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Changes to MPQC Plant Operator Competency Scheme

Industry competency scheme to be operated in the open market from 1 April 2014

FOR many years, the industry’s scheme for assuring the competency of mobile- and fixed-plant operators (the MPQC Plant Operator Competency Scheme) has been successfully run by MPQC’s Skills Centre. However, following consultations with companies and providers it is considered appropriate for the scheme to be operated in the open market.

Therefore, the administration and management of the scheme is being transferred to the regulated MPQC Awarding Organisation with effect from 1 April 2014.


This will provide a number of benefits for the sector:

  • It will be visibly independent.
  • There will be a single scheme with common standards and checklists.
  • Rigorous audit checks will be applied by MPQC Awarding Organisation.
  • The scheme can be accessed by all, eg other training providers, employers etc (subject to the approval of MPQC Awarding Organisation).

Anyone carrying out plant assessments to award the red and blue cards of the plant scheme will undergo an initial approval, be required to demonstrate that they are operating to the exacting standards of the scheme, and pay for licencing and auditing fees to assist in ensuring the schemes standards are rigorously monitored.

The following FAQ’s will hopefully serve to clarify any questions or queries you have arising out of the changes to the scheme.

What will this mean for my company or my site?

  • You can continue to use MPQC’s Skills Centre for your plant training and assessments in order to obtain red and blue cards.
  • All current cards remain valid (subject to the usual renewal cycle).
  • Other companies may start to provide the red and blue card assessments – you can check these providers are valid by contacting MPQC Awarding Organisation direct on (0115) 972 6121 or by visiting our website at
  • All providers (including MPQC’s Skills Centre) will be accredited and rigorously audited to ensure the scheme operates to industry’s stated standards.

What will this mean for me as a plant operator?

  • Your current red or blue card will still be valid, providing that it is ‘in date’.
  • Your employer should be able to help with any queries or alternatively you can contact MPQC Awarding Organisation for clarification on any issues.

Will the scheme changes affect the current pricing?

  • It will be a free competitive market with approved providers setting their own fee structures. This should, however, provide more choice about who provides your plant training and assessments as other potential providers enter the scheme.

We don’t follow the Industry Plant Scheme – why should we?

  • The Extractive Industry’s scheme is very well established as a critical means of enabling plant operators and their employers to demonstrate their competence in operating specific items of equipment in a range of circumstances. MPQC Awarding Organisation will be happy to talk you through the benefits and practicalities of implementing the scheme within your company.
  • The Industry scheme also provides employers with the assurance of continuing competence and forms a crucial role in demonstrating the ongoing Continuing Professional Development (CPD) of the operator.

Can I still use my current provider of blue and red cards and assessments?

  • Yes, you can continue to use your current arrangements and/or provider(s), assuming that they wish to continue to offer the scheme following the transfer to MPQC Awarding Organisation with effect from 1 April 2014.
  • MPQC Awarding Organisation will maintain an up-to-date register of approved providers of the MPQC Plant Operator Competency Scheme and you can contact us at any time to check your provider is approved.

The Scheme is still being run by MPQC – I don’t see the difference!

  • The difference is subtle, but important: MPQC Awarding Organisation will now manage the scheme on behalf of the sector, avoiding any conflicts of interest, and approve all providers who wish to offer the MPQC Plant Operator Competency Scheme, providing that they meet the requirements of the scheme in terms of occupationally competent personnel, resources, systems and procedures.

For further information, contact the Awarding Organisation team on tel: (0115) 972 6121 or email:


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