Commercial vehicle driver’s Skills Passport scheme failures serve as warning to other skills passport schemes

The dangers of the rush towards skills passport schemes have been highlighted by the former project manager of the failing Driver’s Skills Passport initiative.

Launched in 2003 by the then transport minister Alistair Darling, as part of the Freight Transport Association’s (FTA) skills campaign, the passport has “withered on the vine”, according to the FTA.

It was supposed to be a personal record of achievement for commercial vehicle drivers, and it enables individuals to keep a record of their occupational qualifications, modern apprenticeships and driver training.

Several thousand passports were initially printed – most of which are still at the FTA’s offices, unused. “We’ve got thousands of them,” said a spokesman, who added that they were now being handed out at driver training events.

Sally Thornley, head of compliance information services at the FTA, and previously project manager of the scheme, admitted it never really took off. “It was never an initiative that we banked on, and is not compulsory. It is still used by a number of drivers who get good value from it,” she claimed.

Sector skills council Skill­smart Retail recently admitted to Personnel Today that its RetailPassport scheme had only attracted 2,000 users since its launch in September. It follows the launch of a number of similar schemes in sectors including passenger transport, and hospitality, leisure and travel.

Thornley cautioned against having too many different passport schemes. She said gaining buy-in was important to the success of any scheme. “It is important to try to engage as many interested parties as possible – sector skills councils, trade organisations and trade unions,” she said.

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