This article originally published in Arabian Business on May 24, 2023.
Since the opening of its Dubai office in 2009, Pearson VUE has promoted accessible education and certification programs in the Middle East while helping regulatory authorities and governments save time and resources, delivering more than 10 million examinations on their behalf, according to Raed Rajeh, Pearson VUE’s Middle East and South Asia Business Development Director.
Over the years, Pearson VUE has evolved as a pioneer in the global computer-based testing industry through its unwavering commitment to innovation, security, and growth. The company delivers more than 19 million certification and licensure exams every year across multiple sectors, from academia and admissions to information technology and healthcare, making a direct and indelible impact on professions, organizations, and communities across the globe.
Pearson VUE has delivered more than 10 million examinations for its local and regional regulatory authorities and government clients since 2009, when the company opened its Dubai office. According to Raed Rajeh, Pearson VUE’s Business Development Director for the Middle East and South Asia, the region has a significant population of young people and a growing demand for accessible education and certification programs.
“Computer-based testing helps institutions expand their reach and offer programs online while enabling the students to learn and get certified at their own pace and from any location,” he says.
Global leader in high-stakes exams
Founded in 1994, Virtual University Enterprises was acquired by NCS and then eventually by Pearson in 2000 to become Pearson VUE. Today, the company boasts the world’s most comprehensive network of nearly 20,000 highly secure test centers, in addition to online testing across over 180 countries. Nearly 500 clients trust it to deliver their programs safely, making it the world’s most trusted provider of high-stakes exams.
Rajeh attributes the company’s sustained leadership in the assessment industry to its collaborative partnerships with wide-ranging clients, from leading technology firms to government and regulatory agencies. “Pearson VUE takes a very collaborative approach, and we customize how we work with our test sponsors based on their needs and goals. Large teams comprised of our test sponsors’ experts as well as those from Pearson VUE are involved in launching and maintaining an exam program,” he says, adding, “From our psychometrician services and developing exam content to verifying students’ and professionals’ knowledge and skills, Pearson VUE supports test owners, test-takers, test centers, and corporations through every stage of the certification journey.”
Growing regional presence
Pearson VUE has a growing presence in the Middle East region, thanks to its strong partnerships with various prestigious government and regulatory authorities, including the Education and Training Evaluation Commission (ETEC), the Department of Health – Abu Dhabi, the Dubai Roads & Transport Authority, and several others. The company recently entered into agreements with the Oman Medical Specialty Board (OMSB) and the Nuclear and Radiological Regulatory Commission (NRRC) in Saudi Arabia.
“Our focus has been to enable our clients to meet the local demand for certifications and assessments while allowing aspirants to take their exams from anywhere in the world,” explains Rajeh. He adds that Pearson VUE has made important strides in terms of meeting the specific language needs of the region, such as the constitution of an Arabic-speaking team and the launch of local-language-based solutions.
Setting new standards
Continuous innovation and superior standards are among the hallmarks of Pearson VUE. The company has consistently achieved and maintained internationally recognized accreditations. The teams responsible for exam development and security routinely attend and present at industry conferences, are published in industry journals and publications, and seek opportunities to learn from industries outside of assessment. This enables the company to introduce innovative testing methods and provide better consultancy services to test sponsors.
“In light of the pressure test-takers experience, we are constantly exploring ways to make our part of the testing process as stress-free as possible while ensuring that our test sponsors and stakeholders receive the rigor and security they expect,” says Rajeh.
In Rajeh’s opinion, high-stakes exams must conform to the highest quality and security standards. “We are committed to protecting our candidates and the test content. Our testing process involves the joint efforts of psychometricians, content development experts, technologists, and subject matter experts. Moreover, as we understand the importance of demonstrable skills in filling job positions, we work to enable more authentic, performance-based exams,” he explains.
Bolstering security and credibility
Pearson VUE employs an industry-leading multipronged approach to exam security involving the creative and vigilant application of traditional exam security measures such as forensics and psychometrics, in addition to cybersecurity best practices and investigative techniques used by law enforcement and intelligence agencies.
“Our security teams work on the principle of providing 360-degree protection to credentialing programs, meaning we practice vigilance before, during, and after the exam through proactive and reactive techniques. Proactively, we seek constantly to gather intelligence and evidence on organized groups that threaten exam security, and constantly research and learn about evolving technology and techniques related to exam misconduct,” Rajeh says.
Ideal testing and certification partner
In the Middle East, Pearson VUE is committed to improving testing and certification standards and promoting industry best practices. Rajeh points out that computer-based testing can help institutions and governments save time and money by reducing administrative burdens and freeing their resources for more productive endeavors.
“Today, driving theory tests, health and safety exams, financial services exams, and university admissions exams can all be computerized, allowing wider participation and instant evaluation. It is important that program owners in the region recognize the shift to computer-based examinations in line with the expectations of current and future generations whose daily lives revolve around technology,” Rajeh says.
Across the Middle East region, there is a renewed enthusiasm to create an empowered, futuristic workforce capable of driving long-term growth and progress. Key sectors like healthcare and education, as well as the regulatory authorities that steer the region’s ambitious goals, are in need of highly skilled workers. Pearson VUE’s expertise and excellence are perfectly suited to both public and private organizations seeking to overcome skill gaps and accelerate growth.