March 8, 2016

Competency-based training is focused on demonstrable skills that are needed to successfully perform tasks for a given job, regardless of the position, industry or profession. And wouldn’t you know it? The most effective way of describing a job is by saying what the job does.

One of the best ways to methodically say what the job does is to use a process called Job Task Analysis (JTA).

 The JTA process is based on some fundamental principles:

  • The qualifications, testing and performance expectations for a given job must be clearly based on valid job requirements

  • Every task requires some combination of identifiable Knowledge, Skills and Abilities (KSAs)

  • Those who are actually doing and directly supervising a given job are in the best position to understand its requirements and to describe it

Job Task Analysis (JTA) is not only used to create a training program, but it is also used to create accurate and valid job descriptions. Because JTA defines the required knowledge, skills and abilities (KSAs) for job performance, it is often the basis of a checklist of mandatory demonstrated requirements for recruiting.

In terms of a training program, JTA breaks the course content out into manageable blocks for both the instructor and the learner.

 The JTA process relies on subject matter experts (SMEs) to determine which tasks are critical and essential to a given job – the ones that determine employment and training requirements. SMEs can be people who are working in the job, or can be supervisors and managers who directly interact with the job, or a combination of both.

Critical and Essential Tasks

 A critical or essential task (or job requirement) is usually one that is either frequently performed, or is one that has potentially serious consequences from not being performed properly.

When training programs are developed from JTAs, an addition aspect is very helpful to include: ‘when learned’. This points out the both the skillset and the level of competency required for different stages of employment and the training that might be associated with each stage. For example: entry-level orientation training, continuing education or on-the-job training, and specialized after-hire training.

The JTA process can very formal and detailed. Ultimately, you end up with a list of critical and essential tasks for a given job that can be broken out into a number of different areas:

  1. Basic Entry Level Requirements: the fundamental knowledge skills and abilities (KSAs)
  2. Medical Standards: some jobs create risk and require physical skills (for example airline pilot, police, firefighter)
  3. Job Descriptions: the necessary qualifications, desired attributes and working conditions
  4. Basic Work Requirements: the minimal performance standards
  5. Training Curricula: valid, job-related content

To be continued...next up: Job Task Analysis 101

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