What is the overall impact of the initiative and how is this measured?
- Employer uptake (Gold standard for national projects)
- User feedback – Who’s using the tools, and what have they said? (See the included TOWES 100 000 document)
- Essential skills training materials – did they work?
- Re-calibration process ensures the test is still valid and relevant
What challenges have you faced and how were these overcome?
• Raising awareness and communicating the importance of assessment as a tool to help not to hinder
• Essential Skills are not as obvious as technical skills; but you still have to get people to recognize the importance of these skills
• TOWES paper-based and web-based assessments allow for constructed (i.e., open-ended) responses. Constructed response is important to the TOWES approach. Other web-based assessments rely on multiple choice questions, which assess different competencies.
• Need to help people be comfortable & confident when taking the test
What are 3 key lessons you learned from developing or delivering your initiative? What advice from those lessons would you share with others?
One key lesson is the importance of face validity; if you see yourself in what you’re learning from, it will have a greater impact on you.
What have participants, stakeholders and partners thought, felt and/or said about your initiative?
“Essential skills are the silent hero in workplaces today. The Trucking Human Resource Sector Council Atlantic and in turn the Industry we represent, recognizes the need for these key skills to be evaluated and enhanced.
Having been a strong partner of Bow Valley College for more than 10 years, essential skills measurement is part of our entry level standard and the culture we are building among workplaces. The diverse tools BVC has developed, allows for cost-effective one stop shopping that serves our needs very well.”
– Kelly Henderson
Other testimonials are listed in the TOWES 100 000 attached document.
Incorporation of Essential Skills
Which Essential Skills are covered by the initiative?
How are the Essential Skills integrated into your initiative?
TOWES assesses whether or not a learner has these skills, and to what degree – as a result, the test is a component of many Essential Skills initiatives. The three-domain assessments include items related to reading, document use, and numeracy. There are also two and one-domain versions of the assessment. It is important that users of the assessment understand purpose for which each version is best suited.
How do you assess participant Essential Skills?
Constant, formative evaluation – assessment takes place pre-, during, or post-program to improve outcomes.
Test takers complete a series of essential skill based tasks (test questions) which are linked to the IALS/ES scale. Test question responses are evaluated resulting in a reported essential skill proficiency level for each domain measured. To be considered proficient at a particular level, a test-taker needs to complete 80% of the test items, at that level, correctly. For example, to receive a score of level 3 in Reading Text, the test taker successfully completed at least 80% of the questions on the assessment that are scaled at level 3. They may have completed some questions at level 4 correctly, but if not 80% then not enough to receive a score of level 4.
What are the components of the initiative?
Occupation-specific skills training
Occupational certifications and/or licensing
Work-integrated learning (i.e., internships, co-ops, work placements, etc.)
Career and/or educational planning
Job search services
How was Indigenous culture integrated into the program content or delivery?
Items with Indigenous face validity have been developed for TOWES; tests on writing, document use, and numeracy use examples more applicable to an Indigenous cultural context.
As TOWES was created to prepare people for the variety of the Canadian workplace, it can address some specific cultural examples, but is meant to apply to the overall Canadian landscape.
What do you think are the most important competencies and attributes for staff involved in this initiative to have?
• Staff need to be organized, and have a clear understanding of the administrative process – need to make sure the test is administered properly and the same way across the country
• Staff also need to have a good understanding of the role of ES in success
• Staff need to know how to communicate effectively so that people feel supported and understand what they’re being asked to do
Online training and webinars are available to prepare people to deliver training.
Who are your partners, and what is their involvement in the initiative?
Statistics Canada – an early partner who helped determine the validity of the assessment and included items from IALS.
Distributor networks from across Canada – promote the use of the tool and provide feedback. This network includes colleges and employment agencies.