Changes to HGV driver training rules to help recruitment

The Department for Transport (DfT) is launching a consultation on proposed changes to the Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC).

Ministers say changes to driver training rules for HGV, bus and coach drivers would be aimed at making it cheaper, shorter and more effective.

The Driver CPC or DCPC was originally introduced by the EU and is required to be held by lorry, bus, coach, and minibus drivers in addition to their driving licence.

Having left the EU, the Government is exploring how it could improve the testing regime in order to increase choice for drivers, safeguard road safety, and support the industry in retaining and recruiting staff.

The key changes include reforms to the lengthy training format, more flexibility with e-learning and a shorter ‘new periodic test’ which could save employees time and companies up to £460 per test in early DfT estimates.

Reforms to training as well as the new cheaper and shorter periodic test will offer an accelerated route for former drivers to return to the sector more easily, ministers claim.

Roads minister Richard Holden said: “Lorry, bus and coach drivers are some of our economy’s unsung heroes, keeping our goods flowing and ensuring people can hop on the bus to access shops, schools, hospitals and all the essential services they need. That’s why we must look at how we can support the continued growth of this industry.

“These reforms are yet another example of how we can make the most of our Brexit freedoms to make lorry and bus driver training, in some cases, cheaper and more proportionate so we can retain and attract more people to the sector and continue to grow our resilient supply chain.”

The Driver CPC is currently obtained by passing four tests and renewed by completing 35 hours of training every five years.

While supportive of Driver CPC in principle, the industry has raised concerns that in its current form the qualification is making it more difficult to retain and attract drivers to the sector, with high costs, poor flexibility and extended length of training among the main barriers to progress.

The new periodic test will be delivered by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) and will continue to meet existing training standards, it says.

Road Haulage Association (RHA) managing director, Richard Smith, said: “We welcome the news that DfT is consulting on proposed DCPC reform to offer more choice and flexibility for drivers.

“This is a key priority for us as we continue to look for ways to tackle skills shortages in the transport sector.

“We look forward to reflecting our members’ views in the weeks ahead.”

If implemented, reforms will establish a National DCPC for use in Great Britain and potentially Northern Ireland.

The existing regime, the International DCPC, will remain for travel to, from or within the EU and will continue to be recognised for journeys within the UK.

The consultation can be accessed here and runs until April 27.

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