Competency Based Learning – Does it Work?

Training is a double-edged sword. While training is indispensable to eliminate the skill gap brought about by the introduction of new technologies, much of the training that takes place adds no value and is water down the drain. With the business environment getting tough, and top management seeking accountability for every dollar spend, business managers are now taking a long and hard look at their training strategies.

With conventional training methods failing to deliver the desired value, need to do something different becoming obvious, and among the various options, competency based learning is gaining traction.

What is Competency-Based Learning?

Competency Based Training is basically learning by doing. The trainee is given an opportunity to implement the acquired skills or knowledge, to confirm the training or the dissemination of knowledge was indeed effective. The evaluators prepare a set of criteria, to evaluate the ability, skills, and knowledge of the trainee, based on the observed evidence.

Competency Based Training

The proof of the pudding being the eating, if the trainee can perform the expected workplace role to satisfaction, training was indeed effective. Trainees are not expected to do better than others but simply do the task well enough to pass muster.

Does Competency Based Training Actually Work?

The very reason competency based training has gained traction is because it works. Empirical evidence reveals the application of competency based training being instrumental in the transformation of many employees, enabling them to perform individual tasks better, manage a range of different tasks, respond to contingencies effectively, seize the moment, and be more proactive.

Competency-based training measures the actual ability imparted by the training process, rather than the time spent on training. It delivers a fundamental shift in approach, by conducting training at the trainee’s pace rather than at the trainer’s pace. The training is complete only when the trainee demonstrates competency to do the job, regardless of the time taken.

Competency based training scores high on flexibility. Understanding the exact extent to which a person has the required skills, through life experiences, formal qualifications, natural talent, and other sources, makes it possible to customize the training program, without the individual having to waste time with others in a conventional training session, being thought what he already knows, to understand what he does not know. The positive impact such customization has on employee productivity and organizational efficiency is worth its weight in gold. The caveat, however, is a strong mechanism to measure skills accurately.

Competency based training puts the spotlight on defining the competencies, or the ROI. By making evaluation integral to the process, there is strict accountability and a clear evaluation of the extent to which training delivered the goods. The process of evaluation also gives accurate feedback on the extent of the gap that remains, and the additional skill-sets the trainee requires, to do the job satisfactorily.

Competency based training caters to the immediate requirements very well, so essential for today’s enterprise, where training aimed at long term goals are becoming increasingly irrelevant due to employee turnover and short shelf life of new technologies.

What about the Challenges?

Competency-based learning allows learners to attain mastery of each competency or skill at their own pace. A big practical concern such an approach raises is the severe time pressure faced by enterprises. Competency-based learning is, in essence, a sort of role-playing. Neither do today’s enterprises have the luxury of giving their workforce unlimited time to gain the required competency and nor can they afford to risk entrusting critical business processes to a potentially unprepared trainee, to see if he or she passes muster. The solution is a robust technology solution which makes sure the training takes place side-by-side with the job seamlessly, without being disruptive in nature.

Challenges for competency based learning

Another often heard criticism regarding competency-based training is its ignoring social learning. Again, technology is the answer. A strong technology backbone, where the trainee is exposed to a collaborative learning atmosphere, and empowered with competency-based learning tools ensure a more engaged learning atmosphere, complete with open communication and full transparency among trainees, trainees, and the wider ecosystem.

Need for a Technological Backbone

Competency based training requires a strong technical backbone to ensure it works seamlessly, without being disruptive in nature. Technological solutions can be put to effective use to identify gaps during the actual course of work, measure the competency levels, and design appropriate training schedules. A good technology solution enables all these without having to waste time drawing up an elaborate exercise for it.

An effective technological solution also offers the following advantages:

  • Automates the key tasks, sparing HR or other managers from taking the trouble to do so manually.
  • Ensures the skill evaluation and gap identification exercise is carried out on a continuous basis, always updated to reflect the real-time situation, rather than as a one-time exercise which only reflects the situation at one point in time, and would become soon obsolete in a fast-paced world.
  • Offers a unified repository of all training materials and resources, assigned to trainees on a need basis.
  • Facilitates a collaborative learning atmosphere, offering a unified interface to draw in experts and other stakeholders to the training process.
  • Facilitates record keeping, making it easy to track the progress of each employee, and draw the most relevant training solution, customized to individual requirements.

Up-Skill, a competency-based training platform offers the right mix of advanced technology, quality content, and expertise, empowering businesses to impart highly relevant and effective competency based training. The framework uses robust technology, comes with quality assurance, and encourages the creation of innovative solutions. Up-Skill’s advanced mobile app also ensures employees have the flexibility of accessing content and training material anywhere and at any time, catering to the needs of today’s workforce who require content anywhere, anytime, through the device of their choice.

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    About the Author

    Ashmitha Chatterjee

    Ashmitha works with Fingent as a creative writer. She collaborates with the Digital Marketing team to deliver engaging, informative, and SEO friendly business collaterals. Being passionate about writing, Ashmitha frequently engages in blogging and creating fiction. Besides writing, Ashmitha indulges in exploring effective content marketing strategies.

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