Tuesday 25 February 2020

Brexit assumptions contributing to Driver CPC bottleneck

The second cycle of Driver CPC training for professional lorry drivers with acquired rights ends this September. With the continuation of the scheme having being earlier called into doubt by some because of Brexit, training providers are reporting another peak in demand for periodic training prior to the 9 September deadline, as the realisation has dawned that the requirement will not go away.

The Driver & Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) has told Transport Operator that, despite high compliance rates, its roadside enforcement officers are increasingly encountering drivers who believe that Driver CPC will not be required when the UK leaves the EU.

“This is wrong, and DVSA would encourage all professional drivers to make sure that they continue to hold a valid driver qualification card (DQC),” said the agency.

“A DQC will still be required in all exit scenarios for both domestic and international journeys, including as evidence of professional standards for drivers using European Conference of Ministers of Transport (ECMT) permits and for drivers driving under the Interbus Agreement.

“ It’s important, therefore, that drivers continue to undertake periodic training. With the September 2019 deadline fast approaching for many DQCs to be renewed, DVSA would encourage drivers, and their employers, to ensure that they complete their 35 hours periodic training.”

Andrew Garside, QHSE manager at Middlebrook Transport, said any hopes that peaks and troughs in demand might be smoothed out by an intake of new arrivals who qualified by examination during licence acquisition had been dashed.

“Recruitment in the last decade has been at rock bottom,” he reported.

Kevin Brown, who heads driver training development and compliance at Ferguson Transport & Shipping in Fort William, Scotland, added: “Recruitment is especially difficult, as none of the next generation want to work 60 hours per week.”

He maintains that any hopes that an increase in perceived professionalism would come to the industry through Driver CPC and make it more attractive have faded. “We need to come up with a better plan: better conditions, better benefits to make the industry more attractive. DCPC is all about promoting professionalism through effective driver training awareness and development; it was never meant to be about ‘bums on seats’.”

Meanwhile, Kevin Allen, managing director of Driver Link Training in Wigan, blames the Brexit effect for causing a trough in training demand five years ago, which has been followed by an inevitable spike.

“I remember five years ago when everyone thought DCPC wouldn’t stay; now it’s happening again,” he said.

“Something that is proven to increase road safety and generates the government money will stay.”

He reports that every Saturday training slot he offered to September has been booked up since May.

“It’s crackers! The ridiculous spike we’re in now through to the unbelievable lull that we will experience come October needs to change, and it won’t change until the ruling goes from 35 hours every five years to seven hours every year.”

Susan Case, director of UK Training Team in Dorset, said she had been able to persuade clients of the benefits of a more orderly approach: “We’ve been working closely with our companies over the last year to ensure come 9 September everyone’s compliant – therefore we’ve experienced no major panic. We are mega busy, but that’s to be expected and had been factored into the diary for the last 12 months.

“For those wonderful folk from a military background, we adopted the ‘seven Ps’ approach!”

Libby Hardie, director of Scotland’s Triffid Training, said there had been plenty of notice from the government that Driver CPC would remain, Brexit or not.

“Our accredited centre in Glasgow has seen a steady increase since January. We now run courses 20 days a month, as compared to four a month in November for individual drivers.

“Plenty of large logistics companies are still coming onboard. The government assured us CPC will stay regardless of a deal or not. They issued an article in November 2018 with all the legislative paperwork waiting for the official date to be announced.

“I don’t think the government will scrap something that increases road safety, and if anyone states they don’t feel it adds value to the driver, I would suggest you are booking with the wrong provider.”

Freelance trainer Kev Barker adds: “My CPC centre, Ashfield Logistics Training, has seen requests for courses rise over the last two years. Some businesses got in early to beat the last-minute rush towards the September deadline.

“The post grandfather-rights drivers do seem to be spreading their training, although not all, it has to be said. I think that drivers and businesses are coming to accept that the Driver CPC is here to stay.

“A number of my customers have made plans for one day per year for their drivers toward CPC. UK drivers will still be required to drive within the EU countries, so they accept that the CPC is required for this.

“Feedback from our courses also confirms that drivers are benefiting from these courses; becoming a more informed driver can only be a good thing. The initial negativity seems to be subsiding, with the realisation that updates on new techniques and legislation changes are benefits of group training and the sharing of best practice.”

Ian Bloomer, the founder of Transport Data Interchange in Clay Cross, Derbyshire, said: “We are running two five-day courses per month plus Saturdays and offsite training, as once again drivers/operators have left it to the last minute.”

Phil Toseland, who runs PJT Logistics Training in Derby, said: “I’m pleased to say, I am really busy right now, and hope it stays that way.”

He continues to develop new courses: “We have also just added first aid at work certification to our portfolio,” he reports.

Paul Wicks, driver trainer at Gordon Springate Transport Training in Kent, concludes: “We are really busy at moment, fully booked up to October. Once again Driver CPC training has been left to the last minute. We have been telling everyone the same this time round as last time – do one a year!”

Laura Nelson, managing director of Driver CPC training consortium RTITB, advised: “If used correctly, Driver CPC can be a valuable opportunity for employers to engage and retain professional LGV drivers whilst also driving down damage and compliance costs.

“If you are an employer with drivers facing many hours of training still to do, don’t panic, have a look at your operation, identify your top three costs and find courses and providers that will work with you to reduce those costs via Driver CPC.”

With over 3,000 approved Driver CPC courses available across the UK, drivers should be able to find training that meets their development needs, DVSA added.

“For example, bus and coach drivers might want to consider courses on customer service or best practice when accommodating disabled passengers,” advised the agency.

“Lorry drivers might want to focus on ensuring the safety of vulnerable road users or avoiding bridge strikes.”

More information about the availability of Driver CPC courses can be found here, at the gov.uk website.

Meanwhile, professional drivers can check how much periodic training they have done and when their DQC will be issued here.

Image DVSA Crown copyright

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