Building capabilities

Self taught versus academic qualifications

This was the question posed on Donald Trump’s The Apprentice. For those not familiar with this show, two groups of people competed over a series of weeks by performing various business related tasks.

The winner would eventually become Donald Trump’s apprentice. One group was made up of people with academic qualifications. The other group was made up of people who didn’t have qualifications, but were self taught and running their own businesses.

This is a good place to start understanding what competency assessment is all about. The only way to know whether street smarts or book smarts is better, is to look at individual people in their own right. Assessing people using their knowledge and skills in an on the job situation is the key to competency assessment.

Every job requires a specific set of knowledge and skills. And this varies depending on the type and complexity of the job. More than just knowing whether street smarts or book smarts is better, competency assessment is all about providing a way of building the skills and knowledge people need to perform their current job. It is also the key element of the succession planning process because it provides a way of developing people for their future roles.

A typical competency assessment process

Competency assessment diagram

  • An ongoing process

    Competency assessment is an ongoing process of continually building knowledge and skills. Organizations are much more dynamic now and competency assessment addresses the need to stay ahead of the curve.

  • Improved knowledge & skills – improved performance capability

    There are a number of different ways of doing competency assessment. The method described here is designed to be a more objective assessment and provide better quality outcomes.

  • Finding the key

    The key to competency assessment is that it is based on actual skills and knowledge that a person can demonstrate in the workplace or other contexts. This is different to other approaches where there is no requirement to demonstrate knowledge and skills – like approaches where people just answer questions as a test of their knowledge and skills. The problem with testing is that it doesn’t guarantee that a person will be able to do something – it just verifies that they know something.

    The process starts with a person assessing themselves against a set of competencies. They compile a list of evidence that shows they are competent. A workplace assessor reviews the evidence and verifies the person performing the skill.

    Development needs are identified. The person uses a variety of sources, both on and off the job to develop the areas identified. After a period, the person is reassessed and if they can now demonstrate the skills, they are awarded competence.

  • COMPETENCY ASSESSMENT FOR ORGANISATIONS
  • Your organisation will benefit from increased productivity and profitability by ensuring employees have the capability to meet their objectives.
  • More objective with assessment being carried out ‘on the job’.
  • Training is only provided for areas identified as needing development.
  • Reduced training costs because learning and development can occur on the job.
  • You can create project teams of people with complementary skills.
  • Competency data is the basis for dynamic succession planning.
  • COMPETENCY ASSESSMENT FOR PEOPLE
  • Self driven process – learning occurs at the person’s own pace and on the job.
  • Existing knowledge and prior learning are recognized.
  • Competence is shown by being able to demonstrate skills.
  • Fairer and more objective assessment.
  • Builds knowledge and skills that are directly useful to the person in their job and for future roles.