PETALING JAYA: Gamuda Berhad is the first construction company in the corporate sector in Malaysia to receive the British Council 2019 Innovation in Assessment Award.
This award, won by the company for its Gamuda English Tests (GET) developed by its English Language Unit (ELU), recognises innovation in the areas of language testing and assessment.
The four online tests have been designed to gauge the English language ability among Gamuda's employees and prospective employees at the executive and managerial levels. These tests, being used both as diagnostic and recruitment tools, aid Gamuda's goals to ensure effective communication, knowledge sharing, innovation and improved performance.
The in-house English tests were designed by a four-person team led by the head of ELU at Gamuda, Dr Ho Sook Wah. According to her, deciding precisely on which language categories to assess – such as tenses, articles, sentence structures and ultimately, the weightage of each category – was perhaps the most challenging during test design and development.
"I believe that a successful English programme is vital as Gamuda sees the importance of effective communication across its business divisions and leverages on the level of English proficiency as a driver for continued learning and innovation," she said.
Dr Ho highlighted that a workforce with the competency to write and communicate effectively can translate into higher profitability and enhanced brand image.
Moreover, a strong will in leadership and sustained funding are key to enable an English language programme to make a difference.
The content of the online English tests was developed based on an analysis of various work documents provided by business units and interviews with key stakeholders. The six-band tests then underwent stringent rounds of pilot-testing involving personnel of different job grades, ages and varying levels of English proficiency before arriving at the current state with enhanced online interactive interface features.
An innovative feature of the tests is the individual diagnostic report which is generated upon completion of the online test. This is an insightful tool to identify development areas and gaps for customised English training programmes, as well as aid hiring managers to make informed decisions of prospective employees' language ability.
"We are really very pleased to have awarded Gamuda Berhad this year's Innovation Award. The research and development work that went into the identification of the test's content was impressive to say the least, while the quality control system developed for the final test versions is demanding and yet operationally practical," said Professor Barry O'Sullivan FAcSS, head of Assessment Research & Development, English & Exams, British Council.
"We feel that the test that has been created is an impressive effort and definitely represents a step in the right direction for proficiency testing in a corporate environment. Congratulations to all those involved."
"I would like to extend my warmest congratulations to Gamuda on receiving this prize and paving the way for more Malaysian corporates to recognise the importance of driving a high level of English language proficiency amongst their employees," said Sarah Deverall, director Malaysia, British Council.
"The Innovation in Assessment prize celebrates innovation in the area of language testing and assessment and is designed to complement our existing British Council ELTons awards, which are focussed on teaching."
The establishment of the ELU is a testament of Gamuda's commitment to enhance English language proficiency among its talents by developing and implementing programmes to improve communication effectiveness in English.
Thus the ELU was set up in 2016, with the intention to upskill the workforce by providing an avenue for language development for sustainable improvement and career advancement.
The British Council Innovation in Assessment Award has proven to be a strong validation of Gamuda's effort in setting our benchmark, and serves as a recognition of the importance of English in the corporate sector. Since its inception in 2013, the Award complements the prestigious British Council ELTons Awards in the UK.