Monday, May 16, 2011

Competency Based Training and Assessment

Competency-based Training

In 1994, the National Leadership Council approved the NPS Employee Training & Development Strategy. This Strategy set a new direction for NPS training. In future, training opportunities will be designed around "competencies" which are established for each career field and for each job title.

Competency-based performance is a current concept in business and government. One comprehensive definition of "competency" is:
"A cluster of related knowledge, skills, and attitudes that affects a major part of one’s job (a role or responsibility), that correlates with performance on the job, that can be measured against well-accepted standards, and that can be improved via training and development." (Training magazine: July, 1996)

An "essential" competency is critical for an employee to perform effectively at his or her level in an NPS Career Field. A "universal" competency is one that is required of all NPS employees regardless of Career Field. An example of a universal competency would be "comprehension of the NPS’ Mission."

Competencies are gained through a multitude of ways—life experience; formal education; apprenticeship; on-the-job experience; self-help programs; and, yes, training and development programs. All of these together contribute to job competence in an employee. Ultimately, supervisors and employees working together and assessing consistency of job performance (behaviors) over time determine overall "employee competence."

When choosing training and development activities to help you achieve competencies identified for your job, target competencies – not courses.

What is competency based training?

Competency based training, sometimes referred to as CBT, was introduced into Australia in the late 1980s and is now the recognised training method for vocational training.

Competency based training (CBT) is an approach to vocational education and training that places emphasis on what a person can do in the workplace as a result of completing a program of training or based on workplace experience and learning.

Ideally, progress within a competency based training program is not based on time. As soon as students have achieved or demonstrated the required competency, they can move to the next competency. In this way, students may be able to complete a program of study much faster.

CBT is based on the concept that people can learn transferable skills and most training is transferable.

What is a unit of competency?

The competency standards in a Training Package describe work outcomes. Each unit of competency describes a specific work activity, conditions under which it is conducted and the evidence that may be gathered in order to determine whether the activity is being performed in a competent manner. By examining different aspects of the unit of competency, you will be able to gain answers to the following questions:
  • What is the work activity?
  • What does the work activity involve?
  • What skills are needed to perform the work activity?
  • What level of skill is needed?
  • What are the conditions under which this work activity may be conducted?
  • What evidence is needed to prove that a person is competent?
  • What knowledge and skills are needed to perform this work activity?
  • What generic work skills are needed?
  • Where should evidence be gathered?
  • What resources are required to gather the evidence?
National standards define the competencies required for effective performance in the workplace. A competency comprises the specification of knowledge and skill and the application of that knowledge and skill at an industry level, to the standard of performance required in employment. Units of competency can be either industry or enterprise based. Units of competency can be downloaded from the National Training Information Service database at:

What is competency based assessment?

Assessment is the process of collecting evidence and making judgments on whether competency has been achieved. The purpose of assessment is to confirm that an individual can perform the standard expected in the workplace, as expressed in the relevant endorsed competency standards.


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