Competency based training and assessment focuses on the development of competencies required for effective performance in employment. Most competency standards are designed to have a broad relevance to employment across an entire industry. The objective is to have workers who are capable of applying their skills in new situations and work organisations, rather then simply confirming their competence to perform current tasks.
Competency standards are best thought of as a picture of performance that is built up from many snapshots of businesses across the industry. For this reason, the range statement for each unit of competency allows for a wide range of contexts and ways of working. Similarly, the evidence guide gives flexibility in the way assessment of competence may be carried out.
The wording of parts of the competency standards should be translated to suit a particular workplace or off-the-job provider.
The challenge for trainers and assessors in enterprises and institutions is to design delivery and assessment strategies that are relevant to their context while protecting the integrity of the competency standards and qualifications. This task is often referred to as ‘customisation’.
Customisation will normally involve four steps.
- Refer to the customisation guidelines in the relevant Training Package.
- Align the unit(s) of competency with the range of work and levels of performance expected within the particular workplace to identify a relevant job profile.
- Identify the kinds of evidence that candidates may be able to provide in their job roles that will satisfy the requirements of the standard.
- Prepare evidence plans for the candidates.
Customising a unit of competency to suit an enterprise
To illustrate how to customise a unit of competency, a unit has been selected at AQF 4 from the Frontline Management Competency Standards. This set of standards has been selected because:
- it is ‘cross industry’ and therefore not specific to a particular industry or occupation; the units require translation into an industry context before they can be related to a particular workplace or employment context
- Frontline Management Units are incorporated in high-level qualifications in many Training Packages.
The unit chosen for customisation is BSXFMI403A: Establish and manage efficient workplace relationships.
To customise this unit of competency to suit particular enterprises, it is important to first decide how this unit (at AQF 4) aligns with the levels of performance expected of different management classifications in the enterprise. Once job profiles are identified with the levels of performance expected, it will be possible to identify the kinds of evidence that managers may be able to provide as part of their normal work.
The range statement in this unit will provide general guidance. According to the chosen competency standards, frontline managers operating at AQF 4 level are normally engaged in roles in which they:
- are autonomous, working with general guidance
- may supervise and organise the work of others and guide teams
- apply some in–depth knowledge and skills to a broad range of tasks and roles using established guidelines and advice
- exercise some discretion in the planning and allocation of resources for themselves and others and the use of services and processes to meet work objectives
- solve problems requiring some complexity in the choice of possible actions and are able to cope with non–routine tasks
- operate in a relatively diverse workplace environment.
To illustrate how to customise the Unit of Competency BSXFMI403A, following are selected examples of frontline managers from enterprises in two sectors. Examples are:
- a large construction materials company in the civil construction sector
- enterprises within the retail industry that vary according to size and ownership arrangements.
Step 1: Customising the unit of competency in accordance with the requirements of the Training Package
Customisation of competency standards is actively encouraged to enable the units of competency to be used in a wide variety of contexts. In general, it is possible to:
- replace general directions, generic equipment/processes/procedures in performance criteria with enterprise specific ones
- alter the wording of the range statement and evidence guides.
In either case, the RTO must ensure the integrity of the competency standards.
Step 2: Customising the unit of competency according to the range of work and level of performance
The Frontline Management Competency Standards contain generalised statements about the range of work that managers perform and the level of performance expected of them. These statements will need to be translated into job roles and tasks that are relevant to a specific enterprise.
Table A shows examples of frontline managers at AQF 4 and their management roles in the two industry sectors.
Table A – AQF level 4 management roles in the construction and retail industries
Titles for managers
Large construction materials company
Small retail shop
Chain of retail stores
Shopping centre operation
Step 3: Identifying evidence relevant to the frontline management roles
The next step is to identify the kinds of evidence of competence that would be appropriate to the job roles and tasks of the frontline managers in the enterprise. A good place to start is to collect examples of relevant job descriptions and duty statements. Talk to people who are performing the job roles and to their supervisors. Ask them questions like:
What do the performance criteria mean in terms of your workplace?What does the range statement mean in the context of your workplace?
Analysing the relevant unit(s) in detail should assist in developing a table similar to the one presented in Table B.
Table B: Illustration of the range of evidence available in different workplaces for the unit BSXFMI403A
EVIDENCE OF COMPETENCY IN A RETAIL ORGANISATION
The candidate could provide evidence by:
EVIDENCE OF COMPETENCY IN A CIVIL CONSTRUCTION ORGANISATION
The candidate could provide evidence by:
3.1 Gather, convey and receive information and ideas
3.2 Develop trust and confidence
Step 4: Designing an evidence plan for the candidate
The next task is to design an evidence plan to show how the sources of evidence identified in Table B could be collected for a particular candidate.
–www.training.gov.au– Assessing competencies in higher qualifications, Department of Education, Training and Youth Affairs, 2001ASTD Handbook for Workplace Learning Professionals, ASTD Press, 2008