Competency framework examples and uses

Diagram showing relationship of skills to training, certifications etc

Competency or skills frameworks provide a common vocabulary to use across and within organisations. They help to set expectations around job roles, create a structure for personal development, and provide a basis for certifications to demonstrate capability.

Many organisations around the world are adopting this approach. They may use independent industry standards such as SfIA (for Information Technology), CIPD’s People Profession Map (for Human Resources), or the CIEEM competency framework for ecologists. Or they may choose to create their own frameworks to meet their needs.

A skills framework contains a set of skills for a particular domain of practice. Each skill has three main elements:

  1. A unique identifier - so that it’s possible to consistently map other items, such as job descriptions or training, to a particular skill
  2. A descriptor - which outlines what a person can do who has that skill
  3. One or more categories - to group together skills in similar areas

Uses of skills frameworks

Skills frameworks are used by different people in different ways.

An individual or their line manager might use the skills framework as an assessment tool. They will identify where there are areas for personal development, and then look for training opportunities which are mapped to those skills.

A training manager might use the skills framework to find courses or certifications for particular sets of skills.

A hiring manager might use the skills framework to identify the skills they need for their team or a new project.

A senior manager might use the framework to develop a strategy for improving skills across their organisation.

A regulatory body might use the skills framework to identify which skills are essential for particular roles.

A certification body might use the framework to map their certifications for individuals to specific sets of skills.

A training organisation might use the framework to see where there are gaps in their training provision.