Blog dedicated primarily to randomly selected news items; comments reflecting personal perceptions

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Gaming the Job Market

"I was surprised, for sure. That's way higher than it's ever been."
"I guess they knew they were getting tested and still decided to do coke. It really makes me think."
"Imagine coming home and telling your wife why you didn't get this job? They all want to blame the system, but they should take a look in the mirror."
"I can't let someone like that work for me. They could hurt themselves or someone around them."
Leonard Banga, owner, Xtreme Mining and Demolition, Saskatoon
About XMD
video still from Xtreme Mining and Demolition website

Mr. Banga's business is booming, and  he's expanding, prepared to enter the Alberta and British Columbia market with a growing number of contracts to be fulfilled. So he's looking to add to his experienced staff. He's managed to fill the positions he advertised, but the process hasn't been without its complications. The issue that bogged him down in the process of bringing in new employees for his business was the revelation that most of those applying initially for the advertised positions appear to have misunderstood the gravity of the business and what would be required of them.

Right on the application for employment with Xtreme Mining and Demolition it states that employees must be drug-free. There is a test they must undergo as part of the application process. Applicants are given advance warning when the test is to take place. The positions they apply for require intelligence, experience, capability and rational thinking. Drug use compromises all of those criteria. Which is a pity, since the work would appeal to many men who like working outdoors.

And the risks inherent in such work also appeal to many men, accompanied by the teamwork and the kind of atmosphere that prevails when men work together under such circumstances. All of which would be compromised if one worker presented under the influence of drugs, with severely impaired judgement. The seriousness of the matter cannot be over-emphasized; no owner of such a company would be happy to discover an horrible accident had occurred, and he is ultimately responsible.

Last month brought 26 people responding to Mr. Banga's company's search for workers. Of that 26, 22 were found in fault, failing a standard drug test. All of the 26 presented with the required equipment training in their background, some of them with sales experience or university education as well. The advertised positions are plum jobs to many people, and the pay can't be faulted at between $30 and $45 hourly.

Not too many jobs in Saskatoon pay so well. A few months of special training is required, and for those who qualify to be trained, who are capable of performing well and display a sound work ethic, not even a high school diploma is required. People willing to work on sites in northern Canada, he pointed out, can earn up to $65 an  hour. But finding the workers who both qualify and haven't compromised themselves proved a head-scratcher.

Of the 22 who failed the drug test, 17 were identified as having traces of cocaine, while only one was detected with marijuana in his urine, and another with amphetamines in his sample. Two others were found to have used chemical agents in an attempt to mask their illicit drug use. One man went to the rather unorthodox method of securing a urine-filled bag under his armpit with a tube, to provide his urine sample.

Lori Boen of Your Choice Drug and Alcohol Testing who is contracted by Xtreme Mining and Demolition to undertake the drug-testing portion of the application process, the need for which is clearly set out in the application form itself, said a few of the failed applicants admitted they had conducted a home test before arriving for the screening. Their home test assured them they would present negative for drug use; the result of the professional screening surprised them.

Ms. Boen's specialized training as a registered nurse has equipped her well to know how rigorous the test she applies is, capable of catching drug use that other testers could not. Her test checks for seven types of drugs, along with masking agents. Her test is even able to detect abnormalities in the temperature of the urine, determining whether it emanated from within the applicant's body or not.

"I feel bad for them, but everyone has a right to come home safe", she observed.

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