Bridging education and employment: How ETS and PSI view the future of workforce development in the AI era

As the partnership between ETS and PSI grows, their impact on education and workforce development is expected to be profound. The deal highlights strategic synergy and reflects a broader shift toward lifelong learning and career advancement.

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The acquisition of PSI by Educational Testing Service (ETS) is a prime example of a strategic partnership with the potential to impact workforce development globally. 

Both organizations have a profound understanding of talent market demands and the need for innovation in education and professional certification. By combining ETS’s expertise in educational assessments with PSI’s prowess in certification and licensing, the partnership aims to address the needs of a global community of learners.

“We really wanted to bring together two leading brands—two leading institutions—to allow us to offer a suite of products and services from education to work in the measurement space,” said Amit Sevak, chief executive officer at ETS. 

“For ETS, this is an important milestone because this allows ETS to double down on our commitment to serve the workforce development space in partnership with PSI, the trusted source for measuring certifying and licensing competencies or skills that connect education and work,” he said.

Janet Garcia, chief executive officer at PSI, believes the collaboration is built on a foundation of rigor and discipline. “We share a lot of similar values in terms of our respective de rigueur of the science of measurement, but at the same time, we are entirely complementary in terms of the markets that we serve and how we go about it. So it felt like a very natural fit and one full of potential,” Garcia said.

A nuanced approach to global expansion

The challenges of global expansion are significant, yet the two companies have outlined a thoughtful approach to regulatory compliance and market adaptation. Their strategy strives to be responsive to the diverse requirements of educational and professional ecosystems across different countries, ensuring that their offerings remain relevant and impactful.

“We look at each market differently,” Sevak said. “Each country has different regulatory and market contexts and evolutions in how their education and workforce are progressing. And so, within that context, we then look for opportunities to work with the governments, associations, agencies, and companies, as to what they are looking to bring forward.” 

This commitment to working with various stakeholders and advancing a unified approach to today’s skilling demands could not have come at a better time.

“Everywhere we look in the world, there is this realisation that governments, associations, and companies have a huge responsibility to upskill and reskill their constituents. It’s the buzzword everywhere. The question is, ‘How do I understand and get a diagnostic of where the skills of my employees or constituents are?’ And then figure out how to progress those.

“That’s where we come in through the combination of PSI and ETS. We’re able to partner with governments, companies and associations to say, ‘Here’s where we are today in our skill set, and here’s where we want to be,” Sevak said. 

ETS and PSI have a very deep history in the benchmarking of competencies.

“It’s not just offering a quick test. It’s having a lot of seriousness in the rigor, validity, and reliability of the test, so that when we’re measuring a skill set, whether it’s for licensure, certification or any other kind of measurement—to help a country or company move forward—they can trust and rely on that measurement,” he said.

In some of the mature markets, like the US, both companies have seen the benefits of having a mature regulatory environment. 

“For some countries that are developing, we have a bigger role to play in supporting the capacity building for that country and establishing the regulatory environment,” Garcia said. “Between us, we have such a strong capability. We can both support mature markets and those developing markets as they begin to regulate and organise the way they support workforces in different industries.”

How ETS and PSI respond to the call for reskilling and upskilling

In the digital age, the imperative for reskilling and upskilling cannot be overstated. Technological advancements are rapidly transforming the job market, making continuous education and skill development essential for individuals to remain competitive. 

“When we talk about reskilling, we’re talking about taking an individual that has a set of skills, and then identifying if there’s an opportunity for a new project, new job type, or new technology that then requires that individual to pick up that new skill set,” Sevak said. 

“It’s taking an individual with a certain set of skills and in a certain job profile, and providing them oftentimes a pretty significant reprogramming or shifting of their skill set so that they can be able to survive and thrive in a new job or new function,” he said.

“What’s often a significant transformation is often enabled by technology. What’s causing this tremendous focus on reskilling is the way in which technology is ripping through sectors, ripping through countries, ripping through so many industries. ETS and PSI can play a huge role because we have this suite of end-to-end products and services that can help identify what skills are at different job levels at different industries.”

The ETS acquisition of PSI is poised to play a crucial role in this arena, providing tools and programs that support lifelong learning and career progression.

The responsible use of AI in testing and measurement

A key aspect of their strategy involves the responsible integration of AI in educational assessments and certifications. Both organizations are aware of the ethical considerations surrounding AI and are committed to developing guidelines that ensure its beneficial use. By harnessing AI’s potential responsibly, they aim to enhance the quality and accessibility of education and workforce development programs.

“Both organizations have been using AI in multiple functions in recent years, and obviously at an increasing pace,” said Garcia. “We will work together to embrace those opportunities.”

In equal measure, AI also poses a risk to keeping the integrity of testing and measurement intact.  “I’m excited about how we can join forces in protecting against the threats that AI brings towards maintaining security in high-stakes assessments that we rely on. The combination of ETS and PSI takes advantage of the opportunities of AI. But protecting ourselves, our learners and our clients against the threats that AI might present is going to become increasingly important,” she said.

As the partnership grows, its impact on education and workforce development is expected to be profound. The deal not only highlights the strategic synergy between ETS and PSI but also reflects a broader shift toward a more integrated approach to lifelong learning and career advancement.

The collaboration symbolizes a forward-thinking response to the challenges and opportunities of the digital era, promising to pave the way for a more adaptable and skilled global workforce.

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