With shelf life of skills rapidly shrinking to less than 3 years and technology changing at breakneck speed, certifications are one of the most effective means to train talent in new upcoming technologies, tools and softwares, in bulk.
What Organizations want?
Organizations want talent trained to work on the latest and most relevant tools and technologies to ensure that they deliver high performance in their respective job roles.
What Students/Employees want?
Job seekers always want to keep their skill-sets updated so that they can find employment easily anytime.
How do Certifications fit in?
Studies indicate a general decline in the number of students enrolling in traditional 3-4-year college degrees and a spurt in the number of individuals (nonworking/ working) opting for certifications. This is because certifications require less time and cost investment and are more relevant at workplace as they are very job specific. A ‘data science’ certification will teach an individual exactly how to extract meaning out of big-data, analyze data to provide more value to customers and, make data models that can shape company’s product and service offerings in the future. Certifications are very job role specific. Getting a certification is very close to getting a real job experience in that field.
Certifications helps increase the employability of professionals and always lead to lucrative pay raises.
“In general, when you earn a certificate, you can expect anywhere from a 13 to 25% boost in your annual salary.”- Forbes
According to Brian Bosworth, president of FutureWorks, a consulting and public policy research firm in Seattle, Washington - “The United States faces a decline in the educational attainment of the labor force that threatens to reduce economic growth and limit national and personal prosperity. For many individuals, the most practical route toward this goal will be obtaining not an academic degree but a certificate that signifies completion of a rigorous, occupationally focused program of study.”
According to the Institute for College Access and Success, the number of people who hold post-baccalaureate certificates has increased by more than 50% since 2005 — and the numbers continue to grow.
For Organizations seeking skilled talent, certifications are a blessing. Certifications provide companies with talent that is skilled in the latest tools and technologies that are needed to excel in their job now and in the future. Certifications also ensure that the talent’s skill sets keep getting updated as the job role evolves by ensuring their regular upskilling.
Types of certification
- Internal certification: Certification provided by the company an individual works in. Usually not acceptable outside that organization. Part of Employee Learning and Development and Leadership Development initiatives.
- External Certification: Certification provided by a certification body/ vendor. Is valid for use in a certain industry or in a certain profession; Needs to be audited to establish certification credibility
- Software certification: Individuals are certified on a version of software or hardware. E.g. SAAS Certification, Oracle certification, Microsoft certification
- Industry Certification: Awarded by industry bodies such as ‘International Maritime Organization’, which is usable anywhere in the world where these standards are followed
- Educational Certification: awarded by universities and third-party vendors: Awarded as per profession- Accounting, Nursing, Food safety
Whether it’s Internal certification or external, creating a certification program is an arduous process that is time and cost intensive. Here are the top tasks related to creating a certification program:
- Up to date Exam content
- Robust Online Platform to host large number of tests simultaneously
- Audit to get ISO certification to add credibility
- Portal to register for certification and schedule test time and date
- Payment gateway for candidates
- Proctoring to uphold exam integrity by preventing cheating
- Automated test evaluation and result declaration
- Providing authentic white-labeled certificate
What parts you can outsource and what you can’t
Course Content and Exam Content: This part is best done by the organization or body conducting the certification. This is because they are more acquainted with the course content on which the certification test is based and hence are better judge of the type of questions, number of questions, method of assessment, weightages, competencies, sections etc. to include in the certification test.
Exam Platform: The certification platform on which the test is to be hosted, can be outsourced to a third-party vendor who can provide the following features:
1.Easy Test Creation Process
Test creations includes ability to upload different types of content, create different sections of questions, assign time limits, cutoff scores for each section and redirect the test taker to the next section or test based on their performance in the past sections/tests.
The platform should support:
- Variety of Question Type: The vendor providing the certification platform should allow it to host different type of questions: MCQ’s, software simulators, case study simulators, audio/video-based questions etc.
- Custom Grading Logic: The platform should support creation of different sections in a test and assign marks/weightages to individual questions/ sections.
- Section-Based Workflows: Certification exams usually consist of multiple levels of tests to indicate the level of proficiency that the candidate possesses. There can be beginner, intermediate or advanced level certificates granted to a test taker depending on what level of certification test the test taker has passed. In such cases, the test taker needs to be allowed to take multiple tests. If the test taker wants to get an advanced level certificate for let’s say a tool/software, he/she will have to clear beginner level certification test and intermediate level certification test. Only then will the test taker be even eligible to take the ‘advanced level’ certification test. In such cases, the platform on which the certification test is being hosted needs to redirect the candidate to higher test levels or different sections depending upon what type/ level of certification they have registered for. In simple words, the certification platform should allow creation of workflows.
2) Efficient Scheduling
Scheduling a certification test is considered one of the most cumbersome tasks. In traditional offline certification programs, the test takers have to travel to the test venue and the test organizers have to book multiple test venues, get invigilators, provide test material- all of which cost a lot of time and money. It is also very chaotic and makes the whole process of conducting and giving a certification test very inefficient.
A good online certification platform provider should provide you with easy test scheduling process where the candidate has the option to choose from multiple test slots and the test organizer is empowered with tools that allow them to manage large candidate database, send and manage test invites, assign slots and deliver the test in bulk as well as individually in a systematic and simple manner.
The certification platform should have features to prevent imposters from giving the test or to prevent any kind of foul play. Features such as IP Restriction to ensure that the test can be accessed from one specific IP address; Browsing Tolerance to ensure candidates do not browse away from the test and Pre-Test ID Authentication can reduce the instances of unfair conduct by test takers significantly.
3) Hassle Free Test Delivery
Once the test is created and scheduled, it needs to be delivered to the candidates interested in getting the certification in the most effective and hassle-free manner. That means that the candidate should be able to launch the certification platform from any browser without having to download any additional apps. The platform should allow the candidate to register, pay and give the test on a single platform. The certification platform vendor should also allow white-labeling of the certification to allow you to build and leverage your own brand name.
Here’s how a great certification platform makes the journey of the candidate easy and seamless:
- Candidate registration: Candidate shows interest in taking your certification test and submits details either directly on your webpage itself or is redirected to the certification platform to submit details and register.
- Payment: The candidate upon registration is asked to pay for the test and enter any applicable discount coupon code if available.
Test integrity is as important as test credibility and without these two key components, it’s not possible to build a strong brand name for your certification test that is trusted by the industry. Remote Proctoring is the most efficient method of ensuring high test integrity in case of online certification tests. You can opt for different types of remote proctoring services depending on the level of integrity, the number of candidates, the type of questions, the cost you are ready to incur and the speed at which you want exam results delivered.
These are the most commonly preferred remote proctoring methods that are used by certification bodies:
- Live Proctoring: Live proctoring by itself refers to a method of proctoring where a human proctor observes the test taker from the start of the test till the end and gives warnings whenever he/she detects any suspicious behavior that can be construed as cheating. Use of live proctoring is preferable if:
- Budget for proctoring is high
- You want immediate result delivery as soon as the test ends
- The number of candidates giving the test is small
- The exam is a very high stake one
- Auto Proctoring: Auto proctoring is a software that is activated just before the test taker starts the test. The software is integrated with the certification platform. It assesses the test taker’s behavior and flags it if it detects suspicious behavior such as looking away from screen, hiding face, mobile phone, additional person etc. Advanced remote proctoring softwares can also detect if the test taker tries to mirror the test screen on to another monitor, tries to run any additional software in the background or tries to access any app or website during the exam. One the test starts; the candidate cannot venture outside the test environment. Use of auto proctoring is preferable if:
- Budget for proctoring is low
- You want immediate result delivery as soon as the test ends
- The number of candidates giving the test is large
- The exam is a medium stake one
- Record and Review Proctoring: Record and review proctoring uses auto proctoring to review test taker behavior during the exam. The whole exam session is recorded, and the complete audio/ video file of each candidate test session is reviewed by a human proctor post the test completion. Use of record and review proctoring is preferable if:
- Budget for proctoring is not very high
- You do not need to declare results immediately post test
- The number of candidates giving the test is not too big
- The exam is a medium stake one
- Additional methods: There are additional features that can be used along with these proctoring methods to increase test integrity:
- ID Authentication: To authenticate the ID of the test taker, ID authentication precedes the test. Before the candidate can begin the test, their identity is authenticated via bio-metric, submission of ID, face recognition, background information check etc.
- Secure browser: A secure browser is a software that is launched just before the test starts. It prevents the test taker from accessing anything apart from the test on the device on which the test is being attempted. By using secure browser, you can prevent candidates from looking for test answers online or accessing any apps, softwares or any resources that are on the device on which the test is being given. It also prevents screen mirroring.
5) Test Evaluation
Once the certification test has been attempted, it needs to be evaluated on individual level and group level (if required). Online certification tests evaluation is automated and test results are made available immediately post-test. Online certification programs make it possible to access group insights to assess if the cut-off scores or question difficulty level is optimal.
6) Provide Authentic White-labelled Certification
Once the test evaluation is done, the certificate should be immediately made available to the candidate. Its always better to white-label the certificate that you are providing to create a brand name. Also the certificate authenticity should be easily verifiable. By providing unique QR code in each certificate, the authenticity of a certificate can be easily checked online.
Key USP’s of using an online certification platform for creating a certification program
An online certification program is much easier to create, execute and manage. It also improves the candidate experience immensely. Here we have listed the top USP’s of online certification which makes it a much better method of creating a certification program as compared to offline.
Topics: Online Certification Platform