Build UK and the Civil Engineering Contractors Association believe they can save the industry up to £1bn by eradicating duplication and inefficiencies if fresh moves gain acceptance.
The multitude of schemes currently in operation sees around 180,000 specialist contractors producing over two million pieces of paper every year for 5,000 contractors.
As a first step, the trade bodies are aiming to sign-up prequalification scheme providers to a new Common Assessment Standard, based on the PAS 91 standard. This covers 10 key areas and includes desktop and site-based assessment criteria.
Prequalification bodies – Achilles, CHAS and Constructionline – have signed up to the Common Assessment Standard, marking a significant step towards the dream of a single prequalification system for all.
The deal means main contractors and subcontractor will only need to be certified by one of these recognised assessment bodies to meet basic prequalification criteria to bid for work.
Jo Fautley, Deputy Chief Executive of Build UK, said: “This new PQ system has been developed by industry, for industry, based on standards that clients, contractors and the supply chain have all agreed on.
“We look forward to the industry getting on board with it over the coming months so we can realise the efficiency gains for everyone’s benefit and boost overall productivity.”
A data sharing arrangement is now being developed to allow contractors to obtain prequalification information from any one of the recognised assessment bodies.
Contractors will be transitioning to the new system over the coming months.
The new system will ultimately allow for greater consistency and efficiency in how companies become pre-qualified for work at the first stage.
Ann Bentley, Chair of the Construction Leadership Council Business Model Workstream, said: “Companies will be able to demonstrate that they meet an agreed industry standard and clients and contractors will be able to rely on the certification.
“The CLC will be encouraging adoption of the revised standard throughout Government construction procurement.”
ECA’s Director of CSR Paul Reeve, deputy chairman of the steering group that drew up the standard, said: “It’s the answer to a very long-standing and expensive problem in construction and beyond, and so we actively support the CAS and encourage buyers and suppliers to engage with it.
“We expect the CAS to be of increasing benefit to both buyers and suppliers, and notably members of trade associations, where suppliers may find it easier to complete the CAS question set.”