What is the point of the CPC qualification?

Posted on 29th April 2024 By Becky Hinshelwood

a man and woman, both wearing high-vis, stand in front of a line of blue HGVs consulting a tablet device.

Since 2009, for anyone embarking on HGV training, the term CPC will have been pretty central. The CPC, or driver Certificate of Professional Competence is now a core part of the training and qualification process for professional HGV drivers. However, it wasn’t always in place. This can mean that we can sometimes find ourselves asking what the point of the CPC qualification is. To understand the value that this part of the training process brings, we need to understand its history and purpose. We’ll look at what the CPC is, how it came into being, and how it can benefit drivers throughout their careers.

What exactly is the CPC qualification?

The CPC is an official qualification that all professional HGV drivers need to have. It’s part of the testing process to gain your initial licence, and is an ongoing requirement you need to continue driving professionally. The framework of the CPC basically makes up 2 of the 4 modules that form part of the driver testing process. While you must pass each part of the HGV driving test, it is modules 2 and 4 (detailed below) which form the initial CPC and give you your Driver Qualification Card, or DQC.

What is the DQC?

Your driver qualification card is the proof that you have completed the required initial, and then periodic training that it takes to maintain your CPC. All drivers should carry their DQC at all times when working. You may incur a £50 fixed penalty for driving professionally without your card. If a card gets lost or damaged, you must apply to replace it immediately which will cost £25. You can, however, carry on driving professionally while you wait for the replacement to arrive.

What is periodic CPC training? 

Periodic CPC training is an ongoing condition which you must maintain by undertaking 35 hours of periodic training every 5 years. This training can be in person or online, and covers updated topics, skills, and legislation for professional HGV drivers. 

Understanding the parts of the HGV driving test

As we’ve mentioned, CPC training and qualification is a legal requirement for all professional HGV drivers in the UK. Much like passing a standard car driving test, there are different aspects of driving which are tested. For the HGV licence, there are 5 parts that form your professional driving tests. These are the test categories that make up the HGV driving test. 

  • Part 1. Theory – The initial step, these tests are focussed on hazard perception and multiple choice decision making. You can begin studying for this stage before you receive your provisional licence. Your pass certificate is valid for 2 years. 
  • Part 2. Case studies – An additional theoretical component, you must have passed this stage before taking practical tests. Similarly to part 1, your pass certificate here is valid for 2 years, during which time you must pass all practical elements to the driving test. 
  • Part 3a. Off road exercises – This part tests your ability to manoeuvre the vehicle. It consists of around 30 minutes of driving and you must have passed part 2 before you can take this test.
  • Part 3b. On road driving – You must have passed part 3a before taking this part of the module. It will involve answering some safety questions and around an hour of practical driving.
  • Part 4. Practical demonstration – This is the most comprehensive test and covers 5 areas of the CPC syllabus. You’ll need to demonstrate your understanding of driving, safety, and the requirements of professional HGV driving. 

How did the CPC come into being?

The establishment of the CPC stemmed from the European Union’s commitment to enhance road safety and ensure professional standards across the continent. The qualification focuses on both theoretical knowledge and practical skills which are essential for the safety, efficiency, and compliance of professional road transport activities. Although the UK is no longer part of the EU, the CPC has remained a requirement within the British HGV licence testing process. Since a DQC is required across Europe, it makes sense to maintain the consistency of this professional standard.

What are the benefits to the Driver CPC?

There are many practical benefits to the continuation of the Driver CPC as a requirement for professional HGV drivers. These cover factors such as safety, confidence, ongoing development and consistency of knowledge. 

Safety Standards

Safety is paramount in the logistics and haulage sectors. Periodic CPC training emphasises this by equipping drivers with the ability to handle on-road situations safely and confidently.

Personal Development 

CPC training can have a positive impact on the personal development of HGV drivers. With enhanced problem-solving skills, better decision-making capabilities, and the confidence to handle difficult or stressful situations, you can develop your career and expertise.

Technological Advancements 

With technology constantly changing the game for the transport industry, it’s important to keep abreast of developments. Periodic CPC training helps to demystify these technologies, ensuring that drivers are comfortable and capable of using them effectively.

Environmental Edge

Safety is paramount in the logistics and haulage sectors. A commitment to safer driving practices is the hallmark of professional competency. Periodic CPC training supports this by equipping drivers with the ability to handle any situation safely and confidently.

How can a training service help with my CPC?

From initial qualification to ongoing training, the CPC is more than a ‘tick box’ exercise. When you work with an HGV training provider, the management of your CPC is smoother and more comprehensive. At Surrey and Hampshire Training, for example, we support our drivers throughout their training and beyond. 

Strong Foundation

With the quality of learning that we provide across our network of training centres, our professional HGV drivers have a foundation of competence and confidence. With this foundation, understanding the topics across the periodic CPC training is much more straightforward.

Industry Updates 

Established training providers are fully integrated within the transport and logistics industry. This means that updates to the curriculum are prompt, ensuring that drivers receive the most current and relevant training.

Support and Guidance

CPC can be a daunting prospect for many drivers, especially those returning to formal education after some time. A good training provider should offer support in a variety of ways, including additional resources and advice. Find out about our CPC provision here.

The CPC is more than a legislative framework, it’s there to make everyone safer and more knowledgeable. Make the most of your initial and periodic CPC training, and you’ll reap the benefits in your career. Contact us today to book your CPC training.

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