can be found at BAJR Guide 28 (2009): ‘CSCS Card For The Archaeologist’, detailing all relevant information, and what to expect on the test.
- The UK official website can be found at CITB Construction Skills, with videos to watch on the updated April 2012 behavioural modules.