Driver CPC review: Early work based around more flexibility

Driver CPC review work first focuses on flexibility

A review of Driver CPC (DCPC), announced by the government in November, will not bring a major overhaul of how periodic training is delivered. Instead, it will consider defined aspects of DCPC, beginning with adaptations to better suit operators and drivers through greater flexibility.

The approach has been disclosed by the Confederation of Passenger Transport (CPT), which is one of the bodies that is involved in the review. CPT says that the first stage of the process will be set against the current shortage of vocational drivers before work moves on to other elements of DCPC.

From a high-level perspective, the review is being conducted to:

  • Increase the standing of DCPC training among drivers
  • Encourage new entrants to vocational driving sectors
  • Grow the value of the training to drivers and increase skill levels and professionalism, including to support the safety of the public.

“There will be no sweeping changes,” says CPT Operations Manager Mark Purchase, who leads the Confederation’s contribution to the review. No appetite for wholesale upheaval exists among panel members and there is zero chance of DCPC being dropped entirely.

The first round is looking at two areas of DCPC: What improvement can be made to how the 35 hours’ training over five years is packaged into modules, and how DCPC applies to staff that return to the vocational sectors with a lapsed Driver Qualification Card (DQC).

At the time of writing, no agenda had been set for the second meeting. CPT is keen to see it involve discussion of how DCPC applies to non-professional drivers. Such work forms part of the review scoping document and thus the Confederation expects it to feature in due course.

Review looks for greater Driver CPC course flexibility

Currently the only latitude allows a standard seven-hour module to be split into 3.5-hour sessions on consecutive days. Drivers and operators would benefit from more flexibility in how they may break down the required hours, says Mr Purchase. CPT has fed into the review that it wants the option of a ‘bite size’ approach. That could enable training to be delivered in chunks of two hours or less, with no requirement for sessions to be held on consecutive days.

That, adds Operations Director Keith McNally, would better enable operators to schedule training around existing workloads. The current 3.5-hour option is not always ideal for that, he says.

Additionally, CPT believes that not every module should necessarily last seven hours. Allowing another subject to be introduced within that duration forms part of discussions. However, the Confederation does not wish to see a defined list of topics introduced. Mr McNally uses EU drivers’ hours as an example of why; while they are relevant to staff in the coach sector, that is generally not the case for bus drivers.

“We are arguing for as much flexibility as possible so that the training is used to cover topics that drivers and operators find useful,” he adds. Those parties will be given a say in the review process via surveys. The first, for operators, was sent on Friday 3 December and others will follow.

Staff returning to the industry considered in Driver CPC review

Handling returning vocational drivers with no valid DQC is an important part of the first review stage. Mr Purchase says the approach to that will centre on “trying to find a balance.” If a driver has been away for a modest amount of time, it may be appropriate for them to undertake one seven-hour module to be considered initially qualified, then joining a normal five-year cycle.

“But if they have been out of the industry for 15 years and have never done any DCPC training, it could be right for them to undertake more initial training,” he continues.

In a similar vein, CPT wants to see consideration of whether 35 hours every five years is appropriate for part-time drivers who do the same work every day. While it says that 35 hours may be right for a full-timer, the Confederation has raised how a member of staff employed only for a home-to-school contract does not necessarily benefit from the same approach.

What of remote DCPC delivery?

Separate to the above work, discussions with DVSA are underway around remote DCPC training. While it was forced upon the Agency in 2020, DVSA had been reluctant for such a change to be adopted permanently.

That approach may now have softened, says Mr McNally. Both DVSA and JAUPT have come to understand that virtual delivery can be worthwhile in some circumstances, although as with talk of how seven-hour modules can be better broken down, a measured approach is required.

“Both bodies now recognise the value of remote DCPC training, and our discussions indicate that there is no intention of turning it off,” he continues. But some modules cannot be covered properly in a virtual manner. It is important that any eventual permanent approval for online delivery is utilised responsibly.

Further dialogue separate to the review process concerns whether current DCPC cycles could be extended by a year. CPT believes that some training delivery is lagging because of other pressures within the industry and that a 12-month extension would be beneficial.

The DCPC review is expected to report in the second half of 2022.