Performanced Based Competency Standards
Performance based competency standards, also called occupational competency standards, are widely used throughout the world and have been developed within the context of government endorsed standards and qualifications frameworks in Australia (Department of Education, Science and Training), New Zealand (New Zealand Qualifications Authority), South Africa (South African Qualifications Authority), and the United Kingdom (Qualifications and Curriculum Authority). Although all of these approaches are focused primarily on performance based competency assessment, some approaches do include aspects of attribute based competency assessment.
Perfomance based competency standards typically address at least the following two questions:
- What is usually done in this occupation, profession, or role by competent performers?
- What standard of performance is usually considered acceptable to infer competence?
In the GAPPS standards, these questions are answered by defining:
Units of Competency
A Unit of Competency defines a broad area of professional or occupational performance that is meaningful to practitioners and which is demonstrated by individuals in the workplace. The GAPPS Level 1 framework includes five Units of Competency while GAPPS Level 2 includes six.
Elements of Competency
Elements of Competency describe the key components of work performance within a Unit. They describe what is done by individuals in the workplace but do not prescribe how the work is done. For example, project managers must “define risks and risk responses for the project,” but they can do it themselves or delegate the work to others. In addition, there are many different tools and techniques that they could use. Each Unit within the GAPPS framework has 3-6 Elements.
Performance Criteria set out the type and/or level of performance required to demonstrate competence. They describe observable results and/or actions in the workplace from which competent performance can be inferred. In the GAPPS framework, Performance Criteria can be satisfied in many different ways; there are no mandatory approaches, tools, or methodologies.
Range Statements help to ensure consistent interpretation of the Elements and the Performance Criteria by expanding on critical or significant aspects of them to enable consistent application in different contexts. Where the Range Statements contain lists, the lists are generally illustrative and not exhaustive.
The Performance Criteria in this document focus on threshold performance — demonstration of the ability to do something at a standard considered acceptable in the workplace. They do not measure superior performance — what the best project managers do. Superior performers should, however, be able to satisfy the threshold criteria without difficulty.
The GAPPS standards include the minimum number of Performance Criteria needed to infer competence. As a result, a candidate must satisfy all of the Performance Criteria in the applicable Units in order to be viewed as competent. In addition, the Performance Criteria represent different levels of detail. The number of Performance Criteria in a Unit or Element is not proportional to the amount of time or effort that a project manager must spend in that area to be viewed as competent.