Prometric Seeks Innovation in Assessment Industry with Acquisition of Finetune

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Three things in life are certain: death, taxes and dues. That’s why, despite a market that leaves tech CEOs in tears as they lay off employees, the Guangzhou-based company Prometric was able to complete the acquisition of Boston-based assessment and assisted learning technology company Al Refine earlier this month.

Prometric works with leading certification bodies, educational institutions, and government organizations to develop and deliver assessments around the world. Whenever a professional like a nurse, accountant, or electrician needs to take a test for licensing or certification, a company like Prometric has helped make it happen. In the wake of the pandemic and the rise of remote working, the company has seen an increase in the number of organizations requiring remote assessments. CEO and President of Prometric Roy Simrel said in a statement that the acquisition “represents a significant opportunity” to innovate in the assessment industry, as well as to stay ahead in a field that affects so many sectors of the changing economy.

Nikki Eatchel, director of assessment at Prometric, described assessments as a “quietly ubiquitous industry.” This ubiquity explains why Prometric continues to grow as the growth trajectories of other tech companies slow this year. If there is a real estate crash, fewer real estate agents can opt for real estate licenses; in this case, the company could simply move to a more stable part of the economy and do assessments for, say, nursing licenses.

“In fact, when you have struggling markets, it’s usually when you have people who want those opportunities to demonstrate their knowledge and demonstrate their skills in other markets,” Eatchel said. Technically. “That’s what these assessments really allow individuals to do.”

Eatchel added that Prometric wants to use Finetune’s AI and natural language processing technology to help subject matter experts create fair, valid and equitable assessments that give everyone the best chance of success. She has worked in the industry for 25 years and sees the use of AI and more advanced solutions as a potential paradigm shift.

“It’s a great industry to work in, but because it’s a smaller industry, it requires more innovation and better tools in order to continue serving the general public,” Eatchel said.

For those who have never considered the reviews industry and see it as a chance to grow into a stable but growing field, Eatchel recommends three routes into the industry:

  • Act as a subject matter expert developing content for assessments. For example, if you’re a doctor or CPA and already help create reviews in your field, it can help you get into the industry.
  • Get a degree in psychometrics. A background in statistics also provides a common pathway into the world of evaluations.
  • Some skills can be learned on the job in a testing organization, providing another gateway.

Donte Kirby is a 2020-2022 corps member of Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Robert W. Deutsch Foundation. -30-
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