ATOs and PeopleCert: creating a shared vision for growth

ATOs and PeopleCert: creating a shared vision for growth
Catherine Newman – VP Global Business Development, PeopleCert

Great change brings new ways of processing and acting upon existing ways of working, to challenge outdated preconceptions and best prepare for the future. As professionals, we are called to embrace and prepare for such change when it comes. However, we must also be equally cautious about prematurely considering any one way of working redundant from the outset.
The arrival of digital reading devices brought ominous forecasts for the fate of books. But did books die? International research company, IBISWorld – in its outlook for global book publishing 2021-26 – says: “rising internet usage will likely make books more accessible…while rising literacy rates and a focus on education will likely produce a world full of readers.”
A book – once reviewed by a series of people – gains validity as something important. Similarly, a certification after a course of study validates a person’s knowledge, skills and competence. The power of such recognition hasn’t changed, and the current market expectation for a skilled workforce with relevant and specialised experience leads us to develop and deliver exams that are current, valid and of the highest quality. 
Working with corporate employers to ensure they continue to value training and certification is at the heart of our vision and why we – as a learning community – must protect them. 
Planting the seeds of a long-term plan 
Designing and implementing our new commercial policy in February this year was, admittedly, a major transition to undertake in such a short period. If we could do it again, we would have chosen a longer lead time, yet we were obliged to act decisively, proactively, and quickly to realise these necessary changes effectively. 
It is seldom the case that any large, commercial policy shift is universally welcomed, and we acknowledge how difficult it’s been for many training organisations to administer the necessary changes in a cohesive way. 
However, those changes were based on significant research and pre-planning with our partners, which led to the four foundational pillars of portfolio excellence, digital first, simplicity and community.
And despite the short-term pressures we know are felt in some parts of the community, we believe the changes have planted the seeds for long-term success: you and us, growing together. 
Moving ahead as a global family 
In the brief period since moving to the new commercial policy, I’ve been taken aback by the overall level of support shown by the partner community. 
Emerging from the pandemic experience – when OLP increased to cover 75% of exam bookings and training partners expanded their businesses via digital classrooms – it made sense to move to a digital first strategy for exams and a digital book for every learner.
Going digital for exams means we can manage consistency and guarantee quality, which is critical. Localising and tackling the grey market are key outcomes of this. While the new availability of OLP has been successful, we recognise that some markets are currently more paper-based than others and so those conversations will continue.
In terms of the e-books, working with Vital Source has shown that the books can offer a comprehensive reader experience – making them a true online tool of value and not one-dimensional PDFs. And we will continue to localise the books as quickly as possible. 
We are aware that simplifying our pricing – from five regions to three – has impacted people in different ways. While we continue to help our wider partner network to mitigate the impact of this change, we must acknowledge the vital role this decision plays in removing the previous disparities. 
While all the major changes went to plan when the new commercial policy went live in February, the entire process was not without some expected setbacks. That meant doing manual workarounds for certain platforms and systems, which was broadly appreciated by partners. 
Looking at it from the vantage point of today, I think the biggest win is that three previous organisations – Axelos, TSO and PeopleCert – are now one; giving us the ability to take a genuinely combined approach to content, exams and the learning experience.
A long-term commitment
The value of the changes we’ve made is in what we – as a community – can do together.
Part of that is a commitment to long-term investment in new certifications, but also updating the existing best practice portfolio and continuing with localisation initiatives.
We’ve all seen the benefit of bringing ITIL 4 up to date in 2019 and this needs to happen across other certifications too. 
Therefore, we are actively researching what the market wants and will – as soon as possible – articulate what the product roadmap looks like. 
The experiences we have shared in the almost year-long amount of time since PeopleCert acquired Axelos has shown us the importance of working with our partner community. Whatever we do, we want to work with you well in advance to plan what our collective world will look like in the coming year.