Driver CPC – a fundamental part of training the sector needs?

Driver CPC – a fundamental part of training the sector needs?

13 Jan 2022 Posted By James Evison

DfT has launched a review of the Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (DCPC) with the aim, it says, of updating and improving compulsory driver training. Roadway Editor Tony Hall asks the RHA's Duncan Buchanan, policy director – England & Wales, how the Association has responded.

The DCPC is looked on by some as a barrier to driver retention and recruitment. It is unpopular with drivers and the Association of Pallet Networks has pressed for a two-year suspension. What is the RHA’s view?

DB: We have called for a DCPC review before, but we also call now for immediate action because it is a barrier to retention. Drivers don’t want to spend five days in a classroom being taught, just to meet what they see as a trivial licencerequirement. That’s rather unfair, but it is a barrier.

We’ve suggested making a one- for-one arrangement where one module would allow someone to work for an extra year to complete the DCPC, so we do the best to retain the drivers we already have.

Longer term, we don’t agree that DCPC is not worth it. It is a fundamental part of the mix of road safety and training that the sector needs. If you think that vehicles themselves are going to be changing massively in the next 5, 10, 20 years, there is going to be elements of retraining as people move on to electrified vehicles, alternatively fuelled vehicles, and the new road regulations and safety rules that will inevitably follow.

There’s a whole range of changes that drivers are going to have to deal with, and be retrained for, and DCPC should be a fundamental building block on keeping drivers skilled and as safe as possible.

If the DCPC is to be reformed what is the most constructive way to do it?

DB: One of the big problems we have with it is the way the DCPC is constructed. People do five modules in a block right at the end after five years. We want to make it more consistent, so that someone does a module every year or the equivalent of one module. We’d also like to see half modules, so you can do half a day and come back a week or month later and do another half day, so there can be more flexibility.

Thinking needs to be done on compulsory modules. We don’t have an opinion on that, we need to see what our members say. At the moment once you’ve got an approved DCPC course anyone can do it at any time, there’s no mandatory parts of it, you don’t have to do road safety or vulnerable road users, or urban driving or fuel efficient driving, there’s a huge mix – which is right, but we need to ask ourselves whether there are some things that once in every five years people should do, as a matter of routine. So maybe one or two compulsory modules might be appropriate, even if they are part of a whole day.

How urgent is the need for reform?

DB: Reform has been needed for years. In 2019 we suggested some of these things we’ve mentioned, and they were not taken up. Now reform is needed urgently. We need to make the DCPC better for drivers, better for companies, and suitable for promoting road safety.

How do we ensure that safety, and the industry’s reputation for upholding it, is maintained in reform?

DB: The reputation of the industry is really important. I think we need to understand that DCPC is a tool to show and demonstrate that the industry is responsible and takes road safety seriously.

DCPC is a key plank in that, and we need to think of it as important to the reputation of drivers and the industry. When we think of the DCPC we should not think of it as a burden, we should think of it as one of the tools that we need to use to improve road safety, to keep the skills at the best level and for promoting the reputation of the sector, as a responsible share of the roads with everybody else.

We intend to go out to the membership very shortly and ask their opinions. We’ll also invite drivers to participate and will ask members to invite their drivers to participate. There have been calls from members to at least suspend it.

I understand when you’ve got a crisis in recruitment that’s fine for dealing with a short term crisis, but over the long term we have to deal with this properly and getting feedback will help inform us as we inform government.

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