Words: Nicole Needles
NCCER strives to support the construction industry by providing the best resources for craft training and workforce development. To continue to help the industry the best it can be, NCCER is ensuring they are well-equipped to do so. By highlighting specific areas of improvement and ideas for new development in 2021, the organization is setting itself up to serve the construction industry in innovative ways.
NCCER is a non-profit education foundation that serves as a workforce and career development system for the construction industry. This includes craft instructor training and certification through a train the trainer program, program accreditation, competency-based skill assessment, and development and maintenance of curricula with the help of construction industry subject matter experts. This curriculum covers 10 industry sectors and over 70 craft areas. The credentials and certifications given by the organization are industry-recognized and globally portable.
Boyd Worsham, president and CEO of NCCER, said, “In order to better serve and support our industry, as well as the career seekers you recruit and educate, NCCER’s Board of Trustees has made the decision to invest significantly in the future of NCCER’s people, projects and products.”
NCCER’s commitment to its employees and customer network is the catalyst for ambitious projects, including the refining of existing products and the creation of new ideas. So far in 2021, the organization has hit the ground running, with an aim to keep the momentum going.
Informative curricula, thorough courses, and accessible resources cannot come to fruition without people making it happen. That is why the organization is putting a focus on investing in people this year. Expanding the staff and bringing in fresh talent with the proper skill and background is the first step. Members of the team, new and seasoned, will work together to fine-tune areas such as product development and technology. To fulfill the changing needs of construction education, NCCER has created positions of chief learning officer and director of digital learning.
NCCER is not only bringing in assets from the outside but utilizing its resources within. Jennifer Wilkerson has been promoted to the position of Vice President – Innovation and Advancement. After 11 years with NCCER, this expansion of her role led to a new department that focuses on the innovation of products and services.
With these important positions recently filled, the release schedule of new and revised curricula will be quicker, and there will be enhanced creativity when it comes to learning systems.
Not only will the staff be growing, but the organization also hopes to strengthen existing partnerships. The newly formed strategic partnership department exists to enhance business relationships as well as form long-standing connections with various organizations. It will also be seeking partnerships with new organizations. Partners such as the Mason Contractors Association of America propel NCCER forward and make exciting opportunities possible.
A substantial project that the team is working on for 2021 is to transition to fully online testing by August 1, 2021. NCCER released the online testing system in 2017, giving them time to fully understand online testing capabilities and challenges, as well as be prepared for the transition to online testing. Increasing accuracy when it comes to scoring, test score data collection, improving testing integrity, and reducing the carbon footprint are only a few positive changes that online testing will bring. Eliminating paper testing will reveal more insightful information on how long testers are taking to complete the test, which questions students are consistently getting incorrect, and more.
NCCER is working with third-party reviewers to delve into the psychometrics of test-taking as well. Making the transition online also allows for a more secure and integrity-based testing environment. Without paper tests, it makes it more difficult for the tests to be posted online or copied and passed around. To make this transition as seamless as possible, NCCER is offering webinars for sponsor representatives, instructors and evaluators with testing system training.
Within the last year, the circumstances of the world resulted in an increased need for virtual learning and testing. NCCER began providing remote proctoring last year in an effort to offer an option for testing to continue through the pandemic. However, when it proved an asset rather than a temporary fix, the organization made plans to make this change lasting. The next step is to make the system simpler to use while maintaining the rigor of testing, so the permanent implementation of remote proctoring is possible.
As NCCER looks to leverage technology to optimize online services, craft professionals will have the opportunity to display their skills and accomplishments via digital badges that can be added to their social media, website or email signature. This new way to display their knowledge will speak volumes to employers, coworkers and clients about the professional’s skill and dedication to their craft.
Other virtual goals include launching a talent pipeline tool for the Build Your Future initiative to assist those new in the industry when it comes to education and career opportunities. Currently, BYF utilizes recruitment tools to bridge the gap between those who show interest in a construction career and the information and resources they need to make it happen. A continuation of this connection will not only strengthen relationships with training partners but will help new recruits transition into a successful pathway.
The near future holds a single sign-on feature for NCCER system access, the launch of a learning management system to deliver non-Pearson – NCCER’s publisher and distributor – materials and the implementation of digitally enhanced assessment technologies.
When it comes to product development, NCCER has a full workload for the next year. Among other projects, the team will be working on revising and updating 15 titles over the next two years. In addition, the Concrete Construction, Electrical, Core and Roofing titles are being translated to Spanish. The translation of educational resources is extremely important for accessibility and making sure that everyone has the opportunity to learn and develop their craft skills.
With the contribution of Florida Concrete Masonry Education Council to the development of digital learning materials, Masonry Level 1 has been added to NCCERconnect. The NCCERconnect eBook includes completely new videos, interactive animated figures and quizzes. These animations are paired with the respective concept which helps make more difficult material easier for students to learn. Students are not the only ones who can take advantage of this resource, instructors can also find the classroom management tools that they need to instruct their students efficiently and accurately. The course materials are pre-loaded and ready for student use, but it can still be customized and organized differently by instructors.
In addition, NCCER Core: Introduction to Basic Construction Skills 6th edition will be in stock in the spring of 2021. This revision will feature updates to the objectives and performance tasks as well as a brand-new introductory module, which will be invaluable to those students who haven’t pinpointed their particular passion in the construction industry yet: Build Your Future in Construction. This module will showcase the many rewarding careers in the construction industry.
Looking to the Future
NCCER is planning on positive changes and forward-thinking for the years to come, and 2021 is the beginning of it. While there is a tremendous agenda for the endeavors this year, the organization is focused on reaching these goals. From revising the curricula to taking testing online to launching multiple digital resources, the growth NCCER will see this year is expansive.