Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Getting in on the act

One interesting measure of the uptake of a new practice is to measure the amount of news released on the newswires on any particular subject. Unless there is some statistical "blip" it looks like the number of organizations actually formalizing their personnel certification programs is on the rise.

I have about 25 RSS feeds covering blogs and the newswires, and something new usually pops up about once per month. Interestingly there have been 3 in the last 2 weeks - the beginning of a trend?

So in the recent news we have:

The North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (
NABCEP) - newslink

The American Indoor Air Quality Council (IAC) - newslink

and most interestingly

The National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators (NCCCO) - newslink

all obtaining their ISO17024 certifications.

I will keep a track of who is doing what. The ANSI website only tells me after the fact (usually long after!) so if anybody would like to keep me up to date with new accreditations or organizations (any sector) that are planning on moving in this direction I will keep an up-to-date register as a reference tool and keep it published on this blog.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Ensuring Insurance Competency!

The Chartered Insurance Institute (CII) is pursuing ISO 17024 in order to accredit their financial planning professionals to ISO 22222 (quality standard for personal financial planners).

Melanie Blackmore, director of Standards International, said:

"ISO 22222 could possibly be the top professional standard, it will be for higher end financial planners not general advisers."

The Institute of Financial Planning chief executive Nick Cann said it was also looking into becoming ISO 17024 accredited but would consult with members about the extra costs.

"I don’t think that professional bodies will have any more power over advisers if they can accredit them but I do think that it would bring consistency to the market and neutralise the debate about qualifications"

For the full article from Citywire go

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Department of Defense boost for ISO 17024

It looks like the Department of Defense (DoD) is really pushing its personnel to obtain information assurance (IA) certifications through organizations that are ISO 17024 registered. The DoD Directive 8570.1, (all IA personel with privileged access to a DoD system, regardless of job series or occupational specialty, to obtain a commercial certification credential) will require an additional 30 percent of an estimated 100,000 DoD IA workers obtain a commercial certification in 2008.

DoD certification efforts under 8570 began in 2007, with an initial 10 percent of the DoD IA workforce obtaining professional credentials, and will continue through 2010.

Link to the newsfeed for the full article here.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Computer based testing internationally recognized

A new standard has been released by ISO which outlines the code of practice for IT based computer testing. ISO/IEC 23988:2007, derived from British Standard BS 7988 was released in January 2007 provides a means to (quote from ISO):

  • show that the delivery and scoring of the assessment are fair and do not disadvantage some groups of candidates, for example those who are not IT literate;
  • show that a summative assessment has been conducted under secure conditions and is the authentic work of the candidate;
  • show that the validity of the assessment is not compromised by IT delivery;
  • provide evidence of the security of the assessment, which can be presented to regulatory and funding organizations (including regulatory bodies in education and training, in industry or in financial services);
  • establish a consistent approach to the regulations for delivery, which should be of benefit to assessment centres who deal with more than one assessment distributer;
  • give an assurance of quality to purchasers of "off-the-shelf" assessment software.
Mickie S Rops in her Association Knowledge and Credentialing Blog encourages

All associations considering or offering computer- or internet-based testing (and all associated service providers/vendors) would benefit from a review of this informative standard which, by the way, applies to both low and high-stakes assessments."

Interestingly one of the key assessment methods - assessment through simulations is excluded in the standard.
Go here for more information from ISO

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Disparity between market requirements and ISO17024

Simon Feary the Director of IRCA is interviewed for IRCA inform on the impact that ISO17024 will have for auditing certification. He highlights the potential discrepancies between what the market is used to and their expectations and what some ISO17024 approaches are looking to deliver, especially the examination only option for certification. So it looks like IRCA will be holding a "business as normal" approach.

Talks with UKAS seem to be moving forward and it will be interesting how IRCA looks to implement a competency based model whilst balancing market needs and their tried and tested approach to certification.

The IRCA interview (Korea edition)

In the first of a new series in which INform talks to IRCA director, Simon Feary, about the very latest issues in auditing and certification, we find out about ISO 17024

What effects do you think ISO 17024, the new personnel accreditation standard, will have on IRCA and on auditor certification in general?

There has been a great deal of comment about this standard from those involved in auditor certification. Much discussion focuses on the necessity of a 'radical' change in the way we, the auditor certification bodies, operate. However, I'm not sure the word radical should be associated with this standard... more

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Standards Council Canada stops certification

Standards Council Canada announced in January that it will stop certifying management systems training providers. Interestingly the existing certificates will no longer be recognized.

Where does this leave the companies that have existing certifications and will they be reimbursed their certification fees? Will these companies will flip to RABQSA certification? What happens in the meantime?

Presumably this happened due to the low number of SCC certified training providers. This now means that there is no Canadian accreditation program for management system training providers. With the National Quality Institute (NQI) and RABQSA parting ways in 2006 the only option Canadian companies have left is to so south of the border or into Europe.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 2007-01-17 (full article copied - link here)

The Standards Council of Canada (SCC) announced the discontinuation of its accreditation program for management systems auditor training course providers. Effective immediately, certificates issued under the program will no longer be recognized.

For additional information contact Stephen Cross, Manager, Certification Body Accreditation at scross@scc.ca.

The Standards Council of Canada is a Crown corporation with the mandate to promote efficient and effective standardization in Canada. It facilitates the development and use of national and international standards and offers accreditation services with the goal of enhancing Canada’s economic competitiveness and social well-being. For more information, visit http://www.scc-ccn.ca/ or email info@scc.ca.

Monday, June 18, 2007

ANSI to improve quality of US workforce

Hot off the press, ANSI has just announced its intent to launch an accreditation program for the organizations that issue demand-based education and training certificates to U.S. workers.

One interesting point brought up in the article is the exponentially growing number of certificates that can be obtained over the internet with absolutely no requirement for training is growing rapidly.

Will this be the beginning of a national registered database of "legitimate" certifications and educational providers?

New ANSI Accreditation Program to Improve Quality of U.S. Workforce
American National Standards Institute

In response to calls from government and industry for a national system to better protect the public from under-qualified or unqualified workers, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) has announced its intent to launch an accreditation program for the organizations that issue demand-based education and training certificates to U.S. workers.

Certificates indicate that an individual has attended a course, passed a test or reached a specific standard of knowledge; they are typically issued by community colleges and universities, employers, independent for- profit education programs, and professional and trade associations.

A recognized leader in the accreditation of third party programs, ANSI will partner with educators, industry and government experts to develop the standards of quality and procedural requirements upon which the new accreditation program will be based...

Multiple choice testing a fraud?

Al Feldzamen sparks a whole bunch of controversy with a post on his "unexpected truths" blog, the "fallacy of hard tests".

The premise is that the harder the MC test the unfairer it is. Even with a couple of mistakes in the math, the post was controversial enough to raise a whole lot of debate around the effectiveness of MC testing.

From my perspective maybe we should be asking the question "is MC testing the way to go full stop?" With its emphasis only on knowledge, and with known issues around MC testing methodologies (a lot of which are highlighted in the blog post comments) is this approach good enough for the support of personnel certification programs?

I personally have recruited a few "certified" professionals (certification to remain nameless) over the last few years. To be honest they didn't know which way was up. They might have had the body of knowledge but it's application in the workplace was poor to non-existent. A complete waste of my time, $$ and the reputation of the professional organization down more than a few notches.

But what are the alternatives? Existing skills and competency based testing is expensive and inconsistent. What other tools and techniques are people looking to for the examination and testing of their employees and professionals?

Unexpected Truths: The fallacy of hard tests

... (continued from beginning of blog post)

“Was it all multiple choice?” I asked. “And how did they grade it?” I was thinking of my own exams. “Did they count only the right answers.?”When he said Yes to all the questions questions, I did not have the heart to tell him what I knew as a mathematical certainty—that the exam was, like most graduate medical exams, and large parts of legal licensing bar exams in most states , virtually a complete fraud.

The reason these tests are fraudulent—and the harder they are, the more they are fraudulent—is that for an extremely difficult test graded in that way, guessing tends to count much more than knowledge... more

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Oil and Gas Industry - appreciating certification

Suzy Jamieson has hit the nail on the head with this well thought out article on the benefits of certification in the oil and gas industry. I specifically like the emphasis on the values of certification to the different parties, e.g. the employee, the employer etc.

Realizing the Benefits of Certification

Suzy Jamieson
By now, certification is common across a broad range of professions. Quality certification programs provide standards and guidelines for professional recognition. While certification is not a license to practice in our industry as is the case with health professionals, accountants and others, it does provide a multitude of benefits... more

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Increase in certifications, decrease in testing professionals

A great article from the NY times (albeit published in 2006) on the increasing demand that industry is placing on certification and the relative decrease in experts that are able to deliver certification programs (in this article specifically psychometric professionals).

Will this drive the certification industry to hire more professionals or to look for alternative methods for effective competency based assessment and certification?

As Test-Taking Grows, Test-Makers Grow Rarer

By DAVID M. HERSZENHORN (New York Times, (http://www.nytimes.com/)

Sz-Shyan Wu is not a Cuban baseball star or a dissident musician. But in urging the United States government to
grant him a work visa, the New York State Education Department is arguing that Mr. Wu, too, has talents so rare
that bureaucracy must be cut and a red carpet rolled out.
Mr. Wu is a psychometrician or, in plain English, an expert on testing. And testing experts are in high demand... more

Friday, June 1, 2007

Raising the Quality of Certifying Organizations

A fantastic article by Mickie S Rops from his blog Association Knowledge and Credentialing on the impact that ISO 17024 could have on the certification industry if widely adopted by certifying organizations.

Raising the Quality of Certifying Organizations

I just concluded a week-long training to become qualified as an assessor for ANSI's Personnel Certification Accreditation under the ISO/IEC 17024:2003 general requirements
for bodies operating certification of persons. How easily that phrase just came without having to reflect upon it is some indication of how thorough and intensive the training (and of course a concluding assessment) was!

For those not familiar with the program, let me summarize by saying that 17024 is an internationally-adopted (through ISO) and American-adopted (through ANSI/ASTM) voluntary standard for organizations operating programs that certify individuals (not products or organizations).

Let me just say that if all certifying agencies sought to achieve the requirements set out in 17024 the certifying industry would be a lot stronger for it... for more click here

Easy reference for ISO 17024

Hopefully this will be the first of a few helpful posts around the subject of ISO17024 (General Requirements for Bodies operating Certification of Persons).

What it ISO17024?

Released in 2003, ISO 17024 is designed to harmonize the personnel certification process worldwide. There is still much debate as to the effectiveness of the standard to date, especially with the variability in how it is applied by Accreditation Bodies globally.

The issues that ISO 17024 tackles can be simply summarized:
- Defining what it is you are examine (the competencies)
- Knowledge, skills and personal attributes
- Examination must be independent
- Examination must be a valid test of competence

Where competency is typically described as:
”The demonstrated ability to apply knowledge, skills and attributes”


Each Accreditation body provides various levels of guidance around compliance and the implementation of ISO 17024. I have attempted to bring together the more in-depth references below:

American National Standards Institute (ANSI)
Overview of Personnel Certification
Documents related to accreditation under ISO 17024
ISO 17024 FAQ
Directory of Accredited Bodies

Standards Council Canada (SCC)
Overview of Personnel Certification
Criteria and Procedures
Directory of Accredited Clients

Joint Accreditation System of Australia and New Zealand (JAZ-ANZ)
Personnel Certification Homepage

United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS)
Certification Body Schedules

International Accreditation Forum (IAF)
ISO 17024 Guidance

International Organization for Standardization (ISO)
Link to ISO 17024

Thursday, May 31, 2007

The changing meaning of skill

An old but interesting article on the changing definitions of skill. A bias towards educational establishments but a great overview on the impact to the UK policy and economy.

The changing meaning of skill and its implications for UK vocational education and training policy
Author: Jonathan Payne

During the 1980s and 1990s, UK policy-makers have stressed that economic competitiveness and national prosperity depend on a highly skilled workforce. At the same time, the meaning of "skill" is now considerably broader than it used to be and embraces a range of desirable behaviours, attitudes and personal characteristics. This feature looks at some of the implications this is likely to have for vocational education and training policy...

More at European Industrial Relations On-line

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Competency in training

Having been looking through the discussion board there are some really interesting posts on competency in training. These are specific to management systems auditing but will expand the list to cover off other areas in that big wide corporate world.

Definitions of competence
Competence, awareness and training

Thoughts on skills based assessment for personnel certification
Skills and competency certification

About regulation of organizations that employ certified professional
Should certification bodies be running like a business?

All found
at IRCA online forums

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Welcome to Personnel Certification and Training

So as the very first post on this blog I simply want to compile an up-to-date list of the organizations, papers and feeds that have been making a big impact in the world of personnel certification. This first post is starting off small but the information will grow over time.

As we all know significant debate is happening around the focus on skills and competency based certification. The purpose of this blog is simply to have a central point where information is gathered for convenience. I'll leave the cut and thrust debate (well maybe we can have some) to the discussion boards such as the excellent one IRCA provides (http://forum.irca.org/).

So here we go:

On-line personnel certification e-zines:
IRCA Inform
RABQSA e-momentum

Personnel Certification Organizations:

Accreditation Organizations:
International Accreditation Forum
ANSI (Personnel Certification)
Standards Council Canada (SCC)
www.jaz-anz.com.au, website seems to be down at the moment)

Generic sites:
Conformity Assessment
Canadian Council of Personnel Certification

The above is a tiny snapshot of the organizations and references out there. My mission over the next while will be to create an up-to-date reference of not just these organizations, but also papers and feeds as appropriate.

If anybody would like any specific kind of information reported on a (fairly) frequent basis then just post a comment on this blog or pop me off a quick mail.

Stephen Davies