Proposed changes to training and a cheaper, shorter periodic test could help drivers to remain in or return to the sector.
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.
The new consultation launched today (2 March 2023) proposes reforms to the Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (DCPC), a professional qualification originally introduced by the EU that lorry, bus, coach, and minibus drivers are required to hold in addition to their driving licence.
With the UK’s newfound freedoms having left the EU, 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.’
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.
Safety is at the heart of the proposals, as the new periodic test will be delivered by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) and will continue to meet existing training standards to ensure that UK’s roads remain among the safest in Europe.