Competency-Based Training Design Tips and Best Practices

Damian Hehire-learning, General, training

Competency-Based Training Design Tips and Best Practices

Most training involves providing learners with training courses, including e-learning courses. Learners are then either encouraged or told to complete the courses that are relevant to them. Competency-based training is different as the objective is not to get the learner to complete a particular course. Instead, the objective is to help the learner achieve the required level of competency in the skill being taught.

In practice, this means some learners won’t need to complete certain training courses, while others will only need to partially complete the training content. Then there will be other learners who need to go through everything.

How do you optimise a competency-based training strategy when developing an e-learning course? The following tips and best practices will help.

E-Learning Tips and Best Practices for Competency-Based Training

Define the Core Competencies the Training Aims to Achieve

Before starting the process of developing your e-learning competency-based training course, it is important to define the competencies you want learners to achieve. When going through this process, it helps to be as specific as possible. Only when you have defined the core competencies can you assess whether learners have achieved them.

Another step you will need to take in these early stages is to decide how you will measure competency levels. How will you determine when an employee has a sufficient level of skill and knowledge?

The above doesn’t mean the method of assessment but rather what the employee needs to demonstrate to show they are competent.

Be Clear to Learners About Your Expectations

It is important to outline clearly to learners what you expect in terms of the training and the competency levels that should be achieved. This can be done through communication in advance of the training course being delivered, as well as in the initial screens of the course.

By being clear about your expectations, employees are more likely to buy into the process as they will know what they have to do and why it is important.

Complete a Skills Assessment First

Before learners get into the training element of your e-learning course, they should go through an assessment to check their current level of competency. Quizzes and tests using scenarios are both good ways of assessing current competency levels. In some situations, offline assessments might also be required.

The current competency level of a learner will then determine what happens next. They might not need to complete any of the training, they might need to complete some of the modules, or they might need to go through the entire course.

Track the Progress of Learners

Tracking progress often means tracking whether a learner has started or completed an e-learning course. This is not what competency-based training is about, however, so tracking the progress of learners means something different.

In competency-based training, tracking learner progress involves conducting regular assessments to understand how their skills are developing. The objectives of this are twofold:

  • To understand when the required level of competency has been achieved
  • To ensure the personalised learning path is optimised for the learner

Develop Personalised Training Paths

A competency-based training approach embraces the fact that everyone in your organisation will have unique training needs. This includes the level of training or additional support they need, as well as the pace at which they will go through the training.

Therefore, you should create personalised learning journeys based on the results of the initial assessment. One of the best ways of achieving this is by creating modular training courses, so modules can be added or removed as required.

Provide Detailed Feedback

Going back to why competency-training is effective, the objective is to help employees reach a desired level of competency. This should be the objective throughout the course, including when conducting reviews or assessments.

In particular, make sure detailed feedback is provided to learners rather than simply telling them if they got an answer right or wrong. Explaining why will help to increase their understanding which will get them closer to the required level of competency.

Review and Assess

As with all other types of training, there is always room for improvement with competency-based training. The thing that is different with competency-based training is that improvements can help you reach the main objective more quickly, i.e., helping learners achieve the required level of competency.

Therefore, it’s important to regularly review and assess all aspects of your competency-based training courses, including the initial skills assessment, the ongoing tracking of learner progress, and the training content.

Delivering for Your Business

Businesses in the UAE and Saudi Arabia don’t need staff that have completed lots of training programmes and courses. Instead, they need staff with the right skills and levels of competency. This is the type of focus you get with competency-based training.

It is a strategy that won’t be effective in all situations. However, where it is deemed to be beneficial, the above tips and best practices will help you get the best results.