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Adaptive learning: The importance of competency frameworks

Your business depends on what your staff are able to do. For your organisation to perform at its best, therefore, proper training is indispensable. Prioritising this is even more important as we see the emergence of an increasingly mobile workforce and the rise of new sectors.


Making sure that the right employees receive the right training isn’t always easy, though. That’s why we recommend all businesses develop and implement a competency framework to keep track of the skills you need to thrive. In this article, we’ll go into greater detail on how to do exactly that, and show you the role adaptive learning can play in speeding up the training process.


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What is a competency framework?

A competency framework is a document detailing the skills and behaviours required for each position within an organisation. This may also be known as a skills framework or as a competency matrix.


The skills detailed in a competency framework are varied. It may indicate a required level of knowledge for a given role, and encompasses both technical know-how and interpersonal, or ‘soft’ skills. Information will be provided regarding the competencies required for each role within the organisation, and will cover both day-to-day tasks and a range of situations that need to be handled, from the easiest to the most challenging.


Using a competency framework helps your organisation to retain a competitive edge by ensuring you have all of the skills you require to succeed. It’s a crucial document to have if you want to keep up with today’s constantly evolving market.


Competency frameworks and adaptive learning


Why use a competency framework?

We’ve already covered some of the advantages of using a competency framework. You might not realise, however, just how this document will come in handy.


Firstly, having a competency framework to hand is useful when assessing the skills present within your organisation. As a team, you can work out the abilities that your team already has as well as those that need to be obtained so that you can successfully execute your strategies and meet your goals.


More specifically, a competency framework is key when creating an adaptive learning course. Your human resources department may use it, for example, to map out new courses or refine existing programmes. Meanwhile, it can also help you to identify which employees could be good candidates for promotions or lateral moves within the business.


Creating a competency framework and implementing it via an LMS

Step-by-step guide

Putting together a competency framework is a process that requires time and attention—but the benefits it brings mean it’s worth the investment of your time. The document itself will typically take the form of a table, and involves following these six steps:


  • First, define the objectives you want to achieve by creating the framework
  • List the roles to be included
  • Compose a team involving employees from across all the relevant departments or those with knowledge of the roles (e.g., HR professionals and direct managers)
  • Identify the skills required for each role
  • Categorise these skills into three groups: knowledge-based, functional and personal
  • Determine the level of expertise necessary for each role

Managing your competency framework on an LMS

Once you know what the content of your competency framework will look like, you’ll need to have it in a place where you can actually use it—a learning management system, such as Rise Up. There are two ways to accomplish this: create it using the platform itself, or import an existing framework created in Excel.


A major benefit of using an LMS for this purpose is that it is both flexible and easy for stakeholders to use. You can choose at any point to manage employee skills using your LMS or not, and can also group these skills by theme, allowing for better readability.


With the competency framework in place, you can link each training course on your LMS to one or more skills. For example, you might group a set of modules under the theme of ‘management’. When an employee is undergoing management training, you can then simply select this theme and assign these modules to them in a few clicks. All of this makes it easier than ever to manage your training programmes.


Adaptive learning and competency frameworks


What is adaptive learning? Adaptive learning is an approach to training that is centred around personalisation. Depending on the type of adaptive learning used, each learner’s course will vary in terms of modules, content, educational formats and pace. These modifications are based on data about the learner themselves, including their job role, skill level and behaviour while using an LMS. This process relies on tools such as artificial intelligence and machine learning.


Thanks to adaptive learning, it’s possible to automatically offer every employee a tailor-made training course. This helps to make the training process more streamlined and efficient, saving time and money for your business and ensuring that your staff gain new skills more quickly.


The importance of competency frameworks in creating adaptive learning courses


What role do competency frameworks play in adaptive learning?

The key purpose of a competency framework in the context of adaptive learning is to facilitate skill gap analysis. In other words, it can help your team to work out which skills are already present in your business, and which need to be acquired.

Here, training can be thought of as the means by which any missing skills can be gained. Adaptive learning is a particularly interesting tool to use to achieve this. We’ll quickly walk through how it slots into the process.


After you’ve created your framework, the first step is to determine where each employee falls in terms of their skill set. What abilities do they already have, and which ones do they need in order to succeed in their role? A few different methods can be used to ascertain this, including self-assessments, peer appraisals (e.g., via interviews), and questionnaires for employees to complete.


Now that you’ve determined each employee’s current and desired skills, it’s simply a matter of getting them from point A to point B. This is where adaptive learning comes into play. Based on the data collected about each individual, it will automatically draw up a training plan that will help them to achieve their goals as quickly and efficiently as possible.


By combining your competency framework with the power of adaptive learning, you can help to boost employee motivation levels and increase engagement amongst your team. Meanwhile, your staff will benefit from training that meets their needs both in terms of content and format. It’s a win-win scenario, and one which ultimately results in optimal performance for your entire training programme.


Beyond competency frameworks

Having a competency framework in place can help to give your training department a huge boost—but it doesn’t need to stop there. Indeed, you can use this as a jumping-off point to create a broader training framework for your business.


The idea behind a training framework is to gauge the effectiveness of particular modules and courses. It is effectively a record of which skills are targeted by different training materials and the skill level that can be attained by completing them, and serves as a useful guide for those involved in creating training courses. With both a competency and a training framework in place, you can then move onto analysing each employee’s skill gap and develop personalised training just for them.


The importance of a competency framework cannot be overstated here. It lies at the foundations of any truly effective training programme, and is a must if you wish to harness the power of adaptive learning. If you’re planning on investing in an LMS, then a competency framework means you can truly get the most out of it.


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