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Competency-based training (CBT) focuses on the skills and knowledge needed to improve performance in the workplace. Rather than simply testing an individual’s book knowledge in a particular area, the focus of CBT is on performance of the competencies necessary in a given workplace setting. These competencies usually include a group of attitudes, knowledge, and skills relevant for the role and responsibilities of a particular job. Training and professional development through either instructor-led training sessions or computer-based training can improve these competencies. Demonstration of proficiency in specific competencies is typically measured according to a designated set of standards.
Various types of competencies covered in competency-based training include essential or functional competencies, and universal competencies, sometimes called behavioral or core competencies. Essential or functional competencies are those crucial to performing specific job tasks or fulfilling specific roles with a particular employer. Universal, behavioral, or core competencies generalize or transfer to many workplace settings, and may include adhering to codes of conduct, agreeing with fundamental values, and complying with the company's stated mission and goals.
An individual's life experiences, educational background, and other skills acquired in job settings contribute to his or her overall competencies. Many times, however, the human resources department implements different types of competency-based training to address the specific skill sets needed for that company, and to assess the performance of employees. For this reason, CBT is often referred to as performance management, human resource management, or competency-based management.
Different types of competency-based training may be included as part of an employee’s professional development. Depending on the company’s size and needs, CBT may be conducted in a workshop or conference session, particularly if hands-on practice is necessary. Otherwise, computer-based or online learning modules may be appropriate and are usually accessible through the company’s learning management system.
Instructor Led Training, or ILT, is conducted in live workshop or training sessions and can be more conducive to competency-based training when interactive exercises are essential to acquiring specific skills. For example, any position requiring knowledge of CPR and first aid necessitates hands-on application of a specific skill set. Studying CPR from a book does not provide the ability to practice applying the knowledge gained. In ILT, after providing the relevant information, the instructor facilitates application to ensure the learners acquire the necessary competencies to pass the assessment portion of the CBT.
Sometimes computer-based competency-based training is appropriate for employees who must enhance skills needed for their position. For instance, anyone whose job relies on operating a computer and navigating programs relevant to the company’s services can typically complete his or her CBT and assessment individually. Computer-based training provides a more flexible and convenient method to train individual employees, as well as large numbers of employees, when live sessions may be logistically and financially less feasible.
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