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It's only fare your cabby should get hire qualifications

What do lecturers and taxi drivers have in common? There are the obvious puns based on The Knowledge and "delivering" people to their "destinations". But now it seems we share a lot more, particularly when it comes to things that other people think we should be doing.

Just as lecturers aren't allowed simply to teach people what they want to know any more, so cabbies have learnt there's a lot more to transporting the public than simply driving them around.

You might have noticed stories in the press recently about Bournemouth cabbies losing their licences because they haven't passed Btecs. The full title of the qualification is Transporting Passengers by Taxi and Private Hire. Bournemouth Council has made passing it a condition for granting a licence.

Although only Bournemouth has made it compulsory so far, drivers nationwide have been taking the qualification since its introduction in 2005. So next time you get in a cab, watch closely for signs that your driver has been on the course.

First, be prepared for the journey to take a little longer than usual. Part of the training involves meeting and greeting people in the appropriate manner. If their cheery "Hi" is met by indifference, they might try, "Hello, Mr Jones, and how are you today?" If you are a regular, they will probably call upon their lessons in "establishing a friendly rapport", asking in detail about the health of your family.

Once that's over, dealing with your luggage is likely to take a while, now your driver has been trained to complete a full risk assessment for each piece. If their paperwork for this is anything like what we have in colleges, you'd be wise to have a set of marking with you to while away the time.

At last you're on the road. But you can't help noticing you're driving more slowly than usual. That's because your driver is trying out his or her new skills in reading body language through the rear view mirror. In particular, the driver will be looking out for annoyance, vagueness and humour. Presumably they'll also notice that you're going bonkers back there because of all the delays.

You arrive at the station to find your train left 10 minutes ago. Not to worry. Having been fully trained in conflict management (based on the "five animal role models"), your driver won't let you do anything you might regret.

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