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Essential skills testing now included in accreditation

OTTAWA, Ont. -- The Canadian Trucking Human Resources Council (CTHRC) has announced the mandatory inclusion of esse...

OTTAWA, Ont. — The Canadian Trucking Human Resources Council (CTHRC) has announced the mandatory inclusion of essential skill testing for facility accreditation.

In 2004, the CTHRC conducted a landmark study that conclusively demonstrated there is a direct link between essential skills and safety. Working with the Canadian Petroleum Products Institute, the council discovered that the lower the level of essential skills of the employee, the more likely they were to be involved in an accident or incident.

In light of this evidence, the CTHRC has decided to make essential skill testing a mandatory part of entry-level driver training facilities that want to be accredited to industry standards. Certification to national standards includes meeting the essential skills pre-employment levels either upon entering the course or before the end of the program. Students will be required to meet this standard in order to be granted recognition by CTHRC.

The Test of Workplace Essential Skills for Professional Driver (TOWES-PD) is a customized assessment tool that enables a carrier or school to identify the knowledge gaps that an individual has and offer upgrading courses. The three essential skills that are predictors of success in learning and maintaining driving skills are reading text, document use (reading maps, filling in bills of lading) and numeracy (fuel calculations, weight dimensions).

Many truck driving schools across the country already have literacy testing in place. However, Kelly Henderson, executive director of the (Nova Scotia) Trucking Human Resources Sector Council, said essential skill testing is different because it tests an individual’s adaptability skills rather than their education level. She also said essential skill testing is a much more useful tool for the trucking industry than benchmarking a grade level.

“Essential skills are directly linked to truck driver training. If the new entrant does not have the basic essential skills required to meet industry standards, he or she will have more difficulties working within the industry and may only be employed for a short period of time, if at all,” Henderson said. “Using TOWES as a screening tool allows us to assess the individual’s (skill) levels and provides the upgrading necessary to new entrants either prior to, or during the truck driver training program to ensure higher potential for success upon entrance into the trucking industry.”

“This will also help with driver retention,” Henderson said. “The driver will be acquiring skills to do their job safely and efficiently.”

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