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EXPERIENCED train drivers are being forced to solve maths puzzles difficult enough to stump even university-level mathematics students to qualify for a job at Queensland Rail.
The puzzles, obtained by The Courier-Mail, are part of the online psychometric test experienced train drivers, including qualified drivers working for private freight operator Aurizon, must complete to reach the next level of recruitment and score a job interview.
Aurizon drivers seeking a QR job have expressed dismay at the difficulty of some test questions and query why it has taken nearly three weeks to learn whether they passed.
One driver, speaking on condition of anonymity, said two colleagues had given up waiting and accepted jobs for interstate operators.
An example of a puzzle used in Queensland Rail psychometric testing. The answer is the E symbol (second from left).It comes amid the ongoing chronic driver shortage that forced QR to indefinitely adopt a dramatically pared back timetable to avoid a repeat of last year’s mass service cancellations.
University of Queensland mathematics professor Peter Adams rated the puzzles so difficult that he believed some of his own students studying advanced maths would fail.
“I suspect that people who weren’t mathematicians or computer scientists or logicians would find them hard,” he said.
“My students would find them hard.”
The test gave applicants just a few minutes to solve each of the questions and only one chance at the test.
Did you guess that the answer is the middle box?Concerns about the psychometric testing come after The Courier-Mail last month revealed dozens of Aurizon drivers’ job applications had been rejected without explanation. This is despite drivers having qualified to apply as previous employees of QR.
Transport Minister Jackie Trad was forced to intervene by directing QR to reassess the applications.
QR chief executive officer Nick Easy defended the recruitment process yesterday, saying psychometric testing had been in use since 2011 to determine drivers’ suitability.
He said independent assessment had found the testing had reduced safety risks. Ms Trad also defended the testing, saying it was international best practice.
An example of a puzzle used in Queensland Rail psychometric testing. The answer is on the far right.The February driver recruitment advertising campaign sparked controversy after QR ignored a key recommendation of the Strachan Inquiry into its driver crisis by restricting job applicants to experienced former QR train drivers.
Queensland Rail debacle continues to frustrate commuters
The inquiry recommended scrapping controversial closed-shop hiring rules, which gave first preference to QR guards, by opening the jobs to all applicants. It had found QR operated with a built-in driver shortage preference to pump up paid overtime for drivers, which was linked to restrictions on being able to recruit train crew externally.
The inquiry also heavily criticised the degree of union control over hiring and crewing at QR.
Rail Tram & Bus Union state secretary Owen Doogan yesterday did not return calls.
This article first appeared on www.couriermail.com.au
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