8th October 2021

Is truck Driver CPC training contributing to the driver shortage?

As the ongoing truck driver shortage continues to be a big talking point in haulage throughout 2021, we wanted to look at one of the underlying issues behind the deficit and discover to what extent compulsory Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC) impacts driver retention. 

Are drivers opting to leave the industry due to the mandatory CPC course and its cost? Why are drivers who have operated professionally in the past not able to drive a commercial vehicle legally now? 

What is Driver CPC?

When it was introduced in 2008, CPC training was part of a plan to improve road safety and maintain high standards of driving. To qualify, new HGV drivers must pass four Driver CPC module tests, and current drivers must complete 35 hours of periodic training every five years to revalidate their CPC. Driving professionally without an updated CPC can result in fines of up to £1,000. If you are unsure how many hours of training you have done in your current five-year period, you can check via the government website.

Introducing Driver CPC training hours for HGV drivers in 2009 meant that new drivers would have to gain their CPC licence before they were legally able to drive professionally. Existing drivers were exempt from the initial qualification due to their ‘acquired rights’ – because of their previous driving experience. But these drivers were required to complete their first block of periodic CPC training in 2014. Since 2014, even skilled truck drivers with over 25 years of commercial experience must pay for and complete their CPC training every five years to legally drive professionally.  

“A lot of people believe that this is a very complicated system, and it can even force people to take an early retirement, and it can also cause them to lose their jobs as well,” says Quicktemp, the Driving and industrial recruitment specialists. 

How much does CPC training cost?

Any new drivers will need to complete their Driver CPC initial qualification tests, and once they have passed the four CPC modules, they will receive a Driver Qualification Card (DQC) from the DVLA. A DQC card is valid for five years and allows you to drive commercially. Drivers can expect to pay around £390 for training costs, preparation lessons and test bookings. 

To renew your periodic CPC qualification, you can choose to complete five one-day courses for each of the five modules, lasting seven hours each and totalling 35 hours. These courses cost £40-90 depending on the company you book through. Or you can opt for an intensive week-long course to validate all your hours in one go. Drivers choosing the intensive course can expect to pay around £350. However, the intensive course means that drivers will be off the road for a week – reducing their ability to earn a living.

Some companies may pay for initial and periodic CPC training costs, but drivers are often responsible for covering these CPC payments themselves. When loss of earnings enters the equation, a driver on an average UK HGV salary could lose over £1,000 in total.

Do European drivers need a CPC qualification?

CPC training was introduced under a European Union Directive and is not a UK policy, meaning all professional EU lorry drivers must complete a CPC course every five years. Some UK drivers had hoped that the government would scrap Driver CPC following Brexit and the UK's removal from the EU. . However, Driver CPC will become part of UK legislation and continues to be a requirement for UK truck drivers. 

Is Driver CPC linked to the driver shortage?

Brexit and Covid have had a significant impact on the number of truck drivers on UK roads, and government officials and industry bodies are looking for ways to solve the crisis. The Road Haulage Association (RHA) has recognised that obtaining and paying for an HGV licence and Driver CPCs is a significant impediment for drivers joining and re-joining the industry. 

The RHA has proposed a 'Back to Driving' scheme to help the driver shortage. The plan seeks to entice former drivers back into the profession by removing impediments that may prevent them from driving professionally. The RHA has proposed providing financial assistance for Driver CPC training and extending CPC validity for one year. 

Why are there calls to scrap CPC training? 

There is an array of industry arguments for scrapping the Driver CPC. The shortage of drivers throughout the UK is already putting a strain on haulage fleets, and with 50,000 drivers off the road to complete their CPC hours every month, added supply chain disruption is inevitable. 

“It has brought misery and hardship to countless drivers in the United Kingdom and across the continent of Europe, and I have long campaigned against this unnecessary nonsense.” Said Jill Seymour at a debate about HGV training regulations at the European Parliament in Strasbourg in 2018. 

We asked our network of drivers on Facebook about the removal of Driver CPC training. 85% of respondents voted for the scrapping of training costs for new and current drivers and suggested that it may help to reduce the driver shortage. 

"My experience of the Driver CPC is that it is just a money-making scheme. Being able to do the same module five times over is defeating the object. Also, when experienced drivers are pointing out flaws and incorrect information given by trainers, then its credibility falls flat. Only new drivers will benefit from modules on tacho law, safe loading, safe coupling, etc," says Graham Wilson, who has been an HGV driver for 24 years. 

How can the Driver CPC scheme be improved?

Improving road safety and maintaining high driving standards were the reasons behind the creation of the Driver CPC, but the directive did not take the inconvenience and costs to drivers into account. While training is vitally important, the way it is currently implemented is creating more issues than it is solving.

Driver retention is a crucial aspect in resolving the driver shortage. Relaxing CPC rules and reviewing the time and expense required for completing the revalidation process will help to keep current drivers on the road and make the industry more accessible for new drivers in the future.

Find out more about the pros and cons of being a truck driver in 2021.

Josh Cousens | SNAP.

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