Competency-based Training and Assessment – A Trainer’s Perspective

This entry was first written by me in 2013. I thought I’d bring it over here as it was rather relevant then as it is today.

I was first introduced to competency based training and assessment way back in 2009. At that time, I just started a company with 3 business partners. It was a facilities management consultancy firm where we help companies and asset owners manage their facilities.

When we started the company, we had a vision of venturing into training in Facilities Management. There was some discussion with another training provider on this partnership and hence, I was introduced to Competency Based Training and Assessment.

The reason I left was because I was still passionate about training and people development while the company has decided to change its direction to focus on hard-core engineering. So I continued to complete my Advanced Certificate In Training & Assessment (ACTA).

I was impressed with competency based programs. Some of its advantages are;
1. It’s designed specifically to a particular task/job scope. 
With that, I think learning will be more focused.

2. Benchmark
A competency based program has a minimum benchmark that needs to be met. Hence, learners will have a certain standard upon completion.

3. Evidence-based
Evidence has to be collected in order to justify a candidate’s competency. Hence it becomes very clear and distinct.

4. Useful for career progression
This is a useful tool for performance management.

However, like all, things, there is always another side of the coin. No man-made system is perfect. Some of its disadvantages are;
1. Cost
a. Time – A competency based program requires validation. Validation requires the involvement of professionals and consultation. When there is such a process, time becomes a factor.
b. Logistics – Competency based programs involve different tools for assessment. There are the different types of checklists, forms, scripts(for roleplays), etc. These results then require a storage or data management system.

2. Useful as long as the ‘tides’ do not change.
We have seen how technology, government regulations and economy affects certain industry down to the specific job scopes. A competency based program seems to remain relevant as long as external and internal factors remained status quo. When affected, the program will have to be revised and this results in another round of validation.

3. Dependent of Assessment Tools
Assessors do not have the flexibility to use the different types of tools available and are only limited to the tools specifically mentioned by the assessment program developer.

4. Dependent on the knowledge and experience of the program developer and team of consultants involved.
I personally feel that the difficulty of the people on the ground are often ignored as they rarely are involved in the program development.

Will I recommend using a Competency-Based Program?

Yes, in fact I do. I was given a brush off when I attended a trainers’ meeting in 2015 and the host, who was a supporter to accelerated learning, looked down on on of the advanced certificates in competency based learning. To be honest, as advocates in learning and personal development, as agents in education, how can we bring ourselves to talk down about learning or a particular certificate?

I would not look down on accelerated learning because it is another form of learning and training. It’s different, that’s all.

Of course, that lady did not invite me over after that.

Yes, competency-based programs may have its disadvantages but let’s not forget that it has its advantages too. In my opinion, I think competency based programs should not be on its own. It should be part of the entire human resource planning and development.

I have been teaching competency-based programs since 2013 and I loved every moment of it. I have seen how the program impacted their personal and professional lives for the better.

Yes, managing a training initiative with competency based programs an investment in terms of time and cost. As the skills and knowledge that employers want in today’s economy is rather specific, i would recommend a competency based program as it helps those without paper qualification to gain that specific knowledge and improve the quality and delivery of their job.

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