Thursday, January 26, 2012

I can count, I can...

I am, somewhat unexpectedly, being educated again. Well, I say educated, in that I am part of an HM Revenue & Customs pilot study, testing the value of the NVQ Level 2 in Operational Delivery.

I've met my assessor, Barry, and done the mandatory literacy and numeracy tests. And that's my first concern. The picture shows one of the sixteen numeracy test questions, indeed, one of the more difficult ones.

Remember, I'm a tax official, working in an organisation that requires academic evidence of numeracy as part of our recruitment process. I have an 'O' level, two 'A' levels and a degree in Mathematics. I do find myself wondering why I am obliged to take a test that I would have been upset at failing when I was five. It appears to be 'education by box ticking', something that I don't really approve of.

And, to be blunt, it doesn't appear to be particularly rigorous. Keep the answers short, I am told, avoid detail. There I was, thinking that this might offer an opportunity to give some serious thought as to the way we function, and whether or not we provide a service that meets the actual needs of our customers, rather than one that fits with what we're willing to provide. Clearly, I am being naïve.

Once upon a time, we had proper, rigorous training, where you were taught not only what to do, but why you are doing it. But that's expensive, so instead consultants are brought in to break down our work into simple bite-sized chunks that a slightly slow gibbon could master.

That's fine, so long as you have a basic knowledge of the job. However, if you don't, as soon as something unusual crops up, you're floundering at the end of a long rope, with managers appointed on the basis of managerial competence, rather than any knowledge of your job.

And that, my friends, is why bureaucrats become jobsworths. If in doubt, stick to the letter of the law...

1 comment:

Liberal Neil said...

Further I would expect anyone working at your level to know that it is always cheaper to get a return ticket ;-)