BreakingGround-AnnouncementRibbon By Amy King, Communications Manager for NCCER Over the next few weeks, Breaking Ground will feature blogs about NCCER's early beginnings as we celebrate 20 years of service to the construction industry. We hope you enjoy this trip down memory lane as much as we do! The framework of NCCER consists of programs for curricula, accreditation, assessments and credentials. Many of these programs have been a part of NCCER since the very beginning, helping to define NCCER’s mission of building a safe, productive and sustainable workforce of craft professionals. Curricula At the core of NCCER is a full line of training curricula. What started as five craft titles – Electrical, Pipefitting, Millwright, Welding and Instrumentation – has grown into more than 70 craft areas. NCCER began developing curricula in 1991 as part of its standardization process under ABC’s Construction Education Foundation. The standardization effort was to create one training program for the industry using subject matter experts and a competency-driven approach to curriculum development. When NCCER was established in 1996, 13 curricula were available through Pearson, NCCER’s publishing partner. Since then, NCCER has invested $78 million in maintaining, updating and expanding its line of curricula. 1991-CoreCurriculaOriginally titled Wheels of Learning and later known as the Contren Learning Series before simply being named NCCER Curriculum, NCCER’s standardized craft training curricula are developed by industry and revised regularly to align with changing industry standards. The curricula were originally based on training programs from some of the nation’s largest contractors, industry associations and manufacturers. Now, teams of subject matter experts meet regularly to review, update and develop the curricula. Twenty years ago, NCCER curricula consisted of black and white trainee manuals, many of which were sold in loose-leaf binders. Throughout the years, full-color and case-bound editions, Annotated Instructor's Guides with lesson plans, testing components and custom book build options have all been introduced. However, the most significant evolution in the past decade has been the advancement of technology. As true digital pioneers, NCCER and Pearson introduced the first interactive e-books and course management tools on the market for craft training in the construction industry. Today, their digital products enhance NCCER content delivery and provide an enriched, blended learning experience for students and faculty. Accreditation As an accrediting body for organizations to deliver training and credentials within the construction industry, NCCER helps ensure that consistent and quality training is delivered and that accredited organizations are meeting benchmarks for how they run their programs. To accomplish this, NCCER had to develop criteria, policies and procedures for organizations that wanted to deliver training. This process of accreditation legitimized the standardization of training on a much broader scale. Now, the entire process, from learning space requirements to equipment needs to instructor certification, is regulated and brought into conformance based on industry standards. This is also why curricula are developed in a standardized format and instructor certification has the same boilerplate approach. Assessments In the early ’90s, a John Gray Institute study revealed that many petrochemical companies and owners were unsure of the competence level of the contract employees entering their facilities. These findings drove industry to improve the competency of the workforce and owners to significantly elevate the focus on safety. In light of this, OSHA developed its Process Safety Management standard that, in part, required owners to verify the competence of the workforce coming into their facilities. As a result of the OSHA standard, many contractors and contractor associations, especially along the Gulf Coast, were developing their own assessments to verify the competence of their workforce to owners. This resulted in repeated testing of workers. Every time a worker went to a new contractor or a new facility, he or she had to be tested. There was no consistency or standardization among the assessments and no national assessment that owners could look to and verify the competency of a contractor’s workforce. In 1998, a group of 10 contractors asked NCCER to develop nationally standardized, journey-level assessments to test their workforce, determine competence, offer credentials and provide remediation materials to upgrade skill levels. As a result, NCCER created its National Craft Assessment and Certification Program (NCACP) to provide standardized assessments for journey-level workers. To begin the development of the NCACP, several contractors including Fluor, Zachry and Brown & Root, along with the Industrial Skills Assessment Council run by ABC chapters along the Gulf Coast, donated their tests. The NCACP consists of both written assessments and Performance Verifications. A lot has changed since the NCACP was first released in 2000, specifically with technology. In 2000, all assessments were paper-based. Now, 80 to 90 percent of the assessments given are computer-based. Back then, standard practice in the testing industry for turning around assessment results was one to two weeks. When fax technology was introduced, NCCER was able to turn around results within 30 minutes to an hour. With computer-based testing, results are now available immediately after submission. To date, 700,000 written assessments have been provided or given through the NCACP. This includes entry- and journey-level written assessments developed by NCCER and its testing partner Prov. The NCACP continues to be an efficient and effective process to verify an individual’s knowledge and skills in accordance with job duties and industry standards. It also provides credentials to craft professionals who may not have had the opportunity to receive formalized training but want to have their knowledge and skills recognized. So far, 47 percent of the craft professionals who have taken NCCER’s assessments have successfully met journey-level industry standards. The other 53 percent validate the skills gap that exists within the construction industry. When individuals receive training prescriptions through the NCACP, they have the opportunity to elevate the safety, skills and productivity levels of the industry’s workforce and narrow the skills gap. Original NCCER wallet card close upCredentials Twenty years ago, credentialing in the construction industry was in its infancy, and awareness was low among owners, contractors and craft professionals. When NCCER first began tracking training completions and issuing credentials in 1993, only 60,000 training modules had been completed. Today, NCCER’s industry-recognized and portable credentials are highly sought after, with more than 13 million module completions logged in the NCCER Registry System to date. The NCCER Registry System is an online database that tracks both training and assessments for easy verification and provides transcripts, credentials and wallet cards. Credentials are awarded to individuals who successfully complete training levels, written assessments and/or Performance Verifications. Candidates who pass both a written assessment and Performance Verification become Certified Plus, which is the highest NCCER credential available. When the Certified Plus credential first came out in the early 2000s, less than 800 individuals had achieved it. Today, there are 50,000 Certified Plus craft professionals in the industry.   Cover1605For the rest of the story, read the full article in NCCER’s Cornerstone magazine.

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About NCCER

NCCER develops standardized construction and maintenance curricula and assessments with portable credentials. These credentials are tracked through NCCER’s National Registry which allows organizations and companies to track the qualifications of their craft professionals and/or check the qualifications of possible new hires. The National Registry also assists craft professionals by maintaining their records in a secure database.