Numbers of HGV, bus and coach drivers could be boosted through proposed reforms to driver training rules, further supporting the UK’s vital supply chain and economic growth.
Some of the proposed changes aim to help make it more affordable and more efficient for drivers to renew their qualifications or return to the industry.
A new consultation launched proposes reforms to the Driver Certificate of Professional Competence, the professional qualification originally introduced by the EU that lorry, bus, coach, and minibus drivers are required to hold in addition to their driving licence.
The government is exploring how to best improve DCPC to increase flexibility and choice for drivers to help safeguard road safety, and support the industry in retaining and recruiting staff.
The key changes include offering in parallel to the existing lengthy training format, which will be reformed, 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 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.
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.”
DCPC is currently obtained by passing four tests and renewed by completing 35 hours of training every five years, which can cost up to £500 for each individual training.
While supportive of DCPC 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.
Road Haulage Association 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.”