The construction industry has a fundamental part to play in supporting post-pandemic recovery and growth. And while construction was heavily impacted by the onset of the pandemic, the industry responded quickly and is recovering well. So much so that 91% of engineering and construction respondents in a recent US survey said the business outlook for the industry was either very or somewhat positive. That’s 23% higher than last year. However, there are challenges ahead and this includes significant workforce issues.
We urgently need to address the skills shortage in all areas of construction. PSI partners with multiple state licensing boards to develop and deliver licensure testing for construction. This can be for everything from general building to specific areas such as swimming pools or dry walling. Flexible multi-modal testing can assist the industry to upskill and reskill more people into much needed jobs for the benefit of the individual, the construction sector, and the wider community.
What is multi-modal testing?
Multi-modal testing may sound complicated, but it really isn’t. Put simply, it is the power of choice. With multi-modal, test takers have the option to take a secure test in their nearest PSI Test Center or remotely with PSI Online Proctoring.
With online proctoring, test takers can take a test at home or in their place of work. They are observed by an online proctor using the webcam and microphone on their device. However, if a test taker needs access to the necessary technology and is more comfortable with traditional testing methods, they can still opt for a test center. Either way, they have the option to schedule their test at a time and in the location that best suits them and their employer.
Reasons to change
During the pandemic, the construction industry needed to maintain continuity and carry-on scheduling tests. And it was this desire to give as many test takers as possible the opportunity to take a test despite the challenging circumstances that proved the driving force for some state licensing boards to transition to a multi-modal testing model.
The move to multi-modal was particularly appealing for larger states where test takers are often in remote areas and need to travel long distances to take a test in a test center. This is inconvenient and costly for them and can also increase test day anxiety. Giving these individuals the option to test at home removes significant barriers to getting a construction license. This makes pursuing a career in the construction industry more accessible and appealing.
Read our blog: A Guide to Going Multi-Modal with Testing
Tailored testing for construction
Every industry has specific needs and requirements, and one of the issues we needed to address with testing for construction was the use of reference materials during a test. When taking a test for a construction license, the use of handouts, books, and other resources is usually permitted. But while tests are “open book,” test takers aren’t allowed unlimited access to all reference materials during their test.
In a test center, an administrator will check materials for unauthorized handwritten notes or inserts. Of course, those who take their test remotely must be treated equally. With online proctoring this isn’t a problem. The online proctor is fully trained and briefed before a test to know what materials are and are not permitted. This is based on what the state licensing board has decided. Test takers must show their resources to the camera before a test and the proctor observes throughout to ensure they aren’t referring to anything that is unauthorized.
Test taker support and communication
Another potential challenge – but also a massive opportunity – for construction is one that can be overcome with good communication. Many construction professionals don’t need to use computers on the job so it’s understandable they might feel uncomfortable with the technology involved with online proctoring. We find those individuals often opt to take their test at a center.
However, we now have digital natives – often younger generations – joining the workforce. They have grown up with constant access to multiple electronic devices. They are familiar with technology and expect the convenience and flexibility that comes with it. Being able to take a test remotely appeals to these individuals, making construction careers more accessible to a wider and more diverse group of people.
Regardless of a test taker’s level of comfort with technology, you need to provide communication and support leading up to test day and on the day itself. A system compatibility check, for example, should be shared well in advance of test day along with guidelines about the ID they will need and optimum room set up for a remote test. Your test takers can then check their device is able to support online proctoring and come well prepared on test day. Our 24/7 test taker assistance is available should they have any questions.
Watch our on-demand webinar: Adapting A Multi-Modal Approach To Deliver State Licensure Exams
Proof of concept
We have helped several states transition to multi-modal testing and we are well versed in effective and smooth onboarding and implementation. While some test takers continue to opt to test in a test center, others are embracing the remote option. For example, in one state where test takers have the choice, 68% of test takers attended a test center and 32% chose to take the option of remote testing.
The switch to multi-modal won’t happen overnight. It takes time and effort, so now is the perfect time to start your journey towards test taker choice. It’s a forward thinking move that will help attract up and coming generations of construction professionals. Your licensure exams continue to protect workers and the public today, while safeguarding the future of the construction industry for tomorrow.
If you’re interested in finding out more about moving state licensure testing to multi-modal and would like a demonstration, please get in touch.
Cathy Laitinen, Manager of Client Services, is responsible for the ongoing day-to-day contact with her clients. Cathy also audits examination sites to ensure security and quality control, including interpreting licensing statutes and rules, and providing our clients with high-quality customer service. Prior to joining PSI, Cathy spent several years in customer service and quality assurance for a web-based company. She also has a strong background in help desk and training. Cathy consulted at Proctor & Gamble, building a Help Desk and training facility over a three-year period.
Melody Suchowicki, Director of Client Services, joined PSI in 2016. She is responsible for managing client services in our licensing market segment, where her responsibilities include client relationships, ensuring the quality of services, and new project implementation. Melody brings a wealth of knowledge and experience in project management, contract management, and people management to the table in her role at PSI. Melody oversees nearly all of PSI’s construction/contractor clients. Before joining PSI, Melody worked for Pearson VUE for over a decade, first as a Senior Content Development Editor and then as a Senior Program Manager, where she was responsible for the Nurse Aide and Cosmetology market segments.