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Essential skills profile

This profile contains a list of example tasks that illustrate how each of the 9 essential skills is generally performed by most workers in this occupation. The levels of complexity estimated for each task are ranked between 1 (basic) and 5 (advanced).

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Lock and Cable Ferry Operators and Related Occupations(7533)

This unit group includes workers who operate lock gates, bridges and similar equipment along canal systems, workers who operate cable ferries and ferry terminal workers. They are employed by the federal government, cable ferry companies and in ferry terminals.

Reading Help - Reading
  • Read notices to obtain information on water conditions, such as decreases in water levels. (1)
  • Read memos from regulatory authorities, such as the Ministry of Transportation and the Coast Guard, to stay abreast of changes to regulations. (2)
  • Read pamphlets about the history of the canal system at the beginning of each season to relay this information to users and answer questions. (2)
  • Read manuals to ensure that vehicles are in conformance with regulations relating to the transportation of goods, selecting the relevant information from several sections. (3)
Document use Help - Document use
  • May read permits for vessels using the canal system to ensure that they are valid by checking such information as the expiry date. (1)
  • May read bills of lading and Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) labels to identify dangerous goods and determine whether they are being transported correctly. (2)
  • May read ferry or lock schedules to assist passengers in planning their connections. (2)
  • May complete forms to record information relating to safety checks, the number of passengers and vehicles and the use of maintenance equipment. (2)
  • May read tide tables to adjust lock equipment or to operate cable ferries accordingly. (3)
Writing Help - Writing
  • Write brief notes to transfer information to operators on other shifts. (1)
  • Maintain log books recording lock or ferry information relating to weather, customer complaints, unusual problems or maintenance requirements. (1)
  • May complete claim forms for insurance purposes. (2)
  • Complete reports recording the details of incidents or accidents, such as when a car is damaged during loading, documenting what actions were taken, steps taken to prevent a recurrence and whether there were witnesses. Accuracy is important because the report may be used in a court of law. (3)
Numeracy Help - Numeracy Money Math
  • May reconcile the cash at the end of each shift. (1)
  • May total the charges for lock or ferry services, applying rates for passengers, vessels and vehicles, and receive payments. (2)
Scheduling, Budgeting & Accounting Math
  • May monitor ferry schedules to advise connecting passengers about actual arrival and departure times or monitor the hours of operation of various locks to respond to questions from boaters. (1)
  • May determine staffing requirements and administer staff work schedules. (2)
Measurement and Calculation Math
  • May adjust settings on ferry ramps to raise or lower them to the appropriate height for the ferry. (1)
  • May measure speed and wind velocity when operating cable ferries. (1)
  • May take gauge readings, such as hydraulic pressure gauges on ramps, to ensure that the equipment is functioning normally. (1)
  • May convert the length of a boat from metres to feet and vice versa to charge the appropriate fee or to determine whether it will fit in a lock or on a ferry. (2)
Data Analysis Math
  • May count different kinds of vehicles using the ferry and calculate monthly averages by user group. (2)
Numerical Estimation
  • May estimate what size of vehicle or boat will best fit in the remaining space on a ferry or in a lock. (1)
  • May estimate vehicle weights to balance the ferry load. (2)
Oral communication Help - Oral communication
  • Shout instructions to boaters. (1)
  • Interact with co-workers by radio to co-ordinate the movement of vessels and vehicles and to confirm security. (1)
  • Interact with supervisors to receive direction and discuss work problems. (1)
  • Communicate with lock or ferry users to direct them to designated areas, to answer procedural questions and to enforce the safety rules. (1)
  • May communicate with ferry users to defuse their anger when the ferry is not available to the public, such as when it is scheduled to carry dangerous cargo. (2)
Thinking Help - Thinking Problem Solving
  • May face difficulties in docking the ferry due to high winds. They guide the ferry in, using the controls to compensate for the wind, and if unsuccessful may wait for conditions to improve. (1)
  • May deal with customers who violate rules, such as limitations on drinking alcohol. They interact with the customers to firmly enforce the regulations while maintaining good public relations. (2)
  • May deal with customers who are angry about line-ups or who have special requests for access due to medical emergencies. They discuss issues with customers to seek a mutually acceptable solution. (2)
  • May respond to accidents, such as boat or vehicle collisions. They co-ordinate emergency efforts, contacting emergency response services such as ambulances, ensuring that public safety is maintained and that delays are minimized. (3)
Decision Making
  • May decide when routine maintenance tasks, such as cleaning the washrooms, should be performed. (1)
  • May decide when and how to move the ferry ramp, considering factors such as the consequence of delays in the loading process. (2)
  • May decide how best to direct the operators of vehicles or vessels to ensure the most efficient use of space. (2)
  • May prioritize access to the ferry among emergency response professionals, such as police and doctors. (3)
Critical Thinking

Critical Thinking information was not collected for this profile.

Job Task Planning and Organizing

Lock and cable ferry operators and workers in related occupations perform repetitive tasks with some variation associated with customer demand and the types of vehicles or vessels being served. Their industry is highly regulated, requiring them to follow specific procedures in performing such tasks as loading and unloading ferries and directing the movement of vessels into locks. Their work plan is customer driven and may be subject to interruptions due to poor weather conditions. Some lock and cable ferry operators and workers in related occupations work in a team context, integrating their work plans with co-workers to jointly accomplish tasks and ensure public safety. Lockmasters may have comparatively more complex planning and organizing requirements as they are overseeing the lock operation and managing staff assignments. (3)

Significant Use of Memory
  • May remember the names and faces of regular users of their service.
  • May remember the number of commercial vehicles on the ferry and their respective cargo to decide how many more commercial vehicles to allow aboard.
  • Memorize changes to procedures and regulations to ensure that lock and ferry users are in conformance with them.
Finding Information
  • Refer to ferry or lock schedules to answer customers' questions about connections or hours of operation. (1)
  • Refer to manuals or speak with their supervisors to clarify a procedure or regulation. (2)
  • Speak with other marine officials to obtain information on weather patterns which will affect boaters and ferry users. (2)
Digital technology Help - Digital technology
  • Use computer-controlled equipment. For example, they may use computerized cash registers or hydraulic ramps. (1)
Additional information Help - Additional information Other Essential Skills:

Working with Others

Some lock and cable ferry operators and workers in related occupations, such as loading bridge operators, linesmen/women and canal operators, work in teams to maintain public safety and facilitate service efficiency. They rely on communication skills to co-ordinate their work with co-workers, often maintaining contact by radio or through the use of hand signals. Others, such as cable ferry operators and ferry terminal workers, work independently and liaise with supervisors and co-workers as necessary to exchange information.

Continuous Learning

Lock and cable ferry operators and workers in related occupations have a need for ongoing learning to maintain a current knowledge of regulations. They may participate in formal training programs relating to, for example, the transportation of dangerous goods (TDG), basic radio communication and first aid. They may also acquire new learning through independent reading.

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