In this article, Zalika King, AMT Training's e-Learning Specialist, discusses how competency based training has redefined the focus of training and development on a global scale. In learning and development terms AMT Training deliver what is commonly referred to as an instructional or learning intervention. Programs are specific, formalized and instructed within an agreed time period covering predetermined curricula. An instructional intervention is often characterised by its propensity to be customisable and trackable. It is therefore, in the detailed assessment of learner needs that AMT client service managers identify how they will fill the skills gap. From here the program is curated, materials designed, training delivered and evaluated. AMT facilitate the journey to professional readiness for their learners who consequently demonstrate an expected level of competency in their business area.
What is competency based training
Competency, as defined by Le Boterf in Perrenoud (2002) is knowing how to mobilize. It allows one to face a complex situation and build an appropriate response without defaulting into a register of pre-programmed responses. What characterizes the competency-based approach to training is that training aims for goals unrelated to the content conveyed but rather relevant to the capacity for action achieved by the learner (Perrenoud, 2002).
The learning community have concluded that in order to be competent one requires the mobilization of diverse internal resources including but not limited to specific knowledge, technical skills, social, interpersonal skills and external resources such as materials to solve a given complex situation (Ait, Bakkali, Ajana, Gassemi, 2017).
What we now know is that the adequacy of training to professionalism is an essential keystone to training design and deployment. The process of integrating expectations of the current business world into training is one of the defining features of a successful training program.
Any forward thinking learning methodology should consider the current economic landscape and implement goals that can be evaluated accordingly. Traditionally, learners were assessed in terms of knowledge acquired yet a new approach observes the learner’s ability to be able to perform independently.
Objectives specific to the cognitive trajectory of learning development are classified in Bloom’s taxonomy with an overarching emphasis on the hierarchical flow of information moving from simple to more complex (Conklin, 2000). The focus of competency-based training curricula however requires a broader focus towards both cognitive and societal markers of learning and development.
Competency Based Training Framework: Literature Review
Presently the literature is focused on the adequacy of training-job match. It is a discussion surrounded by concerns of the unemployment growth rate and increase in graduate candidates. In a recent article entitled “When training is not enough: preparing students for employment in England, France and Sweden” Nicholas Charles (2015) argues that England & Sweden does not opt for the professionalisation of learners in higher education that many would assume.
This comparative study has instead proven the professional aptitude of the French model which actively promotes the assimilation of professional skills within education and training. The French model tends to meet the expectations of the labour market hereby illustrating the current adaptation of training design (Charles, 2015).
This approach is now applied in many corners of the world such as USA, Australia and Europe and is also one of the new educational policies supported by UNESCO, the OECD and all States involved in the Bologna Process rendering the dissemination of knowledge an engine for economic and social development (https://unevoc.unesco.org). This drive is grounded in a framework for competency-based training constituting the interface that makes it possible to move from the world of training to the world of work (Deschryver et al 2010).
Competency based training at AMT
Adopting a competency-based framework provides clear verification apropos with competencies AMT uphold globally. In revising this frame of reference from what learners must know to what learners can do results in the ratification of learning standards across Asia, USA & Europe, thus widening the operational scope.
By continuing to produce direct links between learning outcomes and learning activities, client service managers and trainers connect each learning outcome with a suitable learning activity or situation. The trainer is viewed as a facilitator advising learners and encouraging them to be creative whilst providing structure, also referred to in developmental psychology as scaffolding (Vygotsky, 1978).
AMT have introduced more flexibility within the classroom in an endeavour to move away from the transactional lecture-based style of teaching and moving towards the utilisation of a catalogue of case studies, toolkits, customised exercises and scenario-based activities.
An emphasis on cross-disciplinary skills such as time management and a range of soft skills has enabled learners to become more exposed to the societal implications of their chosen professional domain providing a more impact experiential program.
Competency-based training within AMT also ensures equity as this approach addresses issues of exclusion known to be embedded into the traditional learning process. Following this, in presenting a business case and strategy for training evaluation it becomes evident that the provision of a competency based framework affords measurable outputs necessary to assess the success of training in a simple and agile way.
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Fundamental objectives of competency based training:
- Emphasizes the competencies that a learner must master at the end of a program rather than focusing on what a trainer should teach. Thus, learning outcomes are organised in the best way so as to bring learners to an expected level.
- Gives meaning to learning outcomes, showing what purposes everything learnt during the program has. It moves beyond lists of content subjects for memorization – it trains learners to continuously relate the learning to situations and to utilise their acquisitions in these situations.
- It is a matter of verifying and validating the participants achievements in terms of resolving concrete situations, not the sum of knowledge and know-how that the learner often hastens to forget, and which he may not know how to use in professional situations.
(Ait, Bakkali, Ajana, Gassemi 2017)
- Ait, Z., Bakkali, S., Ajana, S., Gassemi, K., (2017). The Application of the competency-based approach to assess the training and employment adequacy problem. International Journal of Education (IJE) Vol. 5, No1, March 2017
- Charles, N., (2015). When Training Is Not Enough: Preparing Students for Employment in England, France and Sweden. Sociologie du Travail, Elsevier Masson, 2015, 57 (Supplement 1), pp.1-21.
- Conklin, J (2000). “Book review of a taxonomy for learning, teaching, and assessing: A Revision of Bloom's taxonomy of educational objectives,” Educational Horizons. vol. 83, n° 3, pp. 154-159, 2005.
- Deschryver et al., (2010).“Projet de développement des plans d’étude de BA et MA à la section de génie mécanique de l’EPFL,” conference presented at the Conference of the News of research in education and training, Genève, 13-16 Sept 2010.
- Perrenoud, P., (2002). “D'une métaphore à l'autre : transférer ou mobiliser ses connaissances ?,” in L’énigme de la compétence en éducation, D. Joaquim et al., Bruxelles : De Boeck, 2002, pp. 45-60.
- Vygotsky, L. S. (1978). Mind in society: The development of higher psychological processes. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
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