Why You Need a Competency-Based Education Model—And How to Create One

It’s becoming increasingly important for students and workers to develop new skill sets. Many organizations are moving toward skills-based work models to alleviate hiring pressure and better allocate resources. According to research from Deloitte, organizations implementing skills-based models are 98% more likely to retain top talent and 107% more likely to place talent effectively than their counterparts.

An increased focus on skills means changing how you approach teaching and training. Competency-based education (CBE) helps learners master different skills and better prepares them for an ever-changing workforce.

What Is Competency-Based Education?

CBE is a systematic approach to instruction that emphasizes skills development rather than task completion. Learners are assessed based on their ability to demonstrate a specified level of achievement and application of specific skills, behaviors, or objectives, all of which embody competencies. Traditional teaching models focus on passing assessments, moving learners through programs regardless of how thoroughly they understand the concepts taught—as long as they’re earning passing grades.

The following table provides an overview of the differences between the two teaching strategies:

What Is Competency-Based Education?

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Why You Need a Competency-Based Education Model

According to research from the World Economic Forum, 40% of current workers’ core skills are expected to change over the next five years. Additionally, 50% of all employees will need to be reskilled by 2025. It’s no longer realistic to finish a degree program and expect to perform clearly defined (and limited) job duties. The skills needed for organizations to thrive are constantly and rapidly evolving, making it more important than ever for workers to learn and leverage new skills.

For universities and other higher-learning institutions, CBE models can be a way to support learners looking for a more direct path to employment. Skills-based hiring is on the rise, and four-year degrees are no longer a requirement for gainful employment in many sectors. Institutions must adapt to this change to continue attracting students to their programs.

Implementing workforce training programs based on the CBE approach can also assist organizations in supporting their employees’ development and growth. CBE models allow workers to develop skills directly related to their job duties and professional aspirations. Because this kind of training takes learners’ knowledge into account, they can often be more engaging and lead to a deeper understanding of the training.

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How You Can Create a Competency-Based Education Model

Creating a CBE model that will help your learners establish, grow and demonstrate knowledge and skill boils down to six key components:

  1. Establish measurable organizational and learner outcomes
  2. Identify which skills, behaviors, and competencies must be achieved in order to fulfill these outcomes
  3. Select the appropriate technology to design, deliver and measure the program and learner achievement
  4. Design flexible, engaging learning programs that provide ample opportunity for learners to develop and apply skills
  5. Ensure learners are able to learn at their own pace
  6. Establish which technologies will support your program delivery

As part of the CBE design process, you’ll establish a competency framework that may contain outcomes, behaviors, skills, or other levels that learners must progress through to achieve competency. Once these pieces are in place, you can begin creating flexible programs that meet learners’ needs and develop their skills. It’s essential that these programs allow students to demonstrate their skills and knowledge in a variety of ways.

The technologies with which you choose to implement your programs will be influenced by your goals and how learners will demonstrate their skills. A digital platform that allows for flexible learning is ideal for a CBE model. Choose a learning management system (LMS) that accommodates multiple forms of assessment and content delivery so your learners have multiple pathways to achieve success.

Prepare for the Future With Competency-Based Education

Being a skilled worker means more than earning a degree or certification. To be truly prepared for the workforce, learners must achieve a desired level of competency and be ready to adapt to rapid change. By shifting the way you teach and train to CBE, you will create learners with a deeper understanding of the knowledge and skills required to succeed in the workplace.

Digital learning solutions from Open LMS can help you implement CBE models. Contact us today to learn how!
Amy Tessitore
About the author

Amy Tessitore

Tessitore has been involved with Moodle-based LMSs longer than she might care to admit, but those years have made her a well-established name in the community. An open-source LMS Adoption and Education Manager by day and a Moodle User Association member by night, you might have come across her before at a conference or online talking about learner engagement in online environments, providing tips and tricks to new admins, or gently reminding her dog Pearl that the world does not revolve around her.

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