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DfT Proposes Reforms to Driver CPC

The DfT is proposing reforms to the Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (DCPC) which are currently out for consultation until 27 April.

These proposals don’t change the way that you initially obtain your DCPC neither do they affect drivers who travel and work abroad, especially in the EU as that is a far more complicated process to adjust. What it does do, in effect, is introduce a new category of DCPC for those drivers who will only work in Great Britain (and possibly Northern Ireland); a National DCPC or N-DCPC as it is being designated. Its aim is to make the process of completing 35 hours of periodic training much simpler with the aim of assisting operators to retain or regain driving staff who have recently left the coach industry.

At the core of the proposals is the ‘periodic test’; an option for drivers to sit a test, consisting of a series of multiple choice and situational judgement questions. At a cost of between £40 and £70; it will take significantly less time and cost than the training route, and for those drivers who take pride at keeping themselves up to date with all that it takes to driver a coach, it appears to be a good option. The balance needs to be stuck between the ease of the test and being able to tease out of the individual sitting it that their knowledge is still fresh.

It also means that for a coach driver who has gone off to explore other career opportunities that don’t work out, they can come back to coach driving relatively quickly. It may be necessary to do some training in core issues to prepare for the test, but they could be up, ready and driving within a relatively short space of time, reducing vacancy levels (and your stress).

However, tests are not for everyone and even highly competent individuals can just ‘freeze’ in a test or exam environment.

Therefore, the proposals to relax the individual course duration of 7 hours (or 3½ hours over two days) also seems a sensible move. This could allow courses for drivers, two or three times a year, to be held in between school runs. One of the UKCOA members is especially keen on the concept of continuous learning rather than being crammed into a few days, and most operators would probably agree with this concept.

The idea too to formally recognise that at times of ‘Exceptional Circumstances’ (National Emergencies, Pandemics and the like) that a ‘short-term extension’ is available seems a sensible move too.

There may be many who would like the proposals to go further. However, in what might be achievable in the short term, this seems a good start and hopefully will contribute to being able to retain (or regain) drivers who might otherwise be lost to the coach industry.

The UKCOA will be talking to members and submitting a formal response to the consultation.

If you would like to read more about the proposals or submit your own response you can do that at gov.uk