Saturday, November 12, 2011

Road Haulage Firms Warned - Train Your Freight Drivers Or Else!

Time and EU Regulations Wait for No Man
Shipping News Feature

UK – Research we have undertaken has shown that many road haulage operators are still holding back when it comes to the mandatory training which must be undertaken by all commercial HGV drivers. Many freight and logistics companies, particularly SME’s, realise that by September 2014 all of their drivers need to have completed the necessary 35 hours training to comply with the Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (DCPC) requirements. Despite this however many companies are waiting until what they believe is the last possible moment before acting.

A recent survey by the Freight Transport Association (FTA) found that almost half of their members surveyed claim that meeting their EU driver training requirements was a ‘major concern’, second only to rising fuel costs. Both English and Irish drivers were advised to study their options in our August article on the subject. It is envisaged that, should this reluctance continue, there may well be a shortage of training opportunities by the time the deadline is reached.

The principal reason for delaying in the cases we looked at is the reluctance to invest in staff at a time when workloads are fluctuating and drivers may well be laid of or choose to leave after the training has been completed. As the DCPC is transferrable those drivers who hold the full qualification will find it much easier to move on to pastures new if and when the opportunity arises.

Larger companies seem to account for most of the training take up so far whilst smaller operators are less able and less inclined to pay for training and to release staff at a time when they are already under financial pressure with no guarantee of a return if the driver leaves within three of four years.

Current estimates vary but the FTA are quoting a figure of only 54% of eligible drivers being fully trained by the deadline whilst training agency 24/7 Training mention 64% should current trends continue, this despite a stronger uptake this year. Each driver must complete 35 hours of training and according to 24/7 Training MD Stuart Moss the new regulations will impact on almost 800,000 professional drivers around half of those being freight drivers, and that over 5 ½ million training hours will be required annually for LGV drivers alone.

Simple mathematics shows that the later firms leave their decisions to train their staff the less likely they are to find suitable opportunities, says Stuart Moss:

"September 2014 may seem a long way off but Britain’s freight drivers are in for a big shock unless they start their training soon. The transportation sector could face a crisis, as latecomers will create a surge in demand that can’t possibly be met. There is already a shortage of trainers and there is a real danger that standards will suffer and that we’ll see higher training course costs to access quality training."

Isobel Harding, FTA’s National Training Manager holds similar views saying:

“Tough trading conditions, high fuel costs and traditionally slim profit margins mean that budgets are stretched across the industry; it is therefore understandable that uptake has been sluggish. While awareness of these training obligations is high, there is a manifest reluctance from industry to invest in training drivers when there is a good chance that by the time the deadline comes around those same drivers might be working elsewhere.But this approach could leave many companies twisting in the wind as the deadline approaches and demand for good value and meaningful training outstrips supply.”

The message then is simple, if you are required to have a fully trained staff by September 2014 think about booking the training now even if you plan to delay as long as possible. No small company can afford to lose drivers for a whole working week the system of spreading the days over quieter periods would seem a more sensible option – provided you have enough time. Full details of what you need to do can be seen HERE.