DLCA hires contractor to offer professional licensing exams


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ST. THOMAS - After more than a year without a contractor in place, the V.I. Department of Licensing and Consumer Affairs will once again offer various licensing exams in 2013.

In July 2011, the company DLCA had contracted to administer the exams pulled out, saying there was not enough demand in the territory.

DLCA spokeswoman Shayla Solomon said the department typically tests fewer than 100 people per year.

Once the former company - Prometric Services - left the territory, DLCA began to look for a new testing service.

DLCA Commissioner Wayne Biggs Jr. said a contract has been awarded to PSI Services to provide computer-based testing in multiple languages for a range of professions.

"Immediately following Prometric's decision, the department actively engaged in a search to identify an alternate testing agency to create, administer, and score the required exams, in accordance with established national standards. We are pleased to announce that all individuals approved by their respective boards or commissions will be able to take their required exams in the beginning months of 2013," Biggs said.

As soon as an official start date is confirmed, the department will make it known to the public, Biggs said.

The testing fees will increase, but the increases are not finalized yet, Solomon said. She said the new rates will be made public in the near future.

Solomon said the new contract is about half what DLCA was paying before. Under the new two-year agreement, DLCA will pay $30,000 per year to PSI Services.

"We're getting a really much better deal here with PSI, and it's certainly cost-effective for the department," she said.

The new company will develop the tests, provide maintenance, administer the tests and provide security. The security is to prevent those who have taken the test from posting the questions or answers online, Solomon said. If such a breach is discovered, the test is changed, she said.

"We're happy that that's included in the contract," Solomon said.

Another new feature is the ability to administer the tests in several languages.

The barber and cosmetology exams will be available in Spanish and English, and the manicurist exam will be offered in Spanish, English and Vietnamese.

Tests offered by DLCA and administered by PSI Services will include:

- Real estate exams for brokers, salespeople and appraisers.

- Construction exam for general contractors.

- The state portion of the Certified Public Accountant exam.

- Trade exams for electricians, plumbers and heating, ventilation and air conditioning mechanics.

- Barber, esthetician, manicurist and cosmetologist exams.

Other professional exams required for licensing in the territory are administered by national organizations, Solomon said. For example, while DLCA offers the state portion of the CPA test, the national portion is conducted by the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy.

DLCA has only one testing facility for the territory, which is located on St. Thomas, but the department is trying to establish a testing facility on St. Croix, Solomon said.

For more information call 718-2226 on St. Croix or 774-3130 on St. Thomas.

- Contact reporter Aldeth Lewin at 714-9111 or email alewin@dailynews.vi.

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