According to Motivis Learning, only 11 percent of employers believe recent college graduates are effective employees. What’s more, jobs today “require more than 924 unique skill sets to meet demand, compared to just 178 in 2009.”

What’s a training organization to do?

Motivis Learning and Learnosity recently announced a partnership “to power personalized learning and skills development” to address this problem. Using competency-based skills assessments, the companies believe, will enable organizations to hire and develop employees “based on demonstrated mastery of core competencies rather than on academic credentials alone.” According to Learnosity co-founder and CEO Gavin Cooney, assessing learners based on actual skills rather than whether they’ve memorized content provides a more accurate picture of whether they will succeed on the job.

What’s more, by using technology, organizations can personalize competency-based assessments to develop individualized learning paths. This adaptive learning has been shown to improve retention, increase engagement and support a positive return on investment. Starting at onboarding and continuing throughout an employee’s tenure at the organization, training managers can use competency-based training and assessments to develop personalized career paths with algorithms that automatically recommend review and new content as learners progress through training.

For example, according to Cooney, one of Learnosity’s clients (a large tech company) uses competency-based assessments during onboarding to “identify their new employees’ raw talents [and] develop career progression plans as appropriate.” This process helps the company “provide a level playing field for all new starters.”

Defining and Measuring Competencies

Competency models typically include three elements: specific competencies and definitions of those competencies, descriptions of the behaviors that demonstrate them, and a diagram of the model. The most effective models link competencies to the organization’s strategic goals.

Halogen Software recommends identifying competencies that “embody or represent your organizational culture,” are necessary for success or leadership in the industry, support your organization’s strategic goals, and differentiate your organization from your competitors. Additionally, more than four to six competencies can make the model ineffective and “dilute your efforts.”

Using Technology to Assess Competencies

XanEdu recommends making sure your learning platform enables you to embed assessment activities within content. The platform should support multiple types of questions rather than “simple, unengaging, multiple choice questions that provide little insight about your learners,” and provide built-in reporting for both training managers and learners to understand strengths and weaknesses as learners progress through training.

However, notes [citation], “technology shouldn’t be the main driver behind an item’s development.” In other words, don’t use technology for technology’s sake. Without the right content and instructional design, the platform “turns into wasted potential.”

The best assessments, according to Barry Stern and Sheila Rioux of DDI, “go well beyond typical knowledge checks to become a continuous feed of behavioral assessments, insights gleaned from others and real-time feedback from on-the-job application.” These assessments help learners pinpoint where they need more training, and as the platform learns about each employee, it becomes better at making “meaningful, personalized recommendations” to fuel improved learning.

“According to Jeffrey Bleich, a former U.S. ambassador to Australia, traditional training will barely last 10 years in the modern workplace,” says Cooney. “As a result, employees are looking to upskill continuously, and technology allows them to do that by offering greater personalization, flexibility and insight.” By developing competencies that are aligned with organizational strategy and using technology to develop and measure those competencies, organizations can support improved talent development and better outcomes.