Competence can be defined as the ability of an individual to perform to a predefined standard, tasks appropriate to their position or level. Competence is also the proven ability to use knowledge, skills and personal abilities in those tasks.
Competency based training is based on the end result, rather than the process of learning. It is a learning outcomes based approach that covers knowledge, skills and competence. Competence is also defined in terms of the level of authority and autonomy of an individual.
Simplified description of levels:
Function / task
Do / Support
The focus of a competency based training system is the assessment of competence. Assessments are normally carried out in the work-place, towards the end of the learning process. The assessment is therefore of the learning outcomes. Competency standards are used as the benchmark for the assessment.
Evidence of ability and learning has to be sought directly by assessing each trainee to support the claim of competence. Often evidence is gathered together in a portfolio which an assessor evaluates using the competency standards as the benchmark.
Wildfire training and prescribed fire training for forest fires, shrub fires, grass fires, crop fires and peat fires all involve a mixture of practical skills and knowledge. The competency based training concept has been applied successfully in a number of countries around the world to support skills development for these areas.
There are many hazards and risks involved in fire management. Each organisation needs to pay particular attention to the type and intensity of training required to ensure safety points become embedded in trainees learning. All aspects of safety on the fireground are key learning outcomes.
All the stages of a vocational training cycle can be mapped against competency standards:
Identification of needs – measurement through appraisal, performance review, training needs analysis, and selfassessment using competency standards as benchmark
Training programme – planning of learning activities, to deliver the skills, knowledge and attitudes and standards expected using competency standards to support training objectives and syllabus.
Delivery of training – there are a number of options including: informal learning, attending courses, doing projects, work shadowing, coaching, mentoring, external training, internal training, training, which can all benchmark against competency standards,
Assessment – measuring performance level back in the workplace, this looks at the transfer and acquisition of skills, knowledge and ability. Measurement is against competency standards that provides the benchmark.