Firms step up to meet demand

Operators urged to organise personal licence refresher training now

• Training firms expect courses to fill up as the first SCPLHR deadline on August 31st approaches.

TRAINERS across Scotland have ramped up availability of personal licence holder refresher training after it emerged thousands of licensees across the country have still to complete the course ahead of the deadline in three months’ time.

Training companies have told SLTN they are pulling out all the stops to meet what is expected to be high demand for places on courses as operators clamour to obtain the Scottish Certificate for Personal Licence Holders (SCPLH) (Refresher) qualification by the August 31 deadline.
However, trainers have warned that despite their plans to increase course places, licensees should act sooner rather than later – particularly because the deadline falls outwith college term times and at a time when many people take annual leave.
“The challenge is to get the individual pub tenant or convenience store owner to recognise the necessity to get this done early,” said CPL Training director Paul Chase.
“The college training infrastructure closes down in the summer.
“This will place extra strain on the resources of private sector training providers to fill the gap.”
Michelle Hazelwood of licensing solicitors John Gaunt & Partners agreed that timing could cause problems for personal licence holders expecting to complete their refresher training during the summer.
“With this in mind we have urged operators to plan early in relation to refresher training, those who leave training to the last minute may find themselves unable to secure course places,” said Hazelwood.
And it isn’t just college term times that could make training difficult for operators this summer, according to Gayle Johnstone of Tennent’s Training Academy, who highlighted this year’s packed summer schedule as another obstacle to finding the time to renew personal licences this summer.
“I think that operators need to remember that we have an exciting and busy time ahead of us in the trade with events like the Commonwealth Games and that no one will have the time or staff available to send people on training courses at these times,” she said.
“My advice is not to leave it until the last minute and to get your training booked now.”
The advice was echoed by Robin Morton of Robin Morton Licensing, who warned that the consequences of missing the deadline are dire.
“If you are a designated premises manager (DPM) your premises cannot sell alcohol until you have been replaced as DPM,” said Morton.
“Furthermore, you cannot reapply for another personal licence within five years of revocation, meaning you can’t authorise staff to sell alcohol or work in management for that period.
“It is so important; not just doing the training – that’s not enough – you need to notify the board in time too.”
A lack of clarity concerning the timescale for completing refresher training was highlighted by Joanne Worral of Twist Training.
“Based on feedback from people I have spoken to, there is still much confusion towards refresher training amongst some licence holders,” she said.
“Some are waiting to be informed of the need to complete the training from the licensing board whilst others are not sure when their original licence was granted and have perhaps mislaid it.
“Whilst I’ve noticed the numbers picking up slightly, I know a large number who have yet to arrange to sit a course.”
The number of PLHs still to complete training and submit evidence of it to their licensing board was also highlighted by Steve Wadelik of Belendon Hospitality.

We have urged operators to plan early in relation to refresher training.

We have urged operators to plan early in relation to refresher training.
“The real challenge will be when everybody with a need for refresher [training] wakes up and realises the dire state they are in,” he said.
“If there are 20,000 still to do it (an average sum) and if the licensing boards comply with the regulations, then we only have 16 to 17 weeks to complete. So an easy calculation is there needs to be 1000 personal licence holders sitting the refresher course every week for the next 16 weeks.”
Michelle Brennan of vocational education and training organisation City & Guilds said the provision of refresher training is expected to increase as the deadline approaches.
“Ahead of August 31, many of our centres have increased the availability of refresher courses over the summer months to help to accommodate the rush,” she said.
Mike Wroe of the Highfield Awarding Body for Compliance (HABC) said it will be “fully supporting all our centres which intend to provide additional courses”.
“Our advice would be to not wait and ensure you and your staff undertake your SCPLHR immediately,” said Wroe.
Frazer Grant of ABV Training agreed that the number of renewal applications is likely to rise sharply.
“Inevitably, I think there will be a last minute rush,” said Grant, who said his firm will also be putting on extra courses as the deadline approaches.
“I would urge people to book a course as early as they can,” he added.
However, not all PLHs have left their refresher training until the last minute.
“The general response to the training has been good, with candidates appreciating the opportunity to refresh their knowledge, share experiences and ensure that they are up-to-date with legislation,” said Linda Bowie of Alcohol Focus Scotland.