Edit 26/05/2018: the English language requirement has been modified. TFL has just extended the deadline to prove that drivers meet the B1 standard. From the statement released by TFL, two points are to be remembered:
1- The deadline has now been extended to the 30th April 2019.
2- This extension is put in place in order to elaborate a new English exam more suitable and adapted to the industry. This responds to the point raised in the last paragraph of this article where we stressed that the current exam to take is not relevant to the profession.
What does TFL want?
Every PH driver that applied for or renewed his license from the 14th of October 2016 has until the 30th of April 2019 to prove that he or she is able to communicate in English at a good standard; B1 level to be precise. A failure to do so can result in a withdrawal of the license granted. If you applied before the 14th October, you need to provide evidence when you renew your license.
That is a new requirement that is part of the TFL agenda to reduce PH numbers. New requirement, tougher application and new costs too, as the potential exam to take is not free. And this applies to all, even those who were born and bred in UK.
What to do?
There are many ways to justify a B1 level of English:
1- Any exam already undertaken in the English language by the driver that is at least at GCSE level and can justify a B1 level in writing, speaking, reading and listening skills. E.g: English GCSE, GCE or A-level, Bachelor’s degree, Master’s degree etc.
See also on TFL website.
An English language requirement that does not meet the job’s requirements
There is one thing that is important to know is that TFL tends to scrutinize all proof of certificate sent. As an example, the NVQ can be accepted or not depending on the type and the fact that it clearly shows or not the ability to communicate in English at a good level. Even a document from an accepted and approved centre will go through a phase of authentication.
It is true that to raise standards in the PH industry, a test of English is a step to go through. But the aim behind this English language requirement is more to regulate and make becoming a PH driver harder in order to reduce numbers.
Along with the increase of compliance officers , the agenda is everything apart from raising standards. Indeed, if the concern was only to raise the standards, a reading, speaking and listening test should be enough. There is no need for a writing one, as this skill is not necessary to do the job.