Ever since the introduction of Driver CPC training over 10 years ago, many people have asked why the training could not be delivered online. But until the onset of the Covid-19 crisis, this option has not been permitted.
The Government announced an automatic extension of expiring Driver Qualification Cards (DQC) in March, to help drivers who might not be able to complete their CPC training. As an additional measure, the rules were changed and temporary permission was given for Driver CPC providers to deliver their training via web conference.
Driver Hire Training was one of the very first companies to offer Driver CPC online and the trainer who carried out their first session was Pete Stevens. We caught up with Peter to find out more about his own experiences as a CPC Trainer and ask him about the future of online CPC.
Tell us a bit about your career, Pete. Where did you start out and how did you get into training?
I started off in the transport industry when I got my first job as a van driver in 1993 and by the end of ‘94, I was driving an HGV. I took a bit of a break when I came out to work as a recruitment consultant, but soon realised I was missing driving! I came back as a driving instructor and ran my own driving school. It was doing that when I met another trainer, Paul Jeffs, who advised me about training qualified HGV drivers. That was 20 years ago now and I haven’t looked back.
I’ve since worked all over the world; India, Russia and South Africa for example, delivering defensive, advanced and off-road driver training. I’ve worked with most of the major oil companies throughout the world, and within pharmaceuticals.
As well as training people to drive cars and HGVs, teaching people to drive pinzgauers in the RAF was exciting. It’s a vehicle that can wade through water up to 13ft. I have driver compliance and transport management experience, and also trained professional trainers within the armed forces. I moved on to delivering Driver CPC in 2009.
What brought you to logistics in the first place?
Like many people in logistics, I just fell into it through friends and family. Then found the love for driving. I just love anything to do with transport and driving. Yes, I have done other things and they have kept me in work, but I’m always pulled back into transport.
You’ve lived a colourful life and have a lot of experience! What aspects of your career have you enjoyed the most?
The training side is what I love the most. I have been to many places I wouldn’t have dreamt of, and worked for so many different organisations. That’s what training has enabled me to do. If you take the fancy countries and companies away, it’s about the individuals you’re training.
You were the first Driver Hire Training CPC Trainer to carry out an online session in March. What did you think?
It was all a bit new at first, of course, but I had a fantastic group who gave me great feedback. It was a great start!
It’s certainly helped me that we have a Service Delivery Team; they reduce any stress for me in the background. Diane (who leads the team) gets everyone online if they need help. They’re there, on time, it’s smooth, stress free and helps us run as a very efficient team.
Drivers who come onto my courses want to learn and they’re all enjoying the medium that we’re using, are getting involved and it’s been really interactive.
It is the quickest 7 hours I have ever trained! It goes so quickly because every single person contributes how they want to, from the comfort of their own home. It’s more fun.
How can people join in online?
Everyone can engage with a medium that they’re most comfortable with. For example, drivers who book onto a course have my email and many of them connect with me on WhatsApp before the training has even started so they can message me before, during or after training with any questions. Whilst training is in motion, you can speak up and ask questions, or even submit questions via the chat if you’re not comfortable with the mic.
How do you keep online CPC training exciting and engaging?
When it comes to content, it’s important to share your own expertise, experience and stories. That’s what makes every day different for me, and more exciting for the delegates.
People are certainly more comfortable joining in when in the comfort of their own home. I’ve had people come into the virtual classroom who work in motorsport, passenger carrying vehicles, general haulage; from Scotland, the South West, Wales, Northern Ireland… You would have never get that in a classroom, people from four corners of the UK in one place. It’s great when you’re delivering modules like City Driving or Vulnerable Road Users for example, because you get a range of experiences and perspectives from people who drive in different settings.
I get good things sent through to me, too. Recently, one lady who has been driving for 28 years attended a course and sent me a joke through about an artic afterwards. I thought it was brilliant and I asked her if I could share it on the next training session. All the other drivers had a good laugh, too. I think if you’ve got something like that that brings it all to life, makes it all real and sits with the subject, it’s great.
You don’t get that in a classroom. It was an eye opener for me.
What other benefits do you think online CPC has brought about?
There are practical benefits such as not having to travel to a classroom to complete training. Professional drivers spend many hours on the road, driving 80,000 – 160,000 miles per year. That’s a lot compared to me who drives about 45,000 normally. They have a heightened risk of being involved in an accident so if we can reduce the time on the road it takes for a whole classroom of drivers to get to and from a classroom, that’s got to be a good thing.
Also, the evidence between the exposure to air pollution and health is compelling, so to reduce the number of unnecessary vehicles on the road by carrying out online training and doing more meetings online, to me seems like a no-brainer.
We’re still at the very beginning of a journey with it, but hopefully the DVSA and JAUPT will see the benefits.
What do you think is the biggest misconception about Driver CPC?
Well, driving isn’t just about picking up they keys and getting into a truck. There’s a lot of work to be done and you need to be on the ball when you’re working in one of the most heavily legislated jobs in the UK. The risk of not getting it right is going to prison. But it’s also not difficult to get it right!
It is about putting the jigsaw together and putting the time in to think through what you’re actually doing. Regular learning and brushing up on your skills with CPC rids you of a lot of stress from that.
How do you keep advancing in your own role, and keep up to speed with industry changes?
I keep my own CPC up to date – I have to do it to keep my own skills up to scratch but I know that’s right, I should do it because I should expect to be challenged over it.
As an Approved Driver Instructor (ADI) and an ORDIT trainer (‘Train the Trainer’), I have to undergo checks and licences to do my job every two and a half years. Every year, I get a new FTA file that enables be to do the Transport Management side of it. I’m also due to sit my exam soon that will enable me to deliver Transport Manager CPC and OLAT (Operator’s Licence Awareness Training).
I’m also in the process of working through a Diploma in Collision Investigation, I’ve always wanted to do it so now I’m working towards the qualification. It all keeps my mind going all of the time!
We’ve seen a strong demand for online Driver CPC training. Why do you think that is?
We have seen people looking to get back into professional driving and those who want to get ahead during a quiet period of work. During the financial crisis in 2008, I was able to work through an agency myself. I did a month’s work driving a truck and it kept my head above water.
What your favourite module you like to deliver?
I love delivering Drivers’ Hours training. It gives you the opportunity to take something that seems complicated on the surface and put it in a way that works for people on a daily basis. The idea is complicated and theory is meaningless – until you learn how to apply it to your daily life.
We’re in the middle of lockdown at the moment, so when you’re not carrying our online Driver CPC training, what do you like to get up to outside of work?
Right now I’m trying to get a lawn to grow in the garden! My main interests are Formula 1 so I am bit upset that there’s no season at the moment. I am really enjoying Stranger Things, it’s set in the 80s and it’s like a cross-over of ET and Poltergeist!
Since launching online CPC, Driver Hire Training has now trained well over 1,000 individual drivers and delivered more than 20,000 driver training hours in a virtual classroom. To find out more, visit www.driverhiretraining.co.uk/why-driver-hire