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Prospect Archaeologists

Prospect / Diggers Forum Statement on CSCS changes

Joint Prospect and Diggers Forum Statement on the changes to CSCS site cards for archaeological workers

What is happening

From 1 October 2015 the following changes to the CRO card will be introduced: 

  1. All CRO cards issued from 1 October 2015 will expire on 30 September 2017* and are not renewable
  2. You will be expected to register for a nationally recognised construction related qualification before the card expires
  3. Only one occupation will be displayed on your CRO card from 1 October 2015
  4. CSCS will stop issuing CRO cards from 31 March 2017

*Please note: existing CRO cards issued before 1 October 2015 that expire after 30 September 2017 will remain valid until their expiry date

As many DF and Prospect members will be aware, the current CSCS card for Construction Related Occupations (CRO) used by professional archaeologists to gain access to construction sites for their work is being removed by the CITB due to “CRO cards…being used by site workers as the fastest route of entry to site without the need or commitment to be qualified” (CITB CRO statement- https://www.cscs.uk.com/applying-for-cards/cro-card-changes/). This has led to a series of discussions between CITB and CIFA, as the recognised professional body representing archaeologists, to ensure that archaeologists continue to be able to gain access to site within the boundaries set out by CITB to improve professionalism and health and safety across the construction industry. The outcome of this dialogue gives archaeologists four correct routes to access CITB sites:

  1. Apprentices' card – not currently available for archaeologists but will be once the Trailblazer Historic Environment Apprenticeship is approved, provided the Apprenticeship contains a basic H&S element. Card valid for 5 years. No H & S test required.
  2. Trainee card – available to students or trainees registered on a recognised training course. For an employers’ training scheme to be recognised by CSCS, it will need to be endorsed by CIfA. CIfA will design a framework around National Occupational Standards for employers to use. Endorsement will be free for CIfA Registered Organisations but non-ROs will be charged a fee. Card valid for 3 (?) years. Requires the basic (operative level) H & S test.
  3. Academically Qualified Person (AQP) card – available to archaeologists with an 'archaeology and heritage degree'. There is currently a lack of clarity from the scheme regarding what qualifies; to be resolved by CIfA defining a list of 'cognate' courses. For reasons of pragmatism, these will be very broadly defined initially in order to ease the transition following the withdrawal of the CRO card. Requires the Manager level H and S test. Valid for 5 years.
  4. Professionally Qualified Person (PQP) card - Will be available at three levels, equating to Operative, Supervisor and Manager (= PCIfA, ACIfA, MCIfA) - and with the three corresponding H & S tests (card to be clearly marked to indicate which level test had been taken). Approval has been gained for the PCIfA level card (agreed by FAME and CIfA as the priority). Mapping for ACIfA and MCIfA will be undertaken late 16/early 17. CIfA membership at appropriate level will need to be maintained in order for cards to be renewed. Card valid for 5 years.

While we are keen to bring the archaeological profession in line with other similar jobs in the construction industry, there is concern about how these changes will affect site workers if they are put through without a series of conditions attached for ROs and other employers.

It is firstly clear that the reason behind these changes is that CITB are attempting to eliminate individuals and companies seeking easy, quick and inappropriate CSCS cards for their employees, pushing through under-qualified individuals on the CRO or labourers Green Card that should be going through more rigorous training and testing on a different card. It is vitally important that it is made absolutely clear to all archaeological employers that this is not an option for their staff, and that all CITB affiliated sites should ensure that any archaeologist on site is in possession of one of the four cards stated above.

Secondly, and most importantly for site archaeologists, members across Prospect and DF are worried that these changes put the onus onto the individual site worker (excluding apprentices and trainees who gain their access through the training schemes they are in through their employer) to either complete the AQP test (should they have a degree or qualification that allows them to) or to apply through taking out CIFA membership through the PQP route. These changes in effect make membership of CIFA compulsory for those without a registered degree who wish to work on a construction site. We know thhere is an element of resentment among the non-CIFA members of the profession about this and we understand that.

The potential for a large proportion of individuals within commercial archaeology and those entering it to fall between the gaps is high, with many not currently having CIFA membership, a degree or either. A third group of individuals who may struggle to gain access to the scheme are foreign archaeologists, either with degrees outside of the UK which may not be recognised by CIFA or who find themselves unable to enter the UK profession without joining CIFA. These individuals, with site assistants being the largest group, would currently be forced to pay over £170- 1% of their pre-tax take home pay- just to get on to site (CIFA rates 2016-17- http://www.archaeologists.net/sites/default/files/2016_17-fees-and-subscriptions_1.pdf). This initial outlay of funds, prior to completing any work for their company, would be enough to put off potential commercial archaeologists at a time when we are apparently seeing a shortage of professional individuals (although as previous DF statements have suggested, this is more an issue of pay and conditions, rather than a lack of qualified people).

It is likely therefore that to continue to work, individuals will be forced to become members of CIFA, an outlay of wages many cannot afford, or are unwilling to make. We, as site archaeologists, are stuck in a devil’s cauldron situation: no other profession that requires membership of a professional body has the same issue of short term contracts and comparatively low wages that we do. Prospect and DF both fully support the professionalization of archaeology, and the alignment with other professions that these CSCS changes could allow but we note that the conditions of service in our profession do not yet match those with which we might compare ourselves. This is an issue on which both Prospect and the Diggers Forum continue to campaign around.

We therefore ask for the following:

1: That employers continue to ensure their employers are given all the appropriate training necessary for site work, according to their grade and tasks on site.

2: That CIFA enter into negotiations with all ROs that, as membership is now highly desirable, if not compulsory, the employers contribute sufficiently towards the costs of the relevant CIFA membership (we suggest this means the totally cost for those on or close to the minima).

3: That as part of this, ROs continue to implement recognised CPD logs and training to help their employees continue to develop to the standards set out by CIFA.

4: New and existing members of CIFA are encouraged to report any RO’s not adhering to CIFA regulations, and that perhaps the reporting procedure is reviewed

These policies would have four benefits: it will reduce any resentment towards CIFA for this situation; it would bring a large number of people into CIFA who previously were put off by the cost; it will stop a large number of people leaving the profession over these changes; and it will demonstrate that CIFA is at the forefront of protecting the interests of site archaeologists through an increased idea of professionalism.

Alongside this, Prospect will continue to campaign for higher wages to reflect this increased level of professionalization, with our aim to bring archaeologists up to the level of other professions on site, such as engineers and environmental specialists. This would hopefully work alongside the continued work of CIFA to bring in Chartered Archaeologist status to push up standards and wages across commercial archaeology.

October 2016