Tuesday 25th Oct 2016 - Logistics Manager

Driver CPC – threat or opportunity?

The Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (Driver CPC) is now becoming a reality. The legislation, which requires an initial qualification for new drivers and for HGV drivers to participate in 35 hours of training over a period of five years, will be introduced on 10th September, and the more enlightened companies are taking the approach that if it is indeed something that has to be done then why not make the most of it.

There has been much debate over how the directive is handled. Skills for Logistics has held a series of events, over the past 18 months, which has seen the general attitude towards Driver CPC swing from “let’s not make this too prescriptive”, a request that was supported initially by many within the industry and its representative bodies, to “why is this not more specific in its requirements?”

The less prescriptive version is what we have, as we start working with the new piece of legislation. The training is not stipulated and the requirement is based on attendance rather than a qualification. The training is grouped under three headings – safe & fuel efficient driving; legal requirements; and health & safety, service and logistics.

The good news is that it allows companies to train their drivers according to real business needs. However, more recently it has come to light, through our events and employer consultations, that the lack of specification regarding assessment and qualification is something of a conundrum for the sector.

We advise companies to take advantage of this training requirement, to work with training providers to get the most out of the courses on offer and to seek assessment as part of the training their drivers take part in. While it has been demonstrated, through our own SkillsPay campaign (www.skillsforlogisitics.org/skillspay), that a business can see bottom line benefits through effective training, this legislation provides a real opportunity for employers to see these benefits for themselves.

For example, Winfield Transport saw an increase in miles per gallon across the fleet, by an average of six per cent due to more economical driving, and benefited from a reduced accident rate leading to its insurers providing more flexible terms. The business has experienced either no increase or actual reductions for three years and now gets paid a substantial yearly rebate for low claims experience.

Our recent employer consultation on Driver CPC demonstrated that the sector is now more aware of the legislation and the potential benefits it may bring. Some 89 per cent think it will lead to an increase in the economic awareness of drivers, for example, in terms of fuel savings and reduction in vehicle wear and tear, and 87 per cent see a potential benefit in improvements in road safety.

Employers commented that it could provide a real opportunity to ensure that drivers are trained and developed in the way that other staff / professionals are and (based on the fact that drivers are an ageing workforce with 53 per cent aged 45 and over), those who have not been involved in training for some time will benefit from refresher training. The Department for Transport is considering including eco-driving as a mandatory part of Driver CPC periodic training as a way of accelerating compliance with environmental targets.

Employers that already train their staff can align it to the Driver CPC. If training is developed appropriately some of the courses can be mapped towards certain qualifications such as the Scottish / National Vocational Qualifications. In doing so the driver benefits from getting a recognised qualification and employers know that their drivers are trained to a high (industry) standard. Eighty-two per cent of the employers responding to the consultation were aware that in certain circumstances the Driver CPC can count towards a vocational qualification – this route would go some way in benefiting the business and achieving the aim of helping to accredit the skills of professional drivers.

The logistics sector is not alone in this legislation – it has been applicable to drivers of Passenger Carrying Vehicles for the past 12 months, and while the logistics sector is different in its nature perhaps there are some lessons to be learnt.

Driver CPC offers the logistics sector a great opportunity to make training work for its business needs and to develop the skills of its drivers, ultimately having an impact on the professionalism of the sector, and that can only be a good thing can’t it.

More details: www.drivercpc-periodictraining.org