Companies across many industry sectors adapted to a variety of challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic. Regional or national lockdowns put many business priorities on hold. When the world started to open up again, operating environments were disrupted by new regulations around social distancing. Those organizations that proved their resilience to the ‘new normal’ embraced these changes and found new ways of responding to consumer needs.
Pearson VUE delivers the driving theory test for its long-standing partner, the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) and Driver and Vehicle Agency (DVA). The computer-based test, which measures a learner driver’s knowledge, awareness, and competence, had to be completely suspended in the UK in December 2020 (due to national lockdown restrictions).
When theory tests resumed again in England and Wales from 12th April and in Northern Ireland from 23rd April, work was already underway to set up temporary testing sites to fulfill huge demand from candidates.
A significant logistical undertaking
Pearson VUE’s rapid roll-out of eleven ‘supercenters’ in key locations across the UK was aimed at providing a greater level of availability to people who urgently needed to pass their theory tests. Even with the disruption of COVID-19, specialist teams worked around the clock — conducting risk assessments, negotiating agreements with landlords, transporting huge amounts of technical kits, and training customer service teams — all to ensure the DVSA and DVA could ramp up testing when they needed it most. The dedicated ‘supercenter’ sites enabled Pearson VUE to significantly scale up delivery of additional test appointments and offer extended testing windows to candidates.
Adhering to COVID health and safety requirements
At each of the test centers, a range of health and safety measures were implemented to protect both testing candidates and staff, including extra disinfection of workstations (including computers and headphones) before every test, protective transparent screens in receptions/waiting areas, readily available hand sanitizer, and two-meter social distancing. Test center staff as well as test-takers had to wear a face covering (unless they had a medical reason for which they were exempt).
Alex Fiddes, Head of Digital Operations at the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency, said: "Pearson VUE impressed us by its dedication to this task and the speed at which it was able to roll out these sites and while adhering to strict COVID-19 protocol. By working together, we were able to support the UK’s recovery and help people stay safe on Britain’s roads."
Dr. Gary Gates, Senior Vice President of Global Business at Pearson VUE, said: "Having a driving license for many people means freedom and independence. We’re pleased to have played our part in getting people driving and back to a sense of normality. By speeding up the theory testing process through these dedicated ‘supercenter’ sites, Pearson VUE supported the UK government’s roadmap out of lockdown."
Record-breaking theory test volumes
The supercenter sites operated from May to September 2021. Volumes of theory tests delivered this year by Pearson VUE for the DVSA and DVA were record-breaking from April to August 2021. The ‘supercenters’ were set up in addition to Pearson VUE’s extensive network of Pearson Professional Centers (PPCs) across the UK.
From September 2004 to September 2021, Pearson VUE delivered over 31 million driving theory tests for the DVSA/DVA.