London software testing news UK

The London Knowledge Testing Future

Posted in Acceptance testing by testing in London on October 7, 2007

From Bloomberg 

The Knowledge, as the 142-year-old test is known, is under threat. The London Chamber of Commerce and Industry and lawmakers in the London Assembly are pressing for an easier exam because of a cabbie shortage. Drivers say dumbing down the test would reduce service and be unfair to everyone who has passed the current version.

The number of licensed London cabbies has dropped by about 250 annually over the past three years, according to the Public Carriage Office. The average age of London’s 25,000 cab drivers is 52, and more are over 70 than under 30, the regulator said.

Mayor Ken Livingstone wants to increase the number of taxis as part of an effort to cut car use because cabs take people to locations not currently served by public transportation.Preparing for the test is so intensive that the portion of the brain that governs navigation is “significantly” larger in cabbies than the average person, according to a study of brain scans from 16 drivers that was published in 2000 by researchers at University College London.

The time it takes to pass the Knowledge has increased to an average of 40 months from 11 months in 1970.A shortage of examiners in the 1980s led to a change in the testing method that has increased waiting times. In the past, candidates passed the exam in stages. Today they are required to learn the whole syllabus and start testing after two years of study.

The fact that most testing is done in face-to-face interviews with current drivers may deter younger candidates and ethnic minorities, the London Assembly and the Chamber of Commerce have said in reports on the industry.

Last year, the Knowledge testing system was accredited by City & Guilds, which certifies work qualifications. The distinction proves the high calibre of the test, said Bob Oddy, chairman of the London Taxi Drivers Association, a union that represents 8,000 cabbies.

Some of those trying to join the brotherhood of black-cab drivers say Londoners would lose out if the test is dumbed down.

London software testing company 

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