Why apprenticeships matter at DVLA

Richard Saunders is DVLA’s Talent and Learning Consultant. To celebrate National Apprenticeship week, Richard tells us more about the how, what and why of apprenticeships at DVLA.

Richard Saunders

A little background

What is a talent and learning consultant? I advise DVLA teams of opportunities that will develop the skills and nurture the talent that we need to reach our objectives. Part of this is helping to shape apprenticeship opportunities at DVLA.

I’ve been involved in apprenticeship programmes for many years and I was excited to bring this experience to my role when I started at DVLA just 3 months ago. There’s quite a lot of myth busting to do when talking about apprenticeships. Many still think that these are mainly for school leavers who want to earn while they learn – a trade for example. In reality, apprenticeships are great opportunities to develop new skills whilst already in a role. DVLA offers the perfect platform for this.

Different professions and roles

The career opportunities in DVLA are endless. There are so many different occupations,  professions and skill sets. These include roles in customer service, IT, finance, communications, commercial, drivers medical, policy and more.

Why do we have apprenticeships at DVLA? They support our staff with their personal development and meet the needs of our work, both now and in the future.

With so many roles and skills, it’s really important that my team and I understand the specific skills needed for each one and decide how to plug any gaps.  An apprenticeship helps to do just that. It requires commitment from the business area and the apprentice.

Contrary to popular belief, our apprentices include experienced professionals who are committed to their development. As a new starter, it’s been really interesting discussing apprenticeship opportunities with a range of teams and departments, and finding out what might be the best fit for them. At the same time trying to find my way around an organisation housing almost 6,000 staff!

What the future looks like

I’m currently working with some of our senior managers to improve apprenticeships even further by aligning them closer to all our professions. The idea is to make the overall experience more relevant and beneficial to all parties – both the apprentices themselves, and DVLA. We’ll roll it out, have a look how it works and refine it as we go along to make it the very best it can be.

It’s certainly an exciting time. We’re looking forward to launching these new opportunities and continuing our commitment to develop our staff. DVLA is already enjoying great success with apprenticeships so my challenge is to make sure we maintain and exceed this!

To find out more  

You can read more about what it’s like to work at DVLA. You can also take a look at our latest vacancies on Civil Service jobs.

Follow DVLA on TwitterFacebook and LinkedIn and subscribe to our Inside DVLA blog.

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Driving abroad after Brexit – things are changing

If you’re planning to drive abroad over the coming weeks and months, the driving documents you’ll need may change – here’s what you need to know.

Car driving on a country road

International Driving Permits

Before the UK leaves the EU on 29 March 2019, holders of UK licences can drive in all EU countries and the European Economic Area (EEA) without the need for any additional documentation.

If the UK leaves the EU on 29 March without a deal, UK licence holders may also need to obtain an International Driving Permit (IDP) to drive in EU/EEA countries.

There’s more than one type of IDP available and the type of IDP you may need in some countries will change on 28 March.

So, before you travel, make sure you check:

  • whether the country or countries you’ll be driving in require an IDP
  • which type of IDP you need – if you are travelling through two or more countries, you may need more than one IDP

You can obtain an IDP for £5.50 from 2,500 Post Offices across the UK.

Find out how to obtain an IDP by visiting the Post Office website.

Driving licences

If you’re a UK licence holder living in the UK, there’s no need to change your driving licence after 29 March.

UK residents in the EU

If you are resident in an EU country after the UK leaves the EU, you may not automatically have the right to exchange your UK licence for a driving licence from the country you’re living in and you may need to take a new driving test.

If you are already resident in an EU/EEA country, you can avoid this by exchanging your UK driving licence in the member state you live in before 29 March. UK licence holders who do this will be able to exchange that licence back to a UK licence if they return to live in the UK at a later date.

EU licence holders

Arrangements for EU licence holders who are visiting or living in the UK will not change after 29 March.

The UK does not require visiting motorists to hold a separate IDP to guarantee the recognition of their driving licence. This covers EU licence holders coming to the UK on holiday or driving on business.

EU licence holders visiting the UK can drive here as long as their licence remains valid. EU licence holders who are or become a UK resident can drive here with a valid licence until they reach the age of 70, or until three years after coming to live in the UK, whichever is later.

There are different restrictions in place for those who have a licence to drive lorries and buses.

For EU licence holders who passed their test in the EU or EEA, the UK will continue to exchange their licence as we do currently.

EU licence holders who passed their test outside the EU or EEA may have restrictions on licence exchange. As such, they may need to take a driving test to obtain a UK licence.

Find out more about exchanging a foreign driving licence.

Trailer Registration

Regardless of the outcome of EU negotiations, there are new requirements for the separate registration of commercial trailers from 28 March 2019.

All trailers weighing over 3,500kg will need to be registered. However, if your trailer is used for commercial purposes you’ll need to register it if it weighs over 750kg. This requirement will apply trailer used for journeys to, or through, all EU countries, with the exception of Ireland, Spain, Cyprus and Malta.

Trailers used solely domestically will not need to be registered.

More information on how to register your trailer is available here. The fee for registration is £26 per trailer.

Once a trailer is registered, it will be allocated a unique registration number which must be displayed on the trailer in addition to the existing registration number of the pulling vehicle.

You’ll also be sent a trailer registration certificate in the post which you must show foreign authorities upon request

Motor Insurance Green Cards

Green Cards are an international certificate of motor insurance. The EU is part of a Green Card-free circulation area. Currently, you do not need a motor insurance Green Card (to drive a UK registered vehicle in these countries).

In the event that there is no EU Exit deal and the UK and EU reach no separate agreement, drivers of UK registered vehicles will need to carry a motor insurance Green Card when driving in the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Andorra, Serbia and Switzerland.

You can contact your vehicle insurance provider to obtain a motor insurance Green Card.

Need to know more?

Keep track of the latest UK government information and advice on everything to do the UK’s exit from the EU.

Follow DVLA on TwitterFacebook and LinkedIn and subscribe to our Inside DVLA blog.

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Driving collaboration in Swansea

Andrew Falvey, DVLA’s Commercial Director, tells us all about the work he’s been doing to foster better networking relationships within the public sector in Swansea.

Andrew Falvey, DVLA's Commercial Director

Before I joined DVLA in 2010, I worked at Swansea Council as a Head of Service. At the time I often pondered that I knew very little about the place, even though I’m from Swansea and it was literally just up the road. I’d never been there, and I didn’t know anyone in a senior position that I could call up. I was told that there was a large commercial team there, for example, surely we’ve some things in common? Why weren’t we talking? This seemed like a missed opportunity to me.

Making the first move

Fast forward a few years, and I’m a director in DVLA, wondering if there is a way of improving communication and collaboration between Swansea’s largest public sector employers. Throughout my career I’ve always been wary of being too inward looking – I think it’s important to share best practice and learn from others, this helps organisations flex and adapt to challenges and opportunities.

So I emailed a few senior people in other local public sector bodies, some that I knew personally and some names plucked from the internet, and asked if they would be interested in forming some kind of group. Despite my cold calling, to my delight I had very positive responses and before long the Swansea Large Employers Forum was born.

Who we have on board

We’ve top level representation from ABMU Health Board, Swansea Council, Swansea University and University of Wales Trinity St David, plus of course DVLA. Between us, we employ around 40,000 staff. When you add on the local supply chains that support our organisations, it adds up to a huge impact on the working population of the Swansea area.

Why these organisations? Well, there was nothing scientific in our approach, we simply looked at public sector organisations in Swansea that employed over 1,000 people. We’ve kept it to the public sector as there are similarities in our working practices and legal frameworks that we operate under. We don’t ignore the progress and best practice that the private sector brings, so this often influences our conversations.

Given the ongoing work on the Swansea Bay City Deal, the forum provides a really useful opportunity for members to consider how we can work together in support of the Deal, for example around the skills agenda.

Taking the time to meet

We meet 4 times a year for a couple of hours – not a huge time commitment, but enough to provide a regular chance to catch up, and we always seek to take away actions that we can work on. It’s no surprise that when we meet we often have the same business challenges: skills shortages, recruitment, retention of staff, transport and parking. We also discuss how we work with local businesses, both in partnership and as part of a supply chain.

The forum has met several times, and we’re seeing the increasing value of sharing our views. We’re all from large and complex organisations to those outside, and the ability to be able to email or pick up the phone to someone who can advise, or simply help you to navigate to the correct person or team, is hugely helpful.

The group has also spawned some topical sub-groups. The ones that have already met are Cyber Security, Cloud, Human Resources, GDPR, and IT Strategy. These groups are introducing people with similar expertise to each other, often for the first time. The knowledge sharing and the willingness to co-operate has been great to see.

I’m grateful to my colleagues on the forum who continue to bring enthusiasm and ideas to our meetings. We all share a common purpose and that is to find ways we can improve public services, while supporting local people and businesses.

Keep up to date with the latest news about DVLA, including our latest vacancies.

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What I learned from teaching schoolchildren about DVLA

They say never work with children (or animals). But Nicola Braun, of DVLA Vehicle Business Services, proved this wrong recently when she visited a class of local schoolchildren to tell them all about DVLA.

I’ve always been nervous about public speaking as I’m quite shy by nature. But when I was asked to give a presentation about the agency to around sixty 10 to 11 year olds, I jumped at the challenge!

DVLA's Nicola Braun speaks to children about the agency

How it happened

At my daughter’s parents evening I was having a chat with her teacher when he asked me where I worked and what my role was. I explained about DVLA and what we do and talked a bit about my role in Vehicle Business Services.

He was really interested and asked if I’d like to present to year 6 pupils (including my daughter!) about my place of work and career. I immediately said yes. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do – as well as helping the children to develop and learn about something new, I knew I’d learn a lot from it as well.

Getting started

I got the clearances I needed from work to go ahead, then I started on my presentation. I made sure I included the kind of stats and numbers which would help to keep my young audience’s attention. For example, did you know that last year we issued more than 11 million driving licences? Or that our contact centre took around 14 million calls from customers? I felt it was important to get across the scale of what we do.

Presentation done, next it was on to the tricky bit…

DVLA's Nicola Braun speaks to primary school children about DVLA

New teacher nerves

Soon, it was ‘Presentation Day’. That morning I felt sick with nerves, thinking ‘Oh my gosh! I’ve never done this before, I hope I do well…’ But as soon as I went into the classroom, my butterflies went. I introduced myself and began my presentation.

The children really seemed to be paying attention, as they were scribbling away and making notes of my slides. I had to slow down so they could capture all the information I was relaying.

I think it’s important to teach children about staying on the right side of the law as early as possible, so I mentioned this in my presentation. Maybe the bit where I talked about the ‘consequences of not abiding by the law’ did the trick, as they gasped when I told them they could get a fine of up to £1,000 for not taxing a vehicle!

Any questions?

I was keen to make it a two-way presentation. I wanted the children to feel part of it, so we had a question and answer session next.

I was asked plenty of really good questions. “Do you enjoy your job?”, “What did you want to be when you were in school?”… When I was asked “How long have you worked for DVLA?”, I answered “17 years”. I got a “Wow!” for that one.

The most popular question I asked the children was “What type of vehicle would you like to drive?” Nearly every hand went up. From Maseratis to limousines, I must say that they had great taste in vehicles!

When I finished and left the school, I was on cloud nine with a real sense of accomplishment. I’d faced up to my fears of speaking in front of large crowds of people, and spread the word about DVLA into the bargain.

The verdict

Was it worth it? Definitely! Not only did it help my confidence, but I hope I gave the children some tips on how to abide by the law when they grow up.

I would say to anyone thinking of doing something similar, if you ever get the chance to do something like this, give it a go. Chances are you could be speaking to your future customers, stakeholders or even colleagues.

Keep up to date with the latest news about DVLA, including our latest vacancies.

Follow DVLA on TwitterFacebook and LinkedIn and subscribe to our Inside DVLA blog.

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Keep an eye on your vision for driving

New Vision Panel Secretary Dr Cathy Armstrong shares her professional advice on getting your eyesight checked for driving, and the extra challenges of driving in winter.

I was recently appointed joint DVLA Vision Panel Secretary alongside Dr Gareth Rees, and I’ve worked at DVLA for 2 and a half years. As it’s Road Safety Week, I thought it would be a good time to blog about eyesight and driving.

As drivers we often forget just how complex driving is, and being able to meet the vision standards for this complex activity is extremely important for road safety. It’s particularly important that if someone has been prescribed glasses or contact lenses for driving, they must wear them every time they drive to stay legal on the road.

Many of us wear glasses; maybe just for reading, maybe for all aspects of daily life – or a bit of both. However many people are prescribed glasses to make sure their eyesight meets the vision standards required by law for driving. Unfortunately, forgetfulness, vanity and difficulty tolerating glasses can result in unloved spectacles cluttering up car gloveboxes and handbags. But if they’re not worn, drivers are risking their own and other road users’ safety.

All drivers must be able to meet these eyesight standards as a legal requirement. They test both visual field and acuity – that is, the area your sight covers and how clearly you can see. A defect in your visual field may mean you struggle to see approaching hazards without having to look away from the road ahead. A reduction in your visual acuity could give you difficulty in reading road signs and signals. It’s also important to remember that those who drive for a living and have a group 2 (vocational) licence must meet higher standards for vision. This is because of the size and type of vehicles they drive, and the longer time spent behind the wheel.

Winter sky

Driving during the winter months can be particularly challenging, since weather conditions can make it difficult to see clearly. There are the darker mornings, glare from the low setting winter sun, reduced visibility in rain and fog, as well as wet and icy weather and shorter daylight hours… All of these factors can make driving conditions more hazardous at this time of year, particularly if you have any problems with your eyesight.

Eyesight deteriorates over time and this can happen at any age. Some drivers may be noticing some of the tell-tale signs that their eyesight is not as good as it used to be. You might be finding it harder to judge distances, struggling to read a newspaper, or maybe it’s getting more difficult for you to drive at night. That’s why we recommend that all drivers have their vision tested at least every 2 years. If you notice any change in your eyesight, go and see your optician straightaway – don’t wait until your next check-up or when your driving licence is due for renewal.

If you don’t meet the eyesight standards, stop driving immediately and tell DVLA. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

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