Conestoga news

January 16, 2008 1:57 PM

Improving Your Workplace Through TOWES

Elmira Truck Service Limited, located in Elmira ON., has been providing quality Fleet Maintenance for over 35 years. Some of our services include: all aspects of truck and trailer maintenance, Government Safety Inspections and Emissions testing (Diesel). In addition to our truck and trailer maintenance services, we also offer our 24-hour Cardlock advanced technology fuel management and environmentally compliant system.
Glenn Gringrich
Elmira Truck employs nine people – two members of the management team, three Truck and Coach apprentices and four licensed Truck and Coach Mechanics who provide high quality and personalized service to the trucking industry. (The two managers are also Truck and Coach Mechanics.)

Currently there is a tremendous need for highly skilled, flexible Truck and Coach Mechanics to meet the challenges of Canada’s growing transportation system. Stricter regulations and standards are being implemented at all levels and the changes in operational systems require constant on the job learning.

In order to maintain our high standards and remain current with new and developing technologies, Elmira Truck is proud to foster workplace learning and training for our staff and managers. In working with Conestoga College’s Job Connect program, we were pleased to participate in the integration of Essential Skills into workplace based HR practices project. In working with the College on this project, we were able to have our staff and managers benefit from both the direct and indirect returns of working with the Essential Skills and TOWES initiative.

When introduced to this opportunity, we decided to have two of our Truck and Coach apprentices and our Service Manager participate in the project. The depth and scope of the work that has been done in the area of Essential Skills is very impressive and we quickly realized that this was an opportunity that we needed to take advantage of. We worked with Earla Smith, the Employment Training Consultant from the Job Connect program at Conestoga College who initially introduced us to the Essential Skills and TOWES – “Measure-Up” websites. We spent about two hours reviewing various Essential Skills profiles in order to understand the actual complexity levels of the tasks that we perform each day as well as those of other occupations. By working through some of the authentic workplace material as practice, we felt prepared to proceed with writing the level G-2 TOWES.

We found the level G-2 TOWES test, which we wrote, used very practical applications in testing reading skills. In the document use, it was obvious that there was the need to retrieve information at all levels and the numeracy covered most foundational applications of math in the workplace. We were all impressed by the broad spectrum of topics covered which tapped into a wide variety of knowledge and varying skill levels. Of particular interest was the range in the types of questions and problem sets used from a variety of occupations. Writing the test proved to be a team building experience as we shared our stories around the actual test writing.

The Employment Training Consultant met with the participants in order to debrief and review our individual TOWES results and provided recommendations on how we might address the gaps that were identified. The Essential Skill requirements for Truck and Coach Mechanic are as follows: Reading Text 3, Document Use 3 and Numeracy 2. While we were pleased with our results, we recognized that we had somewhat struggled with the Document Use piece and our results reflected this. With the coaching of the Training Consultant we made the decision to proceed with the recommendation for skill enhancement in workplace document use. Given that our scores were close to the actual requirements, we decided to proceed with self-directed study with material provided by our Consultant.

We could not be more pleased with this experience. It provided each of the participants with the opportunity to assess and validate individual capacity and skills. The results provided, in a contextualized manner, an understanding of why we may sometimes struggle with certain tasks, especially in our ability to work faster and smarter in our very fast paced work environment.

As a result of this experience, we have seen changes in how we work: we have seen
our young apprentices become more engaged and react to situations with enhanced confidence and ability. There is a greater commitment to their educational goals given that they recognize they can and will be successful in the in-class portion of their apprenticeship training.

As an organization, we will continue to promote enhanced training opportunities, skills development and mentorship in order to develop a lifelong learning attitude. My involvement and commitment to this now includes volunteer work in an advisory capacity with Conestoga’s Truck and Coach Mechanic program. We are proud to have played a role in this project and work with Conestoga College. Our thanks to Sherri Tryon, Conestoga’s Job Connect Manager and Earla Smith, Employment Training Consultant, Job Connect.

Glenn Gingrich
Service Manager
Elmira Truck Service Limited