Tue, October 17, 2023
Is Driver CPC To Be Scrapped? 
The controversial Driver CPC qualification, introduced for buses and coaches in 2008 and for trucks in 2009, has faced enduring calls for its scrapping. Surprisingly, the most significant resistance to this training requirement comes from the very individuals it's meant to benefit—HGV drivers. In this article, we delve into the somewhat turbulent history of Driver CPC and explore the reasons behind the relentless demands for its elimination. However, it's important to note that despite the calls for its scrapping, Driver CPC (Certificate of Professional Competence) is not going to be scrapped it is here to stay.
Understanding Driver CPC
Driver CPC was introduced with the primary goal of enhancing road safety and elevating the level of professional competency among drivers. In the past, the only mandatory qualification for most HGV drivers was the entitlement on their driving license. However, as with many other industries, Continuous Professional Development (CPC) is essential to stay up-to-date with the ever-changing legislation and industry standards.
Driver CPC embodies the idea of ongoing training throughout a driver's HGV career, creating an ideal scenario for professional development. It's a system designed to ensure that drivers remain well-informed about the latest regulations, best practices, and safety measures, thus contributing to safer roads and a more professional industry as a whole.
Are They Stopping CPC?
Despite calls from some quarters to scrap the Driver CPC qualification, it appears that the resounding message from both the government and the industry is clear Driver CPC is here to stay. Even though it originated as a European Directive, with the UK having left the EU, the government remains steadfast in its commitment to this qualification. The reason is simple - anything that promotes road safety and generates revenue for the government is unlikely to be discarded. It's a measure that continues to shape the standards of the industry and contributes to safer roads while supporting public finances.
Factors and arguments for and against scrapping the CPC
While the concept of ongoing training throughout one's career is undoubtedly beneficial, Driver CPC hasn't received the level of appreciation it might have deserved. Consequently, there is a considerable amount of skepticism from both the industry and drivers who contend that it falls significantly short of the expected standard. It's important to note that there was a fair amount of resistance even before Driver CPC was introduced, and in the last 15 years, many believe that things have remained relatively unchanged.
Interestingly, a substantial portion of this resentment for Driver CPC stems from the very industry it was originally designed to support. This raises questions about its effectiveness and whether it truly aligns with the needs and expectations of HGV drivers and the broader transport sector.
The role of government and regulatory agencies
The DVSA, as the government agency responsible for Driver CPC, has a wide-ranging mandate. Their responsibilities encompass the approval of training centers and courses, the maintenance of the Recording and Evidence (R&E) system, and the oversight of quality assurance. An interesting aspect to note is that for every hour a driver spends participating in Driver CPC training, a fee of £1.25 per hour is levied, totaling £43.75 over the required 35 hours every five years. This fee not only covers the cost of the Driver CPC card but also contributes to the maintenance of the entire scheme.
Approved training centers are also under obligation to pay the DVSA for center approval and course approval. Collectively, these fees constitute a significant source of revenue for the government through the Driver CPC program. This financial aspect plays a crucial role in the management and administration of Driver CPC, which includes the approval and oversight of training centers and courses.
Is the Driver CPC Going to Change?
Given that Driver CPC is here to stay, various consultations have been undertaken to gather input from the industry and stakeholders on how to enhance the program. Some constructive ideas have emerged, such as discontinuing the possibility of taking the same 7-hour course five times consecutively. This change aimed to address the illogical practice of allowing individuals to complete the same course daily over five days.
Another significant improvement has been the introduction of online Driver CPC training. Prior to COVID-19, training was primarily classroom-based, but during and after the pandemic, rules were adjusted to permit drivers to complete their training either online at home or in a classroom setting. This shift to online training not only offers greater convenience but also reduces the overall cost of Driver CPC training due to lower overhead expenses.
The most recent consultation has led to other notable changes, including a mandatory selection of courses that drivers must complete rather than allowing them to choose freely. This addresses the challenge of raising funds for Driver CPC training, especially during times of economic strain. To facilitate drivers, the DVSA is willing to grant a Driver CPC in advance, allowing drivers to complete the training over a five-year period. Additionally, separate Driver CPC cards (DQC's) are planned to reflect the UK's departure from the European Union. Drivers residing in the UK but driving HGVs on the continent may have a different syllabus and card compared to those operating solely in the UK.
Furthermore, the consultation has proposed relaxing the "7 hours minimum course duration" and allowing courses to be broken into 2 or 3.5-hour sessions over several days. This change enhances flexibility in drivers' schedules. A notable shift is the proposal for employers to cover the cost of Driver CPC training, alleviating the financial burden on drivers. Previously, obtaining a DQC was the sole responsibility of the HGV driver. This change offers financial relief to drivers, making the program more accessible.
Recent and upcoming developments in CPC regulations and requirements
Driver CPC, since its inception in 2009 for trucks, has remained largely unchanged in principle. However, as we've discussed, there have been continuous tweaks and improvements to the program over the years. Driver CPC was an entirely new concept when it was introduced in 2009, and it took time for everyone to adapt and maximize the benefits of the training and qualification.
The most recent changes, following the 2022 consultation, are already in effect. Perhaps the most notable change is the requirement to undertake different courses instead of taking the same course five times consecutively. These changes reflect the ongoing efforts to refine and enhance the Driver CPC program to better serve the industry and its professionals.
Impact on professional drivers and the industry
One of the objectives of Driver CPC was to professionalize the trucking industry and, in turn, make the job of driving a truck more appealing to younger individuals. Unfortunately, the profession of truck driving has often been viewed as a last-resort occupation. It is clear that more needs to be done to transform Driver CPC into something of real value and integrity, aiming to convince drivers of the benefits of undergoing continuous, high-quality training.
To attract and retain young talent in the industry, it's vital to highlight the significance of ongoing training, the potential for career advancement, and the long-term benefits that come with being a certified, highly skilled HGV driver. By doing so, Driver CPC can not only achieve its original goal of professionalizing the sector but also make it a career path that's more appealing and respected by a broader audience.
Will CPC Be Scrapped After Brexit?
The assumption that Driver CPC would be scrapped after the UK voted to leave the European Union in 2016 was a common one. However, this assumption has proven to be inaccurate, and the UK government's commitment to maintaining the Driver CPC qualification remains steadfast. One notable advantage for the DVSA (Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency) is that they now have the autonomy to change and adjust the regulations as they deem necessary. There is no longer a requirement to seek agreement with 26 other countries in Brussels should the UK wish to make changes to Driver CPC training. This shift in regulatory control provides greater flexibility in tailoring the program to meet the specific needs and challenges of the UK transport industry.
The status of the CPC in the post-Brexit era
Driver CPC is indeed a legal requirement, and not possessing a Driver Qualification Card (DQC) when operating a commercial goods vehicle is considered an offense that carries penalties. These penalties apply not only to the driver but also to the operator. It's important to note that this legal framework was in place both before and after the UK's exit from the European Union. The commitment to maintaining the integrity of Driver CPC and ensuring road safety has remained consistent, regardless of changes in the broader political landscape.
Is UK CPC Valid in Europe?
The notion of having separate Driver CPC qualifications or cards for UK drivers who operate trucks on the continent and those who exclusively drive within the UK has been considered. However, many industry bodies, associations, operators, and training companies have raised concerns about the practicality of such a change. They argue that this alteration would be overly complex, costly, and ultimately unnecessary.
Currently, a Driver CPC card issued in the UK is valid in all EU member states. Similarly, Driver CPC cards issued by other EU member states are also recognized and valid within the UK. This mutual recognition simplifies the regulatory framework and ensures that drivers and operators can operate seamlessly across borders, contributing to the efficient functioning of the transport industry. The consensus among these stakeholders is that maintaining this system is preferable to implementing a more complex and costly alternative.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What are the main arguments in favor of scrapping the Driver CPC?
The primary arguments in favor of scrapping Driver CPC come from those whom CPC is supposed to benefit. Unfortunately, HGV drivers are not the biggest fans of Driver CPC training, with many questioning the quality of training and the knowledge of those delivering it.
Are there alternative programs or qualifications being considered to replace the CPC?
While Driver CPC is not going away, we advise you to undergo other relevant courses that will count as Driver CPC training. For example, attending an ADR course or HIAB training session with EP Training will earn you Driver CPC hours, allowing you to obtain two qualifications simultaneously.
What steps should professional drivers take if there are changes to the CPC program?
Professional drivers of lorries that require Driver CPC can stay up to date with changes by subscribing to the DVSA newsletter, reading trade journals, and, of course, following EP Training's superb blog.
What role does the government play in shaping the future of CPC regulations?
The government fundamentally decides how Driver CPC should be delivered. To be fair to the DVSA, they have consistently sought stakeholder consultation when proposing improvements to Driver CPC.
How can UK drivers ensure their CPC remains valid in European countries post-Brexit?
Currently, to ensure that the UK Driver CPC remains valid in European countries, the British government has agreements in place with former EU member states that acknowledge and accept reciprocal Driver CPC qualification cards, maintaining the recognition of these qualifications across borders.
Whether you love it or hate it, Driver CPC is not going to be scrapped anytime soon. Our recommendation is to make the most out of that mandatory 35 hours of training every 5 years and invest in good quality training. Despite the negativity surrounding Driver CPC, there is valuable training available, and there's nothing more rewarding than attending a decent course.
With the 2024 deadline fast approaching, we urge you not to leave your Driver CPC renewal to the last minute, as prices may increase. We hope this post proves to be useful in helping you navigate the world of Driver CPC and make the most of your training.