Nasscom to revamp skills test for BPO jobs

Moumita Bakshi Chatterjee New Delhi | Updated on March 18, 2011 Published on March 18, 2011


Industry association Nasscom has revamped the Nasscom Assessment of Competence (NAC) — its assessment and certification programme aimed at testing candidates on basic skills for hiring within the BPO industry.

It has tweaked the platform to allow candidates to get ‘instantaneous results' for the tests they undergo. Earlier, the results were available only after a two weeks gap.

Moreover, to widen the reach of NAC, Nasscom is working out a retail strategy wherein individual candidates can walk into designated test centres for assessment. So far NAC was available only if a college or a university organised the test for its students, or if a State held the test and invited candidates for it.

“Earlier, the test results for candidates would come only after two weeks, and that was too long a time for BPO companies to wait. Hence there was a certain reluctance by them to use it for hiring purposes…The revamped version will address those concerns,” Dr Sandhya Chintala, Director Education Initiative, Nasscom, said.

Dr Chintala said that in its pilot run spanning a few years NAC had covered almost 20 States and tested 50,000 candidates.

“Despite the intent by companies to adopt this, the impact has not been as effective because of various gaps including the costs of the test. Over the years, this has come down to Rs 350 from Rs 1,850. Also, now we have identified the vendors for the retail model and will be signing the agreement with them shortly,” she said.

The roll out of the retail model will also allow NAC to strengthen the effectiveness and industry response to the programme. While Genpact, Accenture, Convergys, IBM Daksh, WNS and EXL have “endorsed” the programme, the companies are in the midst of “calibration” to adopt the tests to suit their own recruitment processes, she said.

For instance, a company may want to assign different weightage to different skills-sets to suit hiring requirements for a particular function. That process is currently on, she points out.

The NAC assesses candidates on some basic skills including analytical and quantitative ability, English, and listening and speaking, and keyboard skills. The benefits of introducing a standard assessment like NAC is that it enables BPOs to reduce recurring costs involved in testing each candidate because the same score could be used by different companies at different times. From the candidate's perspective, he or she needs to take the test only once.

NAC also allows candidates to do a strengths and weaknesses assessment and go for specific training for improvement.

Typically, once the students take these tests at their colleges, they can showcase scores to companies at forums such as job fairs. “The scores are also updated in the Nasscom database which member companies can utilise while searching for suitable candidates,” she said.

Nasscom is also planning a similar overhaul for NAC-Tech, an existing programme for assessment for IT skills.

Published on March 18, 2011
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