Post – police work switch flops as many fail grammar test

Nearly half of all post office clerks applying to work for the police as part of a special labour exchange programme failed basic grammar and spelling tests, it has been announced.The federal interior ministry said today (Thurs) that 759 employees of state-owned postal services provider Post AG and mobile communication services firm Telekom Austria (TA) have applied for positions at the Austrian police since the staff swap model was presented one and a half years ago. The ministry said 81 staff withdrew their application before sitting the tests while 304 failed them.The employment cooperation between the Austrian police, Post AG and TA was set up to ease the burden on officers. The public pressure on police was up especially in 2009 when a dramatic year on year increase of crimes was reported.The interior ministry, which is in charge of political issues regarding the country’s police, decided to approach Post AG and TA over providing office staff to police to do policemen’s administrative duties, bureaucratic tasks and office work. Post AG and TA have tried to reduce staff figures as part of ongoing cost-cutting measures. TA may lay off hundreds of employees in the coming months, according to reports, while Post AG is forced to continue paying unwanted employees since their contracts mean they are irredeemable.The interior ministry was of the opinion that the cooperation between police and the companies would mean police can send more officers on the beat in their effort to slash crime rates.The ministry explained today that Post AG and TA workers willing to take on office jobs at the police have two chances to pass the mandatory acceptance tests. The exams include a trivial check on applicants’ computer and internet skills focusing on handling Microsoft Word and sending e-mails. Those who pass these tests are then face spelling and grammar checks which – according to the ministry – do not exceed basic school difficulty levels.Officials said just 275 of the 347 applicants who passed the tests eventually started working for the police. Post AG decided in February 2010 to reward 10,000 Euros to staff who cannot be dismissed due to their contract agreements if they opt for the employment cooperation programme with the police. The interior ministry hoped the agreement would mean that the Austrian police will be supported with 1,000 staff to do office tasks by 2014.News that the office work cooperation plan failed to be a successful way to employ surplus staff at Post AG and TA comes shortly after the Viennese police announced that more than four in 10 applicants fail the German language test.”Forty-one per cent do not pass the mandatory German test. The spelling skills of both Austrian applicants and those with a migration background are insufficient,” a spokeswomen recently explained.