The government has announced a “sweeping review” to improve compulsory ongoing training for HGV and bus drivers as it continues to try to ease the shortage of lorry drivers.
With a gap of up to 100,000 drivers, according to the Road Haulage Association (RHA), transport secretary Grant Shapps has turned his focus on EU-mandated refresher training that some in the industry believe is making drivers quit.
Drivers need to undergo five days of periodic training every five years to remain qualified to drive HGVs and buses. Many have to fund their Driver Certificates of Professional Competence (DCPC) themselves leading some to leave the industry.
No cost barrier
Shapps said the government is to look at how the process can be updated to reduce the burden on drivers and ensure it doesn’t act as a barrier to working in the sector.
“No driver should be out of pocket or out of work through no fault of their own,” he said.
The DCPC review is the latest in a raft of 30 measures the government has taken to support the haulage sector and encourage drivers to return to the job, the Express reports.
“These measures are working – there is no backlog of HGV licence applications and we’re seeing over a thousand more people than normal apply for a licence each week,” added Shapps.
According to the government, streamlined testing process has increased the number of weekly HGV tests available by 90% and training for up to 5,000 new drivers through skills bootcamps has been announced.
The DVLA has processed more than 40,000 HGV and vocational licence applications in four weeks, with applications that don’t require complex medicals being turned around in five working days, with no backlogs
The government claims there has been a 90% increase in the number of people requesting application packs for vocational licences each week.
Training subsidy coming?
According to Trans Info, the industry has been calling for the DCPC to be scrapped, limited, or suspended.
A more likely situation is that the government will fund or subsidise the training, it suggests, as the training requirement is “baked in” to the UK’s deal with the EU.
However, in recent weeks, haulage associations in Denmark, Germany and Hungary have all urged the EU to exempt experienced drivers from the CPC requirements. If there is consensus, it could be changed to help alleviate the driver shortage.
The government has made 5,000 short-term visas available to EU drivers to work in Britain, and according to ITV, around a half have been taken up.