The Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (‘DCPC’) allows an individual to drive an array of large vehicles within Europe and the United Kingdom. To gain a DCPC you must complete the following steps, which are then followed by an ongoing 35-hour period of training every 5 years. These 35 hours can be divided and undertaken as 7 hours each year, and then these 7 hours can be taken in 1 day or over 2 consecutive days. The training comprises:
- 2-Part Theory Test
- Case Studies
- Practical Driving Test
- Practical Demonstration of Vehicle Operation
Currently, proposals are being discussed which seek to implement changes to the DCPC for Great Britain. This proposal will create two types of DCPC for drivers, depending upon their driving requirements. There will be the International I-DCPC which will cover all professional drivers to drive within Europe and Great Britain, and a National N-DCPC which will cover professional drivers to only drive within Great Britain and potentially Northern Ireland.
The proposed changes cover a range of objectives to make it easier, faster, and more flexible for drivers, as well as being more cost-effective. These proposals aim to aid the recruitment and retention of drivers, thereby helping to alleviate the current driver shortages the country is facing. These proposals will look at the following key objectives:
- Make the qualification more flexible.
- Increase choice for renewing DCPC.
- Faster re-entry for returning drivers.
- Reduce cost and time of period training.
- Increase focus on the quality of knowledge obtained.
One of the key areas being considered is the 35 hours of training. This is one of the key issues felt by drivers as it could create a major yearly financial cost. The proposal looks to reduce the periodic 35 hours to an annual test which would either be a ‘1-2-1’ test or half hour training course. Figures shown within the government report published on 2 March 2023 (https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/driver-certificate-of-professional-competence-dcpc-changes) state that between October 2017 and September 2022 just under 150,000 drivers completed their DCPC period training. The cost of this current training ranges between £250 to £500 for the 35 hours. This proposal would reduce this cost to around £40 to £70 for each attempt, potentially saving drivers hundreds of pounds each year.
These changes could however create some complexities within the regime. These may include the possibility of potentially reducing the amount of training being offered along with the reduction in training providers. Other potential issues could be encountered in the courses themselves, with an increase of options available depending on the type of DCPC a driver holds.
Apart from the significant change to the period of training, other changes are being proposed which include:
- Short-term, time-limited extensions to existing drivers’ DCPC in exceptional circumstances.
- Short-term, time-limited exemptions from the need for a driver to hold a valid DCPC in exceptional circumstances – these would be for drivers whose DCPC had expired recently.
- A scheme for the recognition or exchange of non-UK qualifications for drivers within the UK.
- Options for evidencing the N-DCPC.
There has been a mixed reception to these changes from various organisations, such as the RHA and Logistics UK, as well as from drivers. Examples are as follows:
Richard Smith, RHA Managing Director, said: “We welcome the news that DfT is consulting on proposed DCPC reform to offer more choice and flexibility for drivers.
“This is a key priority for us as we continue to look for ways to tackle skills shortages in the transport sector. We look forward to reflecting our members’ views in the weeks ahead.”
Ted Jones, an ‘URTU’ Union member, has commented:
“With reference to page 9 of this month’s edition of Wheels. The driver CPC should be scrapped, as it only serves as a money-making exercise for so-called training companies, with little or no benefit to British professional drivers.
Overseas drivers should be made to have training if driving in other countries that have different rules and regulations than theirs, i.e., the UK, where we drive on the `wrong side` according to them.
When I was Driving in Germany, I was made to take a test to say that I understood German rules, signs, signals, `highway code` etc. In the UK however, we just assume an overseas driver is as competent and knowledgeable as a British driver. Which clearly, they are not.
The DCPC serves no purpose, as the driver, who has passed his `City and Guilds` Professional Qualification. I.e., In my case, a Class1 license has already proved he is Professional AND Competent.
Also, it is bad enough having to go through an ADR course every 5 years, but at least that serves a purpose, and keeps the driver up to date with rule changes, laws, etc. Whereas with the DCPC, how many times do I need to be shown how to do a manual entry, or told of unchanged driver hours, how to uncouple/couple up a trailer when we do countless times a week, etc, etc. These are jobs for a transport manager, who has a proper CPC. Which I obtained in 1986. Talk about how to teach your Granny to suck eggs. “
Chris Yarsley, Senior Policy Manager – Road Freight Regulation at Logistics UK, comments:
“Logistics is a highly regulated industry that places the safety of all road users at the heart of its operations and any changes to the Driver CPC regime must respect that premise. Today’s consultation is bad news for road safety and haulage operators, as well as drivers. “
The date for available responses regarding these proposals closed on 27th April 2023. When any further updates become available, we will update this article.
Regarding any implementation of any changes, it has been reported within the Government report “Presently there is no legal mechanism available to implement the changes proposed. Due to this, implementation timelines are yet to be confirmed. Therefore, at the time of launching changes will have no impact on the current DCPC periodic renewal cycles of drivers.” (https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/driver-certificate-of-professional-competence-dcpc-changes)