Tweak approach to vocational licensing of private-hire car drivers

Recently, I was forced to rethink the value of having private-hire car drivers undergo the required vocational training and pass the course's test.

I met an elderly driver, who shared with me the difficulty he has had in passing this computer-based test the few times he has taken it.

I understand the rationale for professionalising this service, but was disturbed by the nature of some of the questions, the inflexibility of the assessment method and the absence of feedback to test-takers.

A few test questions did not seem directly related to the job scope, such ashow to handle terrorism and what the heart rate of a person having a heart attack is.

In terms of the assessment method, why not consider those used by the Advanced Certificate in Training and Assessment programmes? These not only assess a learner's actual ability to facilitate a lesson but also the knowledge of key principles.

The latter, however, is assessed in a variety of ways, including through an open-book test that uses pen and paper, as well as an oral assessment. This recognises that while some learners have acquired understanding, they cannot always demonstrate this via a paper test.

With regard to the test for private-hire car drivers, I suggest that an assessment method that simulates the actual job demands be considered. For example, the assessor could be a passenger in the vehicle while he evaluates the test-taker's ability to follow routes using GPS technology and his skills in navigating traffic, among others.

Currently, test-takers not used to reading and writing are at a disadvantage and may be intimidated by having to use a computer to take the assessment.

This test also does not tell them where they fall short, meaning they cannot learn from their mistakes. The elderly driver I met, for instance, was left wondering where he had gone wrong after each test. This guesswork neither aids his preparation for his next attempt nor encourages persistence.

Perhaps the authorities could look into ways to tweak the approach to vocational licensing such that it rightly separates the wheat from the chaff, while rewarding the important attributes that contribute to the professionalisation of the private-hire industry.

Ortega Gerard James

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 09, 2018, with the headline 'Tweak approach to vocational licensing of private-hire car drivers'. Print Edition | Subscribe