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Finance Assessment Trends Transforming India’s Fortunes

DivyalokSharma, Director, Client Development, Pearson VUE

 

Computer-Based Testing (CBT) has been practised for almost two decades and has been adopted around the world across IT, education,medical and university admissions.

 

But the financial industry, both in India and around the world, had remained typically conservative when faced with the prospect of ditching the 2,000-year-old tradition of pen-and-paper exams.However, there has recently been a significant shift towards new methods to better meet the changing needs of candidates, employers and the industry.CBT allows this to happen.

 

Candidates can book tests on-demand or in test windows when they are more test-ready and at any of thousands of testing centres around the world, obviating the need for long-distance travel to a single location and maximising chances of test success. For test sponsors there is also an increasing need to be more agile with assessment to reflect the evolution of financial practice and standards and competencies which traditional testing methods are unable to support. Most recently, there has been a significant shift in expectations from employers for professional assessment to be more relevant to the tasks required for real-life jobs.CBT helps support this with innovative question-types such as drag-and-drop video simulation and even computer adaptive testing, where the questions change in difficulty depending on the performance of the candidate, alongside traditional multiple-choice, short-answer and essay-based questions.

As a result of increased awareness of such benefits, a series of major financial institutions have been moving their tests from pen-and-paper to CBT. In India this year, the International Qualifications Network (IQN), in Partnership with Pearson VUE, launched 11 computer-based exams for internal auditors, supply chain executives, accountants and project management analysts, with part of the exam range transitioning from pen-and-paper to CBT.

TheAmerican Academy of Financial Management (AAFM) India has also taken this step, entering into an agreement with Pearson VUEto provide test delivery for its Chartered WealthManager® and Chartered Trust and Estate Planner® certification exams globally.

 

Again, both of these exams have been transformed from pen-and-paper to CBT exams.

AAFM’s pen-and-paper tests were previously delivered on fixed dates but candidates can now schedule and sit their tests at their convenience at one of 300 test centres nationwide in India.

 

Deepak Jain, Country Head at AAFM India, said: “This agreement with Pearson VUE offers exam candidates far greater convenience and a standardised, highly secure testing environment both nationwide in India and across the globe.”

Aimed at professionals such as internal auditors, supply chain executives, accountants and project management analysts, part of the exam range is new while others have been transitioned from paper and pencil to computer-based testing.

In a further sign that CBT is the future for finance assessment, the Chartered Institute for Management Accountants (CIMA), another of our clients, transferred its entire global exam system over to CBT, with the updated syllabus launching in January 2015.

CIMA’s executive director Noel Tagoe says that the change is necessary to reflect the way business has changed as technology has advanced.

“All of our assessments will be computer based from January 2015,” he says. “By maximising the opportunities offered by technological advances in computerised assessment, we can access a wide range of testing methods, assess a variety of skills and competencies at different levels, and offer much greater flexibility in where and when examinations are taken. All of which will be of tremendous benefit to both students and, importantly, employers.”

CIMA, AAFM and QAI all offer certification exams, and there is evidence that these role-relevant qualification schemes could provide a potential solution to the apparent paradox in India of high joblessness on one hand and increasing difficulty in hiring trained, role-specific talent on the other.

A recent Labour Ministry Survey report found that one in three Indian graduates is unemployed despite an increase education levels. Meanwhile, nearly half of all Indian employers are having difficulty filling vacant jobs, according to research by ManpowerGroup.

Role-relevant assessment, qualifications and certification could be the answer.

Certification is a professional badge. It offers proof of ability and aptitude, and it needs to become much more commonplace in a highly competitive global economy. Certification achieved through assessment can identify the right candidates during higher education applications, specific skill sets in a given industry and individuals best suited for vacant posts.

The finance sector has apparently heeded the success story of IT certifications in India, which have long proved successful because they are designed not only to assess a specific set of role-relevant skills so employers can be confident in their level of competency, but also to provide a career pathway allowing a candidate to move from junior to high-skilled with validation at every step.

As the finance sector finally embraces the computer-based future of assessment, it is potentially alleviating the skills crisis in India, significantly improving India’s economic outlook and its standing in the world as a provider of educational excellence.

 

Divyalok Sharma is Director of Client Development at global computer-based testing leader Pearson VUE.

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