July 20 2021

Driver recruitment has often been a challenge for operators. Our Operations Director Keith McNally outlines how CPT are working to tackle the main challenges of driver recruitment.

Driver recruitment has been a challenge for many of our members, and I know from first-hand experience how difficult it can be to find good candidates, navigate through the process of getting them trained and tested, and on top of that retain staff.

Below I have outlined challenges the industry is facing, and the work CPT is doing to try to make changes for our members that mean we can continue to meet our staffing needs.

Provisional licenses

Getting a provisional license for trainee drivers has been a barrier that coach and bus operators have faced to get new drivers qualified for the job. In normal times, applications are turned around within a couple of weeks but because of social distancing restrictions at DVLA’s offices in Wales and the impact of industrial action, the waiting time has extended to almost 6 weeks. CPT has been working with the DVLA to make the case for the coach & bus industry to get concessions so that drivers do not have to wait so long to begin their training. I understand the frustration felt when you offer a position to strong candidates, only to be waiting for a long time before they receive their provisional license and can begin their training.


Before drivers can begin taking people on trips and tours, there are 5 tests to pass. Again, due to Covid-19, DVSA is working through a backlog of people wanting to do their tests. This goes beyond the coach and bus industry, with HGV drivers waiting too.  At the CPT Compliance Workshop on 12 July we took the opportunity to flag this issue with DVSA Chief Executive Loveday Ryder, and highlighted that we need to find a solution so that we can get the industry up and running again. We have of course been talking to senior DVSA officers about this for several months but Loveday seemed to be engaged with what we are saying and it means our message was heard at the very top of the organisation.

Staff retention

From my own experience working within the coach & bus industry and recruiting drivers, I learnt a few lessons along the way about what helps to retain staff. The most important thing you can do is talk to your staff. Keeping lines of communication open creates much more clarity for everyone and a better work environment. Creating a roster around people’s needs proved successful in the past. Rather than having everyone take it in turns to work shifts, speak to your drivers about what suits them. It could be the case that some of them really like to do the early morning shift, or maybe they like  working evenings. It’s sometimes possible to reduce the number of split shifts, which often aren’t popular, by reorganising work patterns.  Everyone’s lifestyles are different and if you can help them arrange their work around this, it is often hugely appreciated.

The CPT team will continue to keep members updated with the latest developments from DVLA and DVSA. They are working through a backlog of applications, and we have pushed for them to ensure that the coach and bus industry again receives the service it deserves as soon as possible. In the meantime, please do keep an eye on your email inboxes, and have open conversations with your drivers.