eBook Release: Competency-Based Learning

Increase Employee Skills Development Through Competency-Based Learning
Summary: Competency-based learning, and development, have been around for a long time. It is a fascinating and versatile concept that is not about "doing it" but "doing it correctly." This eBook will show you how to finally get it right.

Increase Employee Skills Development Through Competency-Based Learning

Competency isn't a new term. It was first defined in 1973. David McClellan, an American psychologist, is the one who came up with the definition. A competency is "each personal characteristic which—usually combined with others—allows the effective execution of a task in a given organization." Competency-based learning is all about approaching Learning and Development with a focus on the learner’s demonstration of the desired learning outcomes. Above all else, competency-based learning focuses on mastery. In other training models, learners are given a large unit of content and they are evaluated on how well they perform overall in this unit. To give an example, this usually means that a learner who has mastered 4 out of the 5 chapters of a course but still hasn’t studied the last chapter could still pass the course scoring 80% overall. With competency-based learning, progress is not allowed until each of the desired learning outcomes is achieved. One could say that it has really close ties to mastery learning.

eBook Release: Competency-Based Learning: Increase Employee Skills Development Through Competency-Based Learning
eBook Release
Competency-Based Learning: Increase Employee Skills Development Through Competency-Based Learning
Learn how to take your employees' skills to the next level with competency-based learning

There was a very interesting survey by the Association of American Colleges and Universities in conjunction with Hart Research Associates that found that almost 60% of employers believed that college graduates were not qualified for entry-level positions because they lacked the desired skills [1]. 40% of employers said that they were having immense difficulties filling entry-level positions for the same reasons. The tendency to value competencies over degrees is on the rise and will soon be dominant. This is why competency-based learning will play a key role in the future of the eLearning scene.

About The eBook

Competency-Based Learning: Increase Employee Skills Development Through Competency-Based Learning is a masterful work from Obsidian Learning, who has been helping organizations make the transition to competency-based learning for over 20 years. They share their experience while explaining the benefits but also the dangers.

The eBook begins with a little bit of history, a few definitions, and a synopsis of the reasons that make competency-based learning so important. Then the focus shifts to business, as we are introduced to a few ways that competency-based learning can induce and accelerate business growth. Later, the matter of skills gap between employees is discussed, and some solutions about bridging it are suggested. Then there is a very practical and handy piece that I particularly enjoyed, which gives 3 very realistic examples of competency-based learning along with their rationale, advantages, and disadvantages.

The next chapter highlights the dos and don’ts of designing competency-based learning programs, citing some of the most common mistakes and offering valuable advice. After that, there is an innovative guide on how to assess the skills of the participants in a competency-based learning program, which offers many pro tips and a variety of solutions. Discussing ROI would, of course, be included in such a thorough eBook, suggesting some important metrics. And finally, in order to be able to measure the success of your program, the last chapter is a 5-step plan that will help you measure and assess the development of your employees' skills.

Competency-Based Onboarding For Fortune 500

An interesting case study, among the many in this eBook, that really caught my eye is about a Fortune 500 multinational company that decided to create a new onboarding initiative focused on its top recruited talent. The need for accelerated growth of highly talented engineers and managers made all the sense in the world.

Here’s what Obsidian Learning says about this:

Since the target audience was based on the ideal employee, creating the competency map which helped pinpoint the most appropriate learning assets was no great challenge. The design and development of the competency-based onboarding program took less than 2 months. We were able to leverage roughly 60% of the content from existing materials created for the general onboarding process and created new assets such as videos, animation, and interactive online games to compensate for the unique nature of the target audience. After a successful rollout, Obsidian Learning was also tasked with creating an online application housing this program, making it 100% digital—prior to this change, many onboarding activities for top talent took place during costly, in-person workshops. This program is currently still in use.

How Can Competency-Based Learning Really Help Boost Your Business Results

This bullet list is another one of my favorite parts of the eBook, as it is concise and to-the-point. Here’s how:

  • Creating the competency map is by itself a valuable, clarifying exercise.
  • Competencies align with specific business goals.
  • CBL allows to identify specific training gaps and create targeted individual training plans.
  • It supports efficient and effective hiring, training, and career planning.
  • It makes hiring, transfer, and promotion decisions easier and more equitable.
  • Clear development plans and career paths help your organization better prepare for future needs.


This eBook is a hands-down, beginner-to-expert, crash course on competency-based learning. It is thorough, informative, easy to read, and backed by the experience of one of the most important companies in the field of competency-based learning. Download Competency-Based Learning: Increase Employee Skills Development Through Competency-Based Learning and transform the way your employees develop their skills.


[1] Employers Judge Recent Graduates Ill-Prepared for Today’s Workplace, Endorse Broad and Project-Based Learning as Best Preparation for Career Opportunity and Long-Term Success

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