Continual Professional Development (CPD)
Many changes to the way that road transport in the UK is governed have taken place, many are to come. The implications for transport managers (TMs) who haven’t kept up to date are potentially serious.
However, members of our institute already have a head start.
And, the changes mean that the institute has an important part to play for new members as it is already ‘delivering the goods’.
As part of the increasing crackdown on non-compliant operators - and to raise and maintain standards of the compliant - the Traffic Commissioners (TCs) have made it clear that they expect TMs to undergo Continual Professional Development (CPD).
In many other professions, including some non-road transport fields, CPD is already an accepted - and expected – part of the role.
Indeed, for some professionals, CPD is required to maintain an individual’s position or role.
Times have changed since the introduction of the TM Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC) more than three decades ago.
The early, very basic syllabus and examination has been enhanced and now typically candidates can expect to sit a seven-day course, before taking the OCR-specified exams, which are at the equivalent learning point as a ‘A’ Level.
Other means of gaining the qualification are available, and the institute is one of the few bodies that offers its own qualification route.
The snag is that after qualification, there can be a temptation for TMs not to keep up to date.
The result is that TCs are increasingly hearing cases – either at preliminary hearings (PH) or full public inquiries (PI) – where the TM’s knowledge has not been updated. This has brought the operator before the TC.
There are still a number of TMs with ‘acquired’ (grandfather) rights, who gained an exemption to the CPC exam when it was introduced, due to their existing experience, along with a sizeable other number who took the early ‘simple’ exams, which were little more than a few questions on four pages.
One of the TCs’ roles is to ensure a ‘level playing field’ for operators. Not having a compliant operation, or staff that allow this to happen, can provide a distinct cost saving, compared with compliant operators.
The other key role of the TC is to ensure that operators can be trusted to run safely. Non-compliance is often unsafe too.
Steps so far
Currently when a TC identifies that a TM is not up-to-date – normally at a PH or PI - it will require the TM to undergo refresher training. In the worst cases, their ability to act as a TM will be withdrawn until they have sat and passed fresh exams.
The TCs realise that this reactive approach still leaves room for improvement and relies on non-compliant operators being identified (discovered) by the DVSA.
Therefore, the TCs are considering the possibility of the introduction of CPD as a mandatory requirement, as it is with many other safety-critical professions.
What CPD does
There are many ways that a TM can stay up-to-date - and the institute is is in a unique position to bring all of this together under one roof.
CPD encompasses everything from legal changes (new or revised legislation),to hot topics (such as aged tyres) and best practice.
A good, on-the-ball TM is able to ensure that the transport business they are engaged by is not only safe and compliant, but also runs in the most cost-effective way.
An excellent TM, will be much more than a ‘checker of systems’ or ‘compliance manger’, but also suggest improvements and how it can take advantage of new technology and other developments to improve the business’ performance.
The institute already offers its CPD ‘free’ to all members and has a programme for ‘all comers’- i.e. its entire membership.
This provides the institute, and its members, with a unique resource. Although it may seem like a niche for the institute, it does provide an opportunity to widen its membership and also increase the amount of CPD opportunities.
A good professional is always encouraged to keep up to date, and the institute already provides a key resource, so the proposal for compulsory CPD is to be welcomed.