Overview of the role

Working on rural and urban roads to repair damaged surfaces.

Highways maintenance skilled operative

Reference Number: ST0053

Details of standard

Occupational Profile

Highways Maintenance Skilled Operatives work for a variety of companies within the private sector (Utilities Companies, such as Electric, Gas and Water firms) and the public sector (Local Authorities, County Councils and Highways England).

Highways Maintenance Skilled Operatives will work on rural and urban roads (not including motorways) to repair damaged surfaces, using hand and power tools and pedestrian plant machinery. They work as part of a team carrying out the repairs and individually, when preparing the area for repair. Skilled Operatives must also be able to interpret and work to drawings and specifications when carrying out repairs to the highway. This work, using hand or power tools, could include repairs to potholes, replacement and reinstatement of pavements and kerbs, installing street ironworks and laying new surfaces, to ensure roads and pathways are suitable for driving of vehicles or pedestrians to walk safely on. They also use equipment to locate buried water, gas or sewer lines, and once identified excavate by hand around the line to stop any damage and disruption to services. The Skilled Operative will prepare, set up and work within Temporary Traffic Management on rural and urban roads, which allows for the movement and flow of traffic and pedestrian restrictions.

A Highways Maintenance Skilled Operative will undertake reactive and planned rural and urban roads maintenance and repair. They will work outside in all weathers and may be required to work at all times of the day and night at various locations. Working on rural and urban roads maintenance and repair can be dangerous so operatives need plenty of common sense and a high level of safety awareness, together with a disciplined and responsible approach whilst working with others. Understanding health and safety and environmental control will be essential to ensure safe working on rural and urban roads.


On completion the Highways Maintenance Skilled Operative will know and understand the following:

  • The principles of health, safety and welfare and how they must be applied in relation to their own work and others
  •  The responsibilities under current legislation (including Health and safety at Work Act 1974, Provision and Use of Workplace Equipment 1998, Manual Handling Operations regulations 1992) and official guidance (risk assessments, method statements) to undertake work
  • How to work in accordance with the National Highway Sector Schemes, Industry Codes of Practice, the New Roads & Street Works Act and other guidance relevant to the occupation
  • Understand the structure of the highway, civil engineering methods, construction technology and have knowledge of different road categories and types, construction materials and working methods
  • How to identify, locate and excavate around underground services such as gas and power cables to avoid strikes and loss of service


On completion the Highways Maintenance Skilled Operative will be able to:

  • Apply appropriate health, safety and environment procedures when working on the road
  • Plan and undertake work practice productively when carrying out repairs to potholes, pavements and kerbs, and laying new surfaces on rural and urban roads
  • Read, interpret and work to drawings, specifications and highways information Highways information will include details on the use of safety barriers, cones, traffic flow and safety zones to work within, whilst employed on the highway
  • Use underground cable locators to identify buried water, gas, sewer lines or other utility services, and once identified excavate by hand around the line to stop any damage and disruption to services
  • Apply safe working practise for moving, storing, lifting and handling of resources
  • Excavation and reinstatement of the highway by carrying out maintenance and repairs, including removal of material within the road or road side using hand or power tools and reinstatement of the area using concrete, screeds, sub-base, aggregates or bituminous materials
  • Install Street Ironworks (drain access covers and frames and gully gates situated on the road) to given work instructions
  • Prepare and operate powered tools or pedestrian plant, machinery or equipment for use on roads. This will include machinery for generator’s, pumps, pedestrian operated plant (e.g. pushed roller), mixers, compressors and self–powered tools (pneumatic drill)
  • Prepare, set up and work within temporary traffic management (using cones and barriers to section off elements of the road from vehicles and pedestrians) on urban and rural roads, whilst excavating and re-instating the highway
  • Work with other sub-contractors on larger schemes (e.g. traffic management).


On completion the Highways Maintenance Operative will be expected to demonstrate:

  • Effective communication: oral, written, listening, the use of signalling, body language, and presentation
  • Team work: work effectively with others with limited supervision
  • Independent working: take responsibility for completion of their own work
  • Logical thinking: use clear and valid reasoning when making decisions to undertake the work instructions
  • Working effectively: undertake the work in a reliable and productive manner
  • Time management: use own time effectively to complete the work instructions to schedule
  • Adaptability: be able to adjust to changes in work instructions
  • Assertiveness and confidence: able to resist pressures to work following unsafe practices
  • Respect: apply equality, diversity and inclusion in dealing with others
  • Commitment to safe working



The typical duration of this Apprenticeship is 18 to 24 months.


This Apprenticeship is at Level 2.


Apprentices without Level 1 in English and maths will need to achieve this level and take the test for level 2 English and maths prior to taking the end-point assessment.

For those with an education, health and care plan or a legacy statement the apprenticeships English and maths minimum requirement is Entry Level 3 and British Sign Language qualification are an alternative to English qualifications for whom this is their primary language.

Standard Review

This standard will be reviewed after three years.



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Status: Approved for delivery
Level: 2
Reference: ST0053
Version: 1.0
Date updated: 03/01/2023
Approved for delivery: 10 August 2018
Route: Construction and the built environment
Typical duration to gateway : 18 months (this does not include EPA period)
Maximum funding: £9000
LARS Code: 336
EQA Provider: Ofqual

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Employers involved in creating the standard: Ringway, Kier, Island roads, colas, cormac, viaem, MorganSinal, Volkers, Skanska, SWH Group, BAM Nuttall, CITB, ICE, IHE

Version log

Version Change detail Earliest start date Latest start date Latest end date
1.0 Approved for delivery 10/08/2018 Not set Not set

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