The FTA has called for so-called ‘delegated examiners’ to be allowed to conduct vocational driving tests in the place of regular DVSA test examiners.

The call comes after the government agency cancelled all outstanding training courses for delegated examiners at its Cardington, Bedfordshire, training facility through to the end of March.

In a letter sent to those with bookings on its delegated examiner training courses, the DVSA said that demand for vocational tests was forecast to rise significantly and it therefore needed to increase the number of vocational driving examiners it had at its own disposal.

Delegated examiners are used predominantly by larger companies to conduct commercial vehicle driving tests within their own organisation and may not currently conduct tests for anyone else.

Typically, said the DVSA, delegated examiners each undertake 40-75 driving tests during any given year while its own examiners can carry out up to 900. “We therefore intend to defer delegated examiner training for the remainder of this business year and instead concentrate on training our employees,” it stated in its letter to those booked on courses.

A DVSA spokeswoman told the agency anticipated demand for vocational tests would rise from 75,000 a year at present to over 115,000 in the 2016-2017 financial year and that it intended to begin direct recruitment of 23 additional vocational examiners in September.

Suspending delegated examiner training “makes sense at the moment”, said FTA head of licensing policy and compliance information, James Firth, but he added that the delegated examiner process should be reformed to allow such examiners to test drivers from other organisations in the future.

“This will allow the flexibility for delegated examiners to reach the efficiency levels of DVSA examiners,” he said.

The DVSA currently has 250 examiners who can carry out vocational tests, of whom just 86 are permanently deployed on vocational testing.