Learning & Development

What is Competency-Based Training?

As the name implies, competency-based training is a type of training that is focused on specific competencies or skills. Unlike other more traditional training methods, competency-based training is broken down into much smaller units that are focused on one single key skill. The learner must demonstrate his or her mastery of that single skill or competency before continuing to the next segment of training. The skills are put together into modules and typically at the end the learner receives some form of qualification or certification. This type of training may also be called outcome-based learning/training or skills-based learning/training.


Benefits of Competency-Based Training

There are a lot of benefits of this type of training—for both the employee and employer. Let’s take a look at a few:

  • Time management. Since the modules are broken down into small units, it can be less daunting to begin. Learners are able to simply complete a unit on an as-needed basis, without having to commit to a longer program all at once. This can make it easier to fit into already busy work schedules—allowing your employees to gain skills without taking them away from other tasks for too long.
  • User-directed. These types of modules are often self-paced, which means they can be completed at the user’s discretion. This can allow more flexibility in getting an entire team trained on a particular skill without having to get the whole team together at once. It can also mean that individuals can skip ahead when they already know one component, while those who need extra time can take it.
  • Reduced cost. With the way these types of modules are typically used, it can be  less expensive to implement than a larger training program, while still garnering many benefits for employees and employers alike. Less money is wasted on components of a program that are not as useful.
  • Allows personalization. This type of training can be set up to allow users to “test out” of specific modules, which can mean an entire program can be modified to suit individual needs. One individual may be able to skip modules in which he or she is already knowledgeable, thus saving everyone’s time and effort. It can also mean a larger program can be completed more quickly.
  • Flexible use. It can be used on its own or in conjunction with other learning methodologies, depending on the overall training goals. Alternatively, it can be used in remedial training situations since individual units can be taken alone and assessed.
  • Better retention. Learners can be more focused since they are able to take the training units at times that best suit them.
  • Workplace integration. This can be tied to career progression or to receiving pay raises in some cases. This is because this type of training is very objective in nature since it requires the learner to show competency in order to progress.

To implement a competency-based learning program in your workforce, the first step is, of course, to identify the full set of skills that will be part of any training program and create a logical progression from one skill to the next for learners to advance through. Once the various program components are agreed upon, then the actual training can be developed. After such a program is developed, the organization can assess which employees would benefit most from this particular skill set and put the steps in place for them to be able to participate. Employers would also have the option to partner with other organizations that provide the training and allow employees to utilize the programs already created.

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