Q & A with Matthew Poyiadgi, Vice President EMEA at Pearson VUE
‘’Pearson VUE has been at the heart of the global assessments industry for 25 years. Alongside the eAA, we promote industry best practice, a high standard of test delivery and lead the debate around the positive contribution that technology makes to all forms of assessment.”
Q. What key trends around the evolution of computer-based testing are you seeing in the short term and medium term?
At the moment, we’re seeing a real shift in the global assessments industry around the way that people study for exams and pursue new certifications. Learners are increasingly ‘buying by the glass, not by the bottle’. If you think about the way that young people use their personal devices to stream short YouTube videos or purchase goods at the click of a button, they also want bitesize learning on the go.
In a world where people are ‘always on’ and more likely to embrace flexible working patterns, computer-based testing has to reflect those changes in consumer behaviour.
Candidates want greater choice and flexibility around the way they get certified in a new skill or even a new career, so our industry is responding with modular testing and micro-credentials, which appeal to people’s busy lifestyles today.
Technology is also really pushing the boundaries around what assessment is. To be at the cutting edge of computer-based testing, requires exploring (and investing) in new areas like AI (Artificial Intelligence) which can deliver quicker accuracy in exam scoring through the use of algorithms, or assess a person’s speech or samples of their writing.
Q. What are customers’ most pressing priorities around computer-based testing and how is Pearson VUE responding to these requirements?
Our customers cover a broad range of market sectors and they’re all competing for the best industry talent. It’s therefore essential, that they’re able to offer candidates a variety of testing options; whether that’s the candidate taking an exam at a test centre or enabling the applicant to take their exam in the comfort of their own home through online proctoring.
Availability of reliable testing options is key, as well as consistency. Customers need to have reassurance of the quality of the exam itself as well as fairness, by which I mean that the experience of the candidate taking the exam in one country is the same as another candidate thousands of miles away. And security – security is of course always front of mind when our customers are developing their exam programmes. They require both physical and technological security measures to protect their candidates’ data, to ensure the integrity of the exam itself, as well as to safeguard their own IP (intellectual property).
Q. Are you seeing greater demand for computer-based testing from any specific sectors/industries at the moment?
There’s been a general transition from pen-and-paper based exams to computerbased testing across pretty much every industry sector for a few years now, and this is only set to increase in terms of the volume, as well as the breadth of testing options.
With the huge number of young people entering the global workforce and with the current generation so accustomed to using technology in everything they do, as industries continue to be impacted by digital transformation, certified young professionals can help their employers to navigate the many complex business challenges they’re facing. Technology is driving rapid change across all market sectors and it’s non-technology companies such as those in the retail or aerospace sectors to cite just a couple of examples, which are increasingly emerging as the source of many new information technology roles. No employee, or employer can afford to ‘rest on one’s laurels’; employees need to embrace a continuous learning culture to ensure their skills stay relevant and employers need to make the right investments in effectively evaluating those skills to maintain a competitive edge in a crowded market-place.
Q. Where is the ‘push’/ the impetus coming from for moving away from pen and paper to a future of testing that increasingly uses technology?
I see this as two-fold – the push is coming from the next generation who have a different mindset around their attitudes to work and developing their own careers. They have different expectations to previous generations; they sometimes explore more than one career path, work more flexibly and have witnessed the rise of the ‘Gig Economy’ in recent years. Their expectations around how they want to be evaluated for a particular skill is all centred around flexibility and convenience – they demand computer-based testing whenever and wherever.
Equally, the pull-effect is coming from clients and industries around the world which don’t want to be left behind – where students no longer write 3-hour essays with a pencil in any environment. Assessments need to follow suit, since test owners want to be seen as up-to- date and leading their field, utilising the very latest tools in assessment technology.
Q. From where are you seeing the most demand for the increased use of computer-based testing? Is it coming from the candidate, test owners or even regulators?
There is a generational shift where markets demand change and people want to learn and to test in the same way they are living their lives – on the go, and online. We’re seeing a big shift at the moment to the ‘contingent workforce’ – where individuals are increasingly required to upgrade and update their skills based on the project or role they are undertaking at that time. Whereas test owners are responding to new regulations and working practices across a number of different industry sectors, which companies have to be compliant with. Testing programmes need to continually adapt to keep pace with regulatory changes or new policies that are unique to a particular industry, so there are a number of opportunities for our industry to offer new services to help businesses stay current.