By far the most widely recognised digger training is the card scheme run by the Construction Plant Competence Scheme.
The CPCS is the plant operators section of the CITB Construction Skills organisation funded mainly by the construction industry. Many large contractors insist that digger drivers carry the card to demonstrate that they have undergone training in machine competence and health and safety awareness, though there is no legal requirement to do so.
There are two types of card issued by the CPCS. The first red Training Route card is designed for new entrants, those with limited experience and operators who would benefit from digger driver training. The full blue or green competence card is obtained by the Direct Route for which operators must be over 21 years of age with at least three years general plant operating experience and two years experience on the category of plant named on the card. Blue cards are for machine categories that have an NVQ or SVQ training qualification available.
The first two steps to acquiring the full card are to pass the CPCS operator test and the CITB-Construction Skills Health and Safety Test. If successful you can apply for the red trained plant operator card which most large construction companies require before you can drive a digger on site and begin to acquire greater experience.
The next step in the training is to log 300 machine hours in the CPCS log book and complete the appropriate NVQ or SVQ qualification. At that point you can apply to become a full CPCS cardholder. The reverse of the card will list the categories of digger you have qualified to drive, for example, excavator 180 or 360 above/below 5 tonnes, wheeled or tracked loading shovel, telescopic handler, crawler tractor/dozer and skid steer.
Training must be carried out with a CPCS Registered Training Provider, though its worth checking several providers since the rates for digger driver training courses will vary widely.
Digger training courses are of varying durations dependent upon the level of prior experience and the type of digger. For instance, typically for 360 excavator training a complete novice might need upwards of two weeks training. This excavator training would be part theory based classroom learning and part practical 360 excavator training.
Excavator training courses do vary in length and examples given are for guidance only. JCB digger training, categorised by CPCS as 180 excavators, would also require approximately two weeks of tuition. Whereas, Telescopic Handlers, JCB Loadalls, Wheel Loaders and ‘Loading Shovels’ require less driver training, typically a one week course for beginners.
The Registered Training Provider will provide certificated evidence of your attendance at the course. They can also assess candidates for the CITB Construction Skills Health and Safety Test. National Vocational Qualification (NVQ) testing can be done via On-Site Assessment and Training (OSAT). This involves an NVQ assessor watching you operate your digger on site, speaking to supervisors and taking photographic evidence.