• In: Training | On: Mar 4, 2021

The Competence Loop

The Competence Loop

At Wilkinson Coutts, we are often asked whether a training course “will make an individual competent in the subject matter?” Another popular question is, will a training course provide the competency required in a specific topic.

Often followed by the question “what is the difference between competence and competency and where does training fit into all of this”.

For inspection companies and owner users alike, competency and competence shouldn’t be unfamiliar terminology although the two terms are often confused. After all, regular audits are completed by the accrediting authorities, often focusing on competency rather than competence records. Training is often necessary to meet competency requirements. One of the critical points is the staff’s competence and, more importantly, how that competence is measured and recorded in the workplace.

As a training company, we know full well that completing a course and getting a certification means that the person has the necessary skills, knowledge and understanding to do the job.  However, to ensure that person is competent, competence is verified by assessing and monitoring an individual’s ability to do their job role to an in-house or industry standard. Some “hands-on” job roles are required to take “trade tests” which validates an individual’s competence.

For roles that require complex problem solving and the production of reports, competence can be achieved by conducting ongoing assessments periodically to measure the quality of that person’s work product against in-house or industry standards and therefore identify the level of competence and help to identify any gaps necessary to ensure that person remains competent in their role.

To ensure that we weren’t being biased, we decided to team up with the subject matter experts in competence management and contacted Competency Plus and asked for their view on the approach from qualified to competent.

Here’s what they had to say.

For decades many organisations, regardless of industry sector, have regarded training and qualifications awarded as a way to validate an individual’s competence.

The reality is that there is a loop that needs closing. Training is imperative and imparts essential input in the form of knowledge and understanding, and the training is validated through examination. But how is the application of that training validated in the workplace?

Surely, some form of “on the job” assessment is necessary.

If training and qualifications are seen as the input, then competence cannot be claimed unless that input is measured and evidenced in the workplace against an industry or in-house standard. This can be achieved by formal assessment by an industry expert, in-house or online.

If training is the input to meet competency requirements, there needs to be a robust mechanism to measure and assess an individual’s competence in the workplace, through formal assessment of their work product (output).

Wilkinson Coutts, who provide the input, have teamed up with Competency Plus, an organisation that specialises in embedding robust competence assessment strategies within organisations. Their cloud-based solution offers the capability to have online assessments that can be reviewed remotely, reducing overhead and provide necessary assurance.

Altaf Shaikh, Managing Director of Competency Plus stated:

“The rationale behind the organisation’s name is that we look beyond Competency; hence Plus in our name.”

He continued to say “The time is right for organisations to embrace digital transformation and get with the times in the way they manage competence, stepping away from paper-based processes. We offer online logbooks and a repository to hold competence records, certificates, qualifications, mentoring and review forms all in one place, accessible from the cloud.”

Competency Plus’s tried and tested methodology provides the necessary assurance and meets the stringent competence requirements for ISO: 9001, UKAS 17020:2012, DNV, and Client audits.