TNCC Skills Certification Center Sees 44 Percent Increase in Demand


Published: December 2, 2010

When an individual wants to become a Foreign Service Officer, a mechanic wants national certification to advance in the company or a job-seeker wants to demonstrate skill to obtain a job with the Transportation Security Agency (TSA), they often seek out the Thomas Nelson Community College Skills Certification Center.

Located in the Peninsula Workforce Development Center (PWDC), the Skills Certification Center is growing and changing to meet the needs of businesses, government agencies, and the community. Last year over 1,130 certification exams were administered, an increase in 44 percent from the previous year.

James Allison, Skills Certification Center testing administrator,  says the increase is a direct result of a strategic plan to maximize seats by preparing for high volume vendor requests that fluctuate with job market changes. The number of exams administered per day ranges from 3 to 18, depending on the job market, test vendor cycle, or needs for certification. “A few weeks ago, we held one of three annual cycles for the Foreign Service Officer Test. Since it runs in only three cycles per year, the demand for seats is extremely high, and I was at capacity all week, says Allison.

The increase in demand is an indication that the Center is meeting its mission. It is one of only two testing centers in the Commonwealth of Virginia for ACT, and serves examinees from a large geographical region, including Maryland and North Carolina. Since the second ACT center is in Northern Virginia, the role that TNCC plays in regional high-stakes testing cannot be understated.

The Center serves three vendors:

  • ACT focuses on certifications in civilian career fields such as social work, automotive technology, foreign service officers and pharmacy, to name a few. Visit  www.act.org to learn more.
  • PAN focuses on government-related certifications such as the Transportation Security Agency (TSA) and the U.S. Postal Service (USPS).  More information is available at www.pantesting.com .
  • Pearson Vue focuses on the field of Information Technology (IT). Visit www.pearsonvue.com, to for more details.

The most popular test depends on the “hot” job openings. Recently, the Transportation Security Administration’s push to hire baggage screeners and other positions lead to a surge in demand at the Center. Several exams were given at the TNCC Skills Certification Center for airports in  Norfolk, Newport News and Richmond. The vacancies were filled quickly, and requests for these specific tests decreased. “There are tests that are in constant demand,” says Allison. Examples include the Association of Social Work Boards and the Comira (Pharmaceutical Certification). “Then there are those that are requested on a minimal basis, but are just as important from a career certification standpoint,” adds Allison.

“ We strive to administer standardized, high-stakes examinations that lead to the attainment of nationally recognized skills certification and/or professional licensure in a intimate, secure, high-quality, service-oriented fashion,” says Allison. The Center is open when tests are scheduled and two Saturdays a month. “We do not schedule tests,” says Allison. “All tests at the Center are scheduled by the vendors.”

For more information about the Skills Certification Center, contact Jim Allison at 865-5864.



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