Skip to content

What is it?

The process of learning a skill by performing that skill with consistent repetition and feedback. Also referred to as competency-based education.

Why is it important?

People learn by doing. Learning and development specialists often apply the 70-20-10 model, which says that 70% of what people learn is from job-related experience, 20% from interactions with others, and 10% from formal training or education(Training Industry 2014). This suggests that well over half of learning should be based on the learner performing a skill rather than an instructor or peer presenting knowledge about the skill.

Why does a business professional need to know this?

To keep pace with innovation and execute on transformative initiatives, organizations need to make skill development, and any needed re-skilling, a core component of the employee journey. And employees need to continue to master new skills as quickly as possible.

Competency-based learning is a key strategy to help companies meet these challenges. It helps ensure that training is relevant to the work by putting the tasks learners will do on the job into the learning content.

Competency-based learning begins with a needs analysis, which identifies the actual competencies required for mastery on the job. Equipped with information from the needs analysis, subject matter experts, and prospective learners, the learning and development team crafts learning content that challenges learners to perform aspects of the work as part of the curriculum.

Typically, competency-based learning allows individual learners to practice until they reach a designated mastery level before moving forward. Practice or repetition might take the form of simulation practice, scenarios, timed drills, etc. It might also include peer mentoring, coaching, and demonstration of mastery. This repetition and practice is especially helpful when the job tasks carry a risk of harm or injury.

Successful and effective competency-based learning provides learning content that is as close to real-world experiences as possible. This includes methods such as simulations, scenarios, hand-on exercises, timed drills, task observation with feedback, etc. Well-designed competency-based learning helps learners connect what they are learning to what they will be doing on the job.


About Dan McCann

Photo of Dan McCann

Dan McCann is an experienced and dynamic leader with a passion for lifetime learning, growth strategy, and innovation. Dan started his career in sales, co-founded FRONTLINE Selling where he successfully managed the business from start-up through 15 consecutive years of profitable growth. In 2018, Dan launched SymTrain, which is transforming the future of work by automating the process of situational learning. SymTrain customers train and assess sales, service, and support employees faster and better than they ever could using manual alternatives.

Term: Competency Based Learning



Twitter: @symtrain