Competency Based Assessment | Process, Methods & Benefits

Competency Based Assessment | Process, Methods & Benefits

Understanding an individual’s capabilities and skills is no longer an option but necessary in this evolving job market. Studies indicate that skill sets for jobs have altered by approximately 25% since 2015, a number projected to double by 2027. It highlights the urgency of adopting effective methods for assessment.

This is where competency based assessment enters, a strategic approach to evaluate an individual’s ability to perform specific tasks relevant to their role.

This blog will focus on competency based assessment. We’ll explore its essence, illustrate various methods employed, the process to conduct it and the benefits it offers.

Next read: After understanding competency assessment, this comprehensive post about competency training can guide you in the right direction.

employees being assessed on the job

What is a competency based assessment?

A competency based assessment, often referred to as CBA, is an approach used to measure individuals’ skills, knowledge, and abilities related to a specific role or learning objective. This type of assessment focuses on the actual performance of an individual rather than mere theoretical knowledge. It provides a more accurate reflection of their capability to perform tasks in real-world situations.

In corporate and educational settings, a competency based assessment aims to ensure that an individual possesses the necessary competencies to succeed in a given role or academic program.

You set a series of tasks that reflect the demands of the role or learning objective to learn more about the individual. Then, you evaluate an individual’s performance against these competencies. These competencies can then be mapped out on a competency matrix for reporting and tracking purposes.

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Competency Assessments in the Workplace

In a corporate setting, competency based assessments are often used for hiring, promotion, and development purposes. They help employers identify potential employees with the required skill set for a specific job.

Competency Assessment in Education

In an educational setting, these assessments allow educators to measure whether students have mastered specific skills or knowledge areas necessary for their academic progression. This approach shifts the focus from rote learning to the application of knowledge.

statistic about job skill sets changing

The process of competency based assessment

The process of competency based assessment is dynamic. The assessment isn’t a one-off event but rather a cycle. Let’s look at the different steps involved in competency based assessment process:

1. Self Assessment

Self assessment is the starting point of the competency based assessment process. This step involves individuals analysing their abilities and skills concerning their role. It is a learning process that allows individuals to identify their strengths and weaknesses, understand their core competencies, and note where there’s room for improvement.

An honest self assessment can create a solid foundation for the upcoming stages in the competency based assessment process.

2. Workplace Review

Following self assessment, the next stage is the workplace review, where a supervisor or a manager evaluates an individual’s performance in the workplace. This review typically considers the quality of work, efficiency, task management, teamwork, and other role-specific competencies.

The goal is to understand how well an individual applies their skills and knowledge in real-world scenarios. A thorough workplace review can provide valuable insights that align with or diverge from the initial self assessment.

3. Understanding Development Needs

The next step is identifying the gaps or developing needs. This phase involves consolidating the findings from the self assessment and workplace review to highlight areas of improvement.

The aim is to draw up a comprehensive plan to address these skill gaps and further strengthen the competency areas.

4. On and Off the Job Learning

Learning is a critical part of the competency-based assessment process.

  • On-the-job learning allows individuals to enhance their skills in a practical, real-world environment. It includes activities such as job rotation, mentoring, or shadowing a colleague.
  • Off-the-job learning includes more structured learning such as attending workshops, webinars, or formal education and training programs.

Both types of learning offer unique benefits and are integral to the overall development of an individual.

5. Re-Assessment

Following the learning phase, a re-assessment is conducted to measure progress and the impact of the learning activities. This step is crucial to verify if the identified development needs have been effectively addressed and whether there has been a noticeable improvement in the individual’s competencies.

6. Continuous Improvement

Lastly, competency assessment emphasises the concept of continuous improvement. After the re-assessment, the cycle restarts.

Regular self assessments and workplace reviews, coupled with constant learning and development initiatives, ensure that individuals continue to evolve their skill sets.

PwC revealed that 74% of workers are ready to gain new skills or undergo re-training to keep their jobs. This makes continuous improvement a two-way effort where both the employer and employees actively contribute to skill enhancement and career progression.

statistic about employees being willing to learn

Competency Based Assessment Methods

There are several methods for conducting competency assessment. Some of common assessment activities include:

1. Self Assessment

Self assessment is a method where individuals evaluate their abilities and skills concerning their role or learning objectives. This introspective approach helps set the groundwork for personal development plans.

2. Manager and Supervisor Assessment

In this method, superiors evaluate the individual’s performance based on their observations and interactions in the workplace. They assess employees’ work quality, efficiency, ability to manage tasks, teamwork, and other role-specific competencies. Such assessments provide an external perspective on the individual’s performance and current capabilities.

3. Expert or Experienced Operative

Sometimes, an expert or an experienced assessor review the competence. This person could be an industry professional or an expert within the organisation who has an in-depth understanding of the role and the competencies required. Their assessments often offer valuable insights based on their extensive experience and deep understanding of the competency domain.

4. Multi-rater and 360-degree Feedback

Multi-rater and 360-degree feedback is a more comprehensive assessment method. It involves collecting performance feedback from various sources such as peers, subordinates, managers, and sometimes even clients. The 360-degree feedback provides a holistic view of an individual’s skills, competencies, and performance. This method is particularly useful for leadership roles where interpersonal and managerial skills are crucial.

5. Assessment Centres and RTOs (Registered Training Organisations)

Assessment centres and RTOs are professional bodies that conduct competency-based assessments. Assessment centres often use methods like work simulations, interviews, and psychometric tests to evaluate competencies.

RTOs, on the other hand, offer vocational education and training. They assess individuals against industry standards to certify competency.

6. Competency Based Assessment tools

Competency based management tools offer structured and standardised ways to evaluate an individual’s skills and abilities. It may range from online quizzes and simulations to practical tasks and performance reviews. They provide an objective measure of competency for effective skill development.

The method of competency assessment can vary based on the context, the nature of the role, and the specific competencies being assessed. The choice of method should align with the overall goal of the assessment.

benefits of competency based assessment

Benefits of Competency Based Assessment

Competency based assessment benefits both individuals and the organisation. Let’s have a closer look at some of these benefits.

1. Individualised Learning

Each person is unique in their strengths, weaknesses, and learning pace. Through competency based assessments, individuals can focus on improving their weaknesses while continuing to hone their strengths. It’s a tailored approach that considers individual capabilities and developmental needs.

2. Clear Expectations

Competency assessment provides clarity on what is expected from an individual. It outlines the specific skills, knowledge, learning outcome, and abilities needed for a role or a learning objective. This clarity enables individuals to understand exactly what they need to work on and the expected performance level.

3. Flexibility

This assessment method offers flexibility. Individuals can work towards mastering competencies at their own pace and in their own way. This flexibility is especially beneficial in a learning environment as it accommodates different learning styles and paces.

4. Transparent Learning Path

Competency based assessments outline clear and transparent learning path. Individuals can see the progression of their skills and competencies, understand where they currently stand, and what they need to achieve next. This clarity helps guide their learning journey and fosters a sense of achievement as student progress.

5. Fairness and Equality

Since competency assessment focus on the mastery of specific skills and knowledge, they promote fairness and equality. Every individual is assessed on the same competencies irrespective of their background or prior knowledge. This approach ensures that assessments are objective and based purely on an individual’s capability to perform tasks related to the role or learning objective.

6. Preparation for the Real World

Competency based assessments prepare individuals for the real world by focusing on applying knowledge rather than rote learning. They assess the ability to perform tasks in real-world scenarios, promoting critical thinking, problem-solving, and practical application of knowledge – skills essential in the workplace and life.

7. Continuous Feedback and Improvement

This form of assessment provides continuous feedback, promoting an environment of continuous improvement. Individuals can constantly monitor their progress, identify areas of improvement, and take necessary steps to enhance their skills and competencies through regular assessments.

Final Thoughts

Competence based assessment stands as a transformative tool for organisations. It can help them align individual abilities with job-specific needs. Focusing on actual skill application ensures individuals are job-ready and they’ll contribute to organisational efficiency and growth.

Embracing this strategic approach can usher in a culture of continuous learning, improvement, and achieve success for both individuals and the organisation.

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