I don't want to keep harping on about the pandemic, but it really has cocked things up. Can anyone get a dental appointment these days? Without taking out a mortgage to go private!
Putting aside my personal frustration for a minute, there's a serious issue looming and it threatens to heap huge pressure on transport businesses.
With a deadline of September 2023 a large number of bus and coach drivers will, over the next 9 months, need to complete their 35 hours of periodic training to maintain the Driver CPC qualification. Most have only done 1 or 2 courses since 2018, which means the majority will need to have 3 or 4 days off the road to complete it.
Current estimates suggest there are 220,000 - 240,000 bus and coach drivers in scope, but there's a question mark over whether there's enough training providers to deliver what's needed within the timescale. Those that are available are often booked up well in advance, so it get on a last-minute course can be tricky.
The situation is a little easier for the 270,000+ UK HGV drivers because they have until September 2024 to do it, but the fact remains that the training is often put on the backburner until it's too late.
The problem is that when several days of training needs to be completed in one go, drivers must take days off the road at a time when most businesses are desperate for their employees to get behind the wheel and maintain contracts or work commitments.
Providing online Driver CPC has eased the situation a little, but the requirement means only 2 hours out of every 7 can be eLearning, so drivers will still need to get back in the classroom.
According to DVSA figures only 2.4 million hours were logged in 2020-21 and 3.7 million in 2021-22. From the results of the first quarter of 2022, combined with forecasts for the end of this month, it looks like around 4 million hours will have been logged this year. To put that into context, in the previous five year period (2013/14 to 2018/19) just over 26 million hours were logged.
Assuming the same number of drivers need to complete the 35 hours, it means that in the next two years more than 16 million hours will need to be logged; that's more than double what's likely to be completed in 2022-23, and only twice in the last decade has the industry managed to complete 8 million + hours within a year; the last time (2019-20) represented around 1.3 million driver sessions.
What this all means is that a huge swathe of drivers risk being taken off the road in 2023/24, crippling the UK economy at a time when we're likely to be just coming out of a period of suppressed trading.
Companies really need to act now by spreading the remaining hours of training across 2023 to ensure their drivers remain compliant and to avoid massive disruption.