Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Driver CPC backlog as second round of training begins . . .


Driver CPC backlog as second round of training begins

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As training providers began looking towards the 2019 deadline for the second block of Driver CPC periodic training for large goods vehicle (LGV) drivers, it remained apparent from testimony received byTransport Operator that by no means everybody in scope of the regulations had met the first deadline.

While the vast majority had been fully trained by 9 September, and most of the rest are taking urgent steps towards becoming so, there are still some drivers and operators who appear to have let the issue pass them by.

By the deadline, some 664,000 drivers had completed the requisite 35 hours of training, leaving an estimated 10,000 or so unqualified.

The Road Haulage Association highlighted an issue previously commented upon by Transport Operator: a very late realisation among operators holding restricted licences, including some local authority fleets, that the legislation did, in fact, apply to them, even though their vehicles might operate under UK rather than EU drivers’ hours regulations and/or not carry third-party goods.

The Driver & Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) has also warned that drivers who were issued with their car licences prior to 1996 and have a ‘C1’ entitlement allowing vehicles up to 7.5 tonnes to be driven, are now no longer entitled to drive an LGV professionally without the Driver CPC unless covered by an exemption.

Meanwhile, it appears that many training organisations are still handling ‘stragglers’: drivers who missed the deadline either because they did not know about the legislation, did not understand it or thought that it would not be enforced. Many of the latecomers had no option other than to undertake it in one block of five days.

Derek Broomfield, managing director at training provider Novadata, said demand for Driver CPC training was still extremely busy post-deadline, and that he expected that situation to continue for the rest of 2014.

“We’re fully booked up for [the first week of October],” he told Transport Operator. “We’ve had some drivers who’ve been in every day this week, doing the full 35 hours’ training, who don’t want to be here, saying it’s too much.

“So we’re trying to encourage operators to spread out their training in future, and just do one day a year over the five-year period, so that it becomes something drivers can enjoy and engage with, rather than an inconvenience.”

While concrete figures are unavailable, Mr Broomfield estimates that as many as 10 per cent of truck drivers in scope of Driver CPC may have failed to acquire it thus far – with a significant proportion of the culprits likely to be drivers of vehicles weighing between 3.5 and 7.5 tonnes.

“In a recent session we asked twelve drivers how many of them knew someone who didn’t have the Driver CPC, and all of them put their hands up,” he said.

Some of those without the DCPC were relying on exemptions – for example, that which exempts drivers carrying equipment or material to be used in the course of their work, provided driving is not the main part of their job.

But he said the validity of some claimed exemptions was questionable, and ultimately likely to be tested in court.

He added that drivers were frequently unaware of the periodic nature of the scheme, assuming that once the initial 35 hours of training were over, the certification was theirs for life.

“We’ve had truck drivers in for an ADR course this week, and asked them if they wanted to book in for their next round of Driver CPC. And some of them are saying: ‘We’ve already got it!’ There’s a lack of understanding that they’ll need to complete another 35 hours’ training by 2019.

“What’s also interesting is that very few bus and coach drivers [for whom the initial deadline was September 2013] have started training for their next five-year period over the last 12 months. We’re therefore concerned that lessons aren’t being learned from the last-minute rush that has taken place this time round.”

One week after the deadline Andy Wood, the operations director at Viamaster Training, said he was still getting demand for five-day courses from drivers who had not undertaken any training at all.

“We are fully booked with 20 drivers next week and for two out of three week-long courses in October. And despite the current driver shortage, there are drivers out there who cannot take up job offers because they do not have a Driver CPC.”

In terms of the next round of training, he said: “We have a five-day course running 5-10 January 2015. I’ve taken a booking from an exhibition company with 11 drivers who are always quiet in January and normally have a two-week shutdown over Christmas. They’ve decided to do their next cycle of Driver CPC then, giving them their CPC cards until 2024.”

There are different approaches from other operators, according to Mr Wood.

“Company clients are mixed in their approach to the next round of Driver CPC. Some having experienced the chaos of the last-minute dash to get their employees through CPC want to take a more structured approach of one module a year.

“Others think political pressure will see CPC scrapped. All want a more varied and flexible approach to modules: few want to repeat the same five as last time.”

Yorkshire-based trainer Lesley O’Brien, who is a partner in Freight Train, said she had taken a call from a company that had just become aware of the Driver CPC one week after the deadline. And she was still training people seeking to complete their 35 hours as quickly as possible.

Jason Whitelaw, a director at UGet Training of Newcastle upon Tyne, said that while they were still getting a few stragglers in, there was “nothing earth-shattering” about post-deadline demand.

Nick Rees, the managing director of WTTL in Swindon, reported that he was delivering “mop-up training until October 17”. But, worryingly, he had just taken a call from a delivery company that had recently heard that their drivers “might have to do something called a CPC!”

He had noticed a trend towards independent drivers and operators taking a more structured approach next time. Self-financing drivers wanted to piggy-back Driver CPC compliance onto recognised qualifications that would make them more desirable to employers.

“They are looking to upgrade licences, do HiAb and lift-truck qualifications and ADR courses, etc,” he said. “We’ve got several clients now who left it to their drivers to sort our first time around but are now facilitating courses and looking to do the first one for the next cycle of training this side of Christmas.”

Driver Hire is a nationwide network of franchised driver agencies that also provides Driver CPC training. It recently announced an all-time record trading week, citing feedback from its offices suggesting that one of the reasons for the strong performance was cover for drivers undertaking last-minute training.

“A number of our offices have reported that they are running courses in September and October to help them get unqualified drivers through the required 35 hours’ training,” the company said.

It also reported that evidence of compliance with Driver CPC was being explicitly requested by its driver hire customers.

“One national customer has asked us for written confirmation that the drivers we supply are Driver CPC-qualified.

“Another office tells us that most customers are checking that drivers are qualified when they book them, and ask to see their card or confirmation that the driver has completed 35 hours of training if their card hasn’t arrived.”

Paul Farmer, who holds the London South West franchise, said: “We are still finding there are some drivers coming in who haven’t completed it. We also ran several five-day courses and towards the deadline they were hugely in demand with last-minute panicking people.”

John Pearson, joint owner of HJ Pearson & Sons, an international haulage company based in Suffolk that also offers third-party Driver CPC training, reported an interesting experience that flew in the face of the logic that the training would best be undertaken at the rate of one day a year.

“We ran several week-long training events prior to the September deadline,” he said.

“These proved very successful and enjoyable. We took the trouble to question the groups at the end of the week to gauge their approach towards training in the future years.

“We were surprised at the number of delegates who took the view that, if what they had just experienced was available, they would happily wait five years and then repeat the process.”

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