‘We’ll train our own HGV drivers’ say waste managers

25 August 2010 by Daryl Tunningley

CSG sets up in-house ‘driving school’ as new European standard is introduced.

A leading waste management company is setting up its own in-house ‘driving school’.

Fareham-based Cleansing Service Group (CSG), the UK’s second largest independent waste manager, says its scheme means it can provide “tailored driving” instruction leading to the new Driver Certificate in Professional Competence (CPC) which is now an obligatory qualification for all HGV licence holders.

Under recent European legislation, designed to improve road safety and help maintain high standards of driving, professional drivers must hold a CPC in addition to a vocational driving licence.

New lorry drivers are awarded a CPC after passing a series of initial practical and theory qualification tests which must then be followed by 35 hours of training every five years.

Drivers who gained their HGV licence before September 10 last year are deemed to have ‘acquired rights’ and do not need to take the initial qualification. But they will have to complete further periodic training within five years to keep their CPC.

CSG has estimated that outsourcing its driver training to meet the new European standards would cost around £50,000 per annum but still not provide it with a driver pool skilled in the specialist skills required by waste hauliers.

“We warmly welcome the introduction of the CPC which should help reduce road casualties and give the professional driving industry a more positive image which should attract more people into it,” said CSG human resources manager Steve Hicks.

“The new qualification means our drivers will need to undertake a lot more training in the future, but the kind of operations they carry out require certain specialist skills which are not necessarily part of what they learn at external driver training schools.

“We already have these skills in-house in abundance, so we decided to set up our own training facilities using four of our own highly experienced and qualified drivers as instructors who will provide tailored training to all of our 150 HGV drivers.”

The four instructors, all CPC holders, currently train colleagues on an ad hoc basis as well as performing their usual driving duties. From February they will conduct six workshops each throughout the year at three CSG depots – Fareham, Chailey in East Sussex and Coventry. The courses will be designed to meet the CPC syllabus.

Mr Hicks said: “We have to compete with many other organisations to attract qualified HGV drivers from a comparatively small pool and often we have to retrain recruits because they’ve picked up bad driving habits or don’t have the specialist skills we require.

“Many of the drivers are late career, fed up with split shifts and being away from home and approaching retirement age which could present us with recruitment problems later. We feel we need to be able to redress this balance and ensure our future needs are met by training our own drivers.

“We’ve got the resources and skills in-house to ensure we have a fully trained driver force in the future, tailored to meet our specific operational needs. The scheme will also significantly reduce the £50,000 per annum cost of sending drivers for training on external courses.”

CSG, which operates the largest fleet of specifically designed waste transportation road tankers in the UK, is also considering offering its driver training facilities to other waste operators.

The company plans to invest £12 million over the next five years in a complete 175-vehicle replacement programme ranging from CCTV – equipped vans to 7,000 gallon articulated tankers.