Three reasons why you should engage with competency-based learning

In today’s work environment, nothing is as constant as change. Massive trends, like digitalization or artificial intelligence on the one hand, and the tackling of climate change on the other, lead to significant changes in companies’ business models and their workflows. That is why the speed, but also the pressure to innovate, is now greater than ever. The keyword is agility. Those who stagnate will go extinct.

This increased pacing poses several challenges for companies. The half-life of knowledge, as well as employee qualifications and competencies, becomes outdated or obsolete in increasingly shorter intervals. At the same time, technical innovations mean an additional skill requirement for companies. The newest robot technology or algorithm can only be profitably utilized if companies have employees with suitable competencies to use them.

In this context, how can companies develop employee competencies most efficiently? Answer: By using individual, targeted, continuous education with a focus on competency-based learning.

Competency-based learning – the learning concept for the digital age

Continuous education based on the scattergun approach is still utilized by the majority of companies, especially when it comes to compliance-related topics. It is the reason why this type of education – e-learning in particular – is not always accepted by employees.

Competency-based learning, however, follows a different approach: Here, company training and continuous education is individualized and designed to be adaptive to ensure that the learning process matches the individual needs of the learner. Competency-based learning does not treat all employees equally; instead, it acknowledges individual strengths, weaknesses, and learning goals. As a result, the employee processes courses/modules/learning content that is relevant to attain the competency.

Focusing on the individual creates specific added values for the company and the employees:

1. Shorter onboarding and qualification periods

In contrast to the “one-size-fits-all” approach, competency-based learning utilizes existing knowledge and competencies. In cases where an employee brings experience from previous employment, for example, in sales, the upcoming course on sales competency can be skipped partially or altogether. This approach permits to reduce onboarding and qualification periods significantly and spares employees from additional training measures.

This agility is the most significant advantage of competency-based learning. This approach is exciting for the digital age since people can continue to learn without having to attain completely new qualifications. Which, in turn, permits them to better adapt to the continuously changing requirements of digitalization.

2. Acceptance and motivation to learn

The acceptance and motivation of the learner are the foundation of company training. As evidence shows, both are crucial to a specific learning outcome. In this context, competency-based learning is particularly interesting for companies and employees alike. Employees can learn goal-oriented based on their needs and are no longer required to process learning contents they already know and, as a result, do not offer any added value. Based on experience, competency-based learning positively affects the acceptance and motivation to learn of employees.

3. Sustainability

Of the most dominant “challenges” within continuous education is forgetting what was learned. Content in “on-off” measures, in particular, is forgotten as early as the next day.  Competency-based learning, however, promotes the sustainable development of competencies over an extended period. The focus on learning transfer ensures that training measures are not forgotten within a short time. Employees gain permanent competency, which amiably affects their careers, but can also lastingly improve the company’s return on investment (ROI).

There are other solid reasons for engaging with competency-based learning. As with any other significant change in a learning culture, the successful introduction of competency-based learning requires proper framework conditions.

Check out our free e-book “Competency-based learning: How to master the transformation of learning for the digital age.” It addresses typical obstacles and challenges when implementing competency-based learning.

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