When a new piece of legislation that affects the way a process works comes into effect, it invariably means that there is a change in the supply chain. In the case of DCPC training it has led to what will hopefully be a short-term shortage of trained drivers.
This shortage is down to a combination of factors. A large proportion of potential DCPC drivers are close to retirement; there are those who have decided to retire early, and those that do not want to do the formal training. For some it’s the financial implications of training that is the problem, where employers have refused to pay and expect drivers to self-fund. Additionally, some drivers have decided to leave the industry altogether. Add to this those who simply did not feel the training was for them and the usual natural wastage and you have a job market that is suffering from a drought of workers.
Unfortunately there is also an issue in that, sadly, some companies are still not totally aware of the legislation. Believe it or not, we still come across employers who have no idea their staff need this mandatory training.
For the employer then, these factors mean that you may need to work a little harder to get the drivers you need, and you may wish to consider the following:
- A good starting point is to make sure your temporary drivers are paid a fair, and even generous, salary that reflects their skills.
- Set aside money for this mandatory training in your budget and put your drivers through training on an annual basis. Leaving training to the eleventh hour puts you at risk of losing staff to someone else who will train them.
- Maintain a strong relationship with your partner agency rather than ‘agency hopping’ as some clients do. This way the agency is able to build a pool of drivers who are fully skilled and available for a handful of different clients. This will provide you with a flexible work force and create a strong agency supply line.
- Government funded opportunities such as the Young Drivers Apprentice scheme is another way employers can help to overcome the shortage. These schemes help bring new blood into the industry as well as share the responsibility to combat the drivers shortage.
Using temporary workers, assuming there are any in the current shortage situation, would of course traditionally ease the lack of skilled drivers. However, there is a misconception that temporary workers do not provide the best solution to a lack of skilled labour, and even that they are less efficient than permanent staff. We are here to tell you that this is not always the case. In fact they can be just the opposite. Our temporary drivers are skilled and able to think on their feet. They need to be because, unlike a permanent staff member, they rarely get an induction process or a full briefing on their route or delivery methods. This means that they must be able to adapt to new situations and be able to quickly adopt new systems of paperwork, electronic scanning and recording, as well as safe loading procedures.
Add to this that they can be called upon to drive multiple rigs from refrigerated supermarket deliveries to tankers in unfamiliar cabs at the drop of a hat and you begin to see why our fully-trained agency drivers are a valuable commodity.
As a specialist agency we have already invested two years into DCPC training by employing our own internal trainer who actively monitors the qualified percentage of our database in readiness for our clients.
We also need to remember that, despite the common myth, these drivers are not temporary because they cannot get a full time job. There are plenty of opportunities around for them at the moment. For most of them the choice to work with a temporary contract is a life choice. It may be that they want to work hours that allow them to care for the needs of a partner or loved one. It may well be that they are choosing semi-retirement, or that driving helps supplement another project or their own business. Whatever the reason, our experience of this part of the workforce is that they are dedicated professionals who can pretty much pick and choose where they work – so if you want them you’ll need to incentivise them and treat them with the respect they deserve.