CALGARY, Alta. - Pre-employment testing is a crucial part of the hiring process and the Canadian Trucking Human Resources Council (CTHRC) has introduced a test to the trucking industry to help in that regard.
MEASURING UP: TOWES lets employers gauge their drivers' skill levels.
CALGARY, Alta. – Pre-employment testing is a crucial part of the hiring process and the Canadian Trucking Human Resources Council (CTHRC) has introduced a test to the trucking industry to help in that regard.
The Test of Workplace Essential Skills (TOWES) measures an individual’s essential skills and compares them to standards developed by the International Adult Literacy Survey and Human Resources and Skills Development Canada.
Carriers and driver training schools that have implemented the testing procedure within their company shared their experiences at the CTHRC’s recently held Essential Skills Conference in Calgary, Alta.
The test was used to measure the abilities of drivers and driver trainers in three key areas: reading text, document use and numeracy. Most participants found their drivers and driver trainers were initially reluctant to participate in the program, but those who did valued the experience in the end.
“Adults do not like to be tested, it puts them in a less than receptive mood,” pointed out Brian Adams, president of Crossroads Truck Training Academy. “Very few people were willing to come forward – some of them thought it was going to impact their final job opportunities.”
Gail Sharko, director of quality, health, safety and environment with the ECL Group of Companies encountered the same initial resistance while giving the test to 58 of its drivers.
“There was a big concern that this was going to be used against them – their initial reaction was not positive,” admitted Sharko.
John Wallis, manager of quality and education with Arnold Brothers Transport, suggested employers should “Be clear with people. Tell them what we hope to do with (the test). It should not be used as a stick. Ease their fears and answer their questions.”
Those carriers that did subject their drivers and prospective hires to the TOWES test all agreed it was a valuable pre-screening tool. It helped carriers determine the strengths and weaknesses within their roster and then address them. A carrier whose drivers scored low on the documentation use segment of the test for instance, could modify its own documents to make them more user-friendly or easily-understandable.
Bruce Richards, president of the Private Motor Truck Council, pointed out another benefit of the test.
“We see this as raising the bar for entry into this profession, which in turn makes this profession more attractive,” he said.
Representatives from Eastern Canada were so impressed with the TOWES test that some suggested it be adopted as a replacement to the CAAT test currently used there.
Ted Sparkes, general manager of the Atlantic Transport Training Academy, said “We strongly recommend that TOWES become a province-wide (New Brunswick) screening process and the CAAT test go out the door.”
He said New Brunswick currently has a poor screening process in place and “I could see TOWES was going to address a lot of the concerns we have.”
While everyone was in agreement that TOWES is a worthwhile test, training school representatives wondered who would pay?
“Every time we raise our level of training in this business we raise our costs,” said Crossroads’ Adams.
“Every time you add a layer of difficulty to us, we need to be remunerated – we need to raise the amount we receive from funding agencies.”
Roy Nichols, president and general manager of Commercial Safety College agreed, adding “A concern to our school would be the cost. It would certainly be a negative if the cost was passed onto the student.”