DVLA red tape puts brake on bus drivers’ chances

Oxford Bus Company was unable to employ two asylum-seekers because of the
red tape specified by the DVLA to grant driving licences.

The asylum-seekers, who were eligible to work, completed the selection
process to become bus drivers, but were refused the provisional PCV licence
that would have enabled the company to train them.

Louisa Weeks, personnel manager of Oxford Bus Company, said, "These
drivers would have been perfectly suitable for the job. We invested a lot of
time in these asylum-seekers through the interview process and driver
assessment. It was a time-consuming process."

The DVLA turned down the asylum-seekers’ applications for PCV licences
because they could not provide a passport or birth certificate. The
asylum-seekers – one from Albania, the other from Africa – only had documents
provided by the Immigration Department, which state that the holder is the
person they claim to be.

The Oxford Bus Company is facing a severe shortage of drivers, as
Oxfordshire has only 1 per cent unemployment – one of the lowest rates in the

Weeks said, "We will need 20 bus drivers to get through the summer
season. This is a classic example of the red tape that is stopping people who
are keen to contribute in an area of staff shortages from getting a job."

The DVLA told Personnel Today that an applicant needs a passport, birth
certificate or Home Office travel document to get a PCV licence, but welcomed
the applicants to write and state their case.

Weeks has advised the asylum-seekers to question the DVLA’s decision.

By Karen Higginbottom

Feedback from the profession

Personnel Today asked: Would being able to readily employ asylum-seekers be
a benefit to your organisation?

Des Pullen, HR director, Allied Bakeries

"We have some sites in the country that have particular recruitment
issues. We have a number of asylum-seekers who have come seeking work and we’ve
had to turn them down. It’s frustrating. We’d like them to work for us."

Okosi, HR director, London Borough of Brent

"Asylum-seekers have a genuine right to work, and come to this country
with all sorts of experience. It’s far better that they are in meaningful
employment than relying on the state. If they’ve got the skills, we should
employ them. Central government should use the information that it has on
asylum-seekers and refugees to build up a skills database. If we had a database
on their skills, it would be very foolish to ignore them."

Deer, director of personnel, Cambridge University

"It could be a benefit to the IT, finance and professional skills side
of the university. They can be used to help meet the skills shortage, but this
would need to be done in an orderly fashion, and each claim should be
thoroughly checked."

Burton, HR executive manager for Norton Practice

"Unless asylum-seekers have the qualifications, employing them wouldn’t
make any difference to us. Obviously there are some language issues, but if the
skill was there, that would be great. Whether the business would take on the
additional training of someone who couldn’t speak English very well would be

Baker, sustainable development controller, B&Q

"I think that as a business you should take every opportunity to
recruit people who are right for the business as long as they have the legal
right to work in the UK."

Sally Storey, president, health HR group AHHRM

"It is my understanding that there is a large pool of qualified doctors
and nurses among asylum-seekers – in my opinion it is a wasted pool of

Ravey, HR director, Whitbread Hotels

"The bigger the pool of talent, the more benefit it would be to

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