Competency Based Job Training Part 1

For many roles in the workplace, employers rely on a combination of classroom or online education, and on-the-job training/mentoring to ensure that workers are properly equipped to carry out their job duties. Yet inconsistent performance, lack of compliance, errors, accidents, and other issues still arise. Why does this occur?

What is learned in the classroom may not transfer well to the worksite. Not all workers have the ability to take a concept they learn in a theoretical setting and apply the principle when they are faced with a real-world scenario that may seem quite different. Even on-the-job training that has a new employee shadow a coworker for a few days or weeks can yield widely varying results based on the capability, attitude, and teaching style of the mentor. Often, there is no standardized way to track whether employees are learning and retaining the competencies they need to do their jobs safely and well.

At the end of the day, key questions remain:

  • Do employees know what is expected of them in both general and specific terms?
  • Do they have the skills required for their roles and assigned tasks?
  • Do those skills translate into the ability to perform in the real-world context of the workplace?
  • How are these factors being measured so they can be improved?

Competency based job training helps provide a framework to answer all of these questions. This form of training focuses on learning and applying necessary skills in the context of the workplace, allowing agencies to develop knowledgeable and capable employees throughout their organization.

Where to Begin in Creating a Competency Based Training Program

There are several initial assessments that should be undertaken before developing a training program. This month, we will explore the first step.

Step 1: Define Success

Identify what outcome the organization wants to achieve. Ideally, a highly targeted, competency based approach to employee development puts the emphasis on performance with a focus on what matters most to the organization. Areas of interest could be risk reduction, productivity, profitability, and other business metrics that can be readily measured. Being able to put a value on the outcome makes it more likely that stakeholders will be willing to allocate resources to the program.

Next month, we will cover additional decisions that must be made before designing a competency based job training initiative as well as key characteristics of a good program.