Competency-Based Training (CBT) is an approach to learning that measures success through mastery of specific knowledge and the skills to use that knowledge.
While traditional, time-based approaches are instructor-led, CBT is conversely a participant-centered method. It offers significant advantages for skilled team members who must assimilate new learnings or changes to their existing context while under the pressure of day-to-day operational responsibilities.
Many countries operate their entire education system using CBT. In the U.S., Exemplar Global (formerly RABQSA) certifies CBT courses and instructors for quality and environmental management systems. SIP Senior Strategist Dr. Robert Pojasek is certified in CBT.
SIP uses Competency-Based Training for our Ethical Sourcing-Trade Initiative as it aligns with a highly-focused approach to mastering tasks in conformance to standards that also involve functionality with a technology-based platform.
Competency-Based Training is, by nature, participatory. It is not comprised of a lot of lectures; rather it features focused exercises used to develop knowledge and skills.
Continual feedback is provided by the CBT instructor to the candidate. There is no grading and participants are examined as either "competent" or "not yet competent."
With no failing grades, someone who is "not yet competent" will be provided with a learning pathway by the CBT instructor in order to provide more evidence, or more assessment opportunity, until the candidate achieves competency (the ability to perform the task).
Much like apprenticeship programs of the past, the CBT instructor continues to work with the candidate until the required skill can be demonstrated.
A typical CBT program synthesizes several methods or formats that work together:
- Competencies are carefully selected
- Supporting theory is integrated with any skill practice
- Essential knowledge is learned to support the performance of the skills
- Detailed training materials are keyed to the competencies to be achieved, and are designed to support knowledge and skill acquisition
- Methods of instruction involve mastery learning; all participants are provided sufficient time and appropriate training methods
- Participants are assessed as they enter the program; those with satisfactory knowledge and skills may bypass training or any competencies they have already attained
- Flexible training approaches are used, such as large group methods, small group activities and individual study
- A variety of support materials are also used, including print, audiovisual and simulations keyed to the skills being mastered
- Satisfactory completion of the training is based on achievement of all specified competencies
Key benefits to participation in a CBT program include:
- Achieve competency in the performance of specific tasks
- Build confidence as one masters specific competencies
- Receive recognition (via a transcript) that specific competencies have been achieved
- More efficient and effective use of time with the trainer as a guide rather than an information provider
- A focus on working individually, one-on-one, or in small groups as opposed to lectures
- Evaluation based on the ability to perform essential skills
- Greater awareness of the specific attributes and skills required for performing with ease and effectiveness