Aspeq news

Aspeq helps NZ’s Plumbers, Gasfitters and Drainlayers Board unlock efficiencies through exam digitisation

May 30, 2024

In Aotearoa New Zealand, plumbing, gasfitting and drainlaying is restricted work that can only be carried out by registered and licensed tradespeople. The Plumbers, Gasfitters and Drainlayers Board (the Board) is the regulatory body for these trades, setting the standards for registration and ensuring registered people have the right qualifications and competency to carry out this work. 

Since 2018, Aspeq has been supporting the Board to deliver high quality registration examinations. A recent move to digitising the Board’s certifying exams has led to major improvements in efficiency that means candidates can take exams more frequently, and receive their results much faster. 

 

The need to digitise 

Certification is an important step in a tradesperson’s career, representing more responsibility and higher salaries. Certifying practitioners are the only practitioners who do not require supervision to carry out work. Certifying practitioners can also certify (for gasfitting) or verify (for sanitary plumbing and drainlaying) work for official purposes (eg building consent processes).

Before digitisation, the certifying exam was delivered twice yearly through a paper-based system. Candidates who were unable to sit the exam at the allocated date and location, or didn’t achieve a passing grade, would need to wait six months to re-sit the exam. Each version of the exam was unique, meaning subject matter experts (SMEs) would be hired to design a brand new set of questions from scratch - an expensive and time consuming process. Once candidates sat their exam, they could wait up to three months to find out if they received a passing grade. 

It was obvious that the long and expensive process could benefit from digitisation and, in 2023, Aspeq worked with the Board to deliver a bespoke solution that addressed the unique challenges of digitising the certifying exam. 

 

The Aspeq advantage 

As specialists in exam design and delivery, Aspeq works with clients to understand their unique pain-points and design bespoke solutions to overcome them.

In the Board’s case, the unique challenge involved digitising complex questions that tested candidates’ approach to problem solving and solution design. To address this, Aspeq introduced new short-answer questions that are administered digitally but answered on paper, ensuring candidates have the opportunity to show their work fully without needing to learn a new software solution to do so. 

Aspeq managed the creation of an online question bank containing hundreds of carefully constructed questions developed by qualified SMEs. The questions are designed to be reused, eliminating the need to create a new version of the exam for every sitting. The question bank is regularly reviewed and refreshed, and each question’s performance is closely monitored by Aspeq’s in-house team of specialists. 

Aspeq also gives candidates the flexibility to sit the exam almost every day of the week, rather than twice yearly, at one of its more than 20 secure examination centres across the country. Candidates simply choose the time and location which best suits them through Aspeq’s simple and intuitive online booking portal. 

Because the exams are delivered electronically, most of the marking is done automatically, meaning candidates receive their results within 10 working days rather than three months of their sitting date. If needed, second attempts can be sat as early as the next available exam date.

 

Digital exams are right for all industries 

In any industry, relying solely on paper-based exams is outdated and introduces unnecessary expenses, environmental impacts, time constraints, and administrative complexities to the evaluation procedure. When paper-based responses are the preferred and sole option, integrating a hybrid solution is the answer.

Moving to an online system can be daunting, especially for busy regulators who don’t have a dedicated team to manage the complex transition process. This is where Aspeq’s globally-respected team of dedicated examination specialists can help. Aspeq works with clients to develop unique solutions that work for the unique challenges of their industry. Aspeq is a true expert in all aspects of assessment delivery, from registration to results, and in its 30 years in business has supported dozens of clients to shift from paper-based to hybrid and fully electronic examination systems. 

For the Board, working with Aspeq to shift to a hybrid exam delivery model has led to improvements in flexibility for candidates in terms of when and where they can sit exams, and how quickly they can become registered and certified. The creation of a reusable online question bank managed by Aspeq also eliminated the need for the Board to reinvest in a brand new set of questions for each sitting, saving on time and cost of exam delivery and marking.  

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