Dimensions of competency

Dimensions are part of the broad concept of competency, which includes all aspects of work performance as represented by: [1]

  • Task skills
  • Task management skills
  • Contingency management skills
  • Job/role environment skills.

Task skills

The ability to perform the task. [1]

A unit of competency describe elements of competency and performance criteria. These have been developed and endorsed by industry to describe the expected performance of work tasks or activities.

Task management skills

The ability to manage a range of tasks to complete work requirements. [1]

An occupation or job will require a worker to perform a range of work tasks and activities. They will need to manage their work to get things done.

  • Prioritise tasks
  • Integrate tasks
  • Plan tasks
  • Organise tasks.

Contingency management skills

The ability to respond to irregularities and break downs in routine. [1]

Not everything in a workplace goes according to plan. Accidents occur. Errors and mistakes occur. Non-standard things happen. Workers require a breath and depth of knowledge, and problem solving skills to take action when irregularities and break downs in routine occur.

Job/role environment skills

The ability to deal with responsibilities and expectations of the workplace. [1]

Ideally, a worker must meet performance standards and workplace expectations. This including working with others, such as: managers, supervisors, team leaders, colleagues, customers, clients, suppliers, etc.

Are there 4 or 5 dimensions of competency ?

If we search Google for ‘The 5th Dimension’ we will find information about the American popular music vocal group. They had many hit songs during the 1960s and 1970s. But what about the dimensions of competency in the Australian VET system? How many are there? And does it really matter?

These questions got me thinking about how much I detest the ‘dimensions of competency’ concept. It was useful in 1993 when Australia was implementing its ‘new competency-based training system’. At that time, it was necessary to educate people in the ‘new concept’ of competencies and how it differed from a curriculum-based approach.

I don’t think the dimensions of competency matter anymore to the ‘everyday’ trainer and assessor. I believe that Training Package developers build the dimensions of competency into each unit of competency, as required. This includes considering how the ability to transfer skills and knowledge to new situations and environments are to be addressed. Australia has a mature VET system based on more than 20 years’ experience of developing Training Packages. Many new trainers and assessors need a more contemporary view about understanding and using competency standards.

What are the dimensions of competency?

Dimensions of competency are part of the broad concept of competency, which includes all aspects of work performance as represented by: [1]

  • Task skills
  • Task management skills
  • Contingency management skills
  • Job/role environment skills.

Some people like to add a fifth dimension: Transfer skills.

Why do we still talk about the dimensions of competency?

When I did a Google search for the dimension of competency, I was presented with a limited or narrow range of results. Nothing seemed credible or relevant. I then searched the following reputable sources of VET information but could not find the term ‘dimensions of competency’:

  • ASQA website [2]
  • ASQA’s Users’ Guide to the Standards [3]
  • ASQA’s Guide to developing assessment tools [4]
  • Government of Western Australia, Department of Training and Workforce Development: Designing assessment tools for quality outcomes in VET, 4th Edition 2013 [5].

I think the only reason we still talk about the dimensions of competency is because it is listed as knowledge evidence item for two TAE units of competency:

  • TAEDES402 Use training packages and accredited courses to meet client needs
  • TAEASS502 Design and develop assessment tools.

This is not a good enough reason for regurgitating this unnecessary concept in today’s VET system. I think it is time to remove the dimensions of competency from the TAEASS502 unit.

I am an experience developer of training and assessment materials. I am about to make a confession. I have never said to myself, “How am I going to incorporate the dimensions of competency”. I am also an experience trainer of trainers. I have lost count about how many Certificate IV in Training and Assessment (TAA40104, TAE40110 and TAE40116) courses I have delivered over the past 15 years. I think we should remove this antiquated concept of dimensions out of the Certificate IV in Training and Assessment. However, the ‘everyday’ trainer and assessor does need the ability to read, understand and contextualise units.

What do I think trainers and assessors need to know?

I think trainers and assessors need to know the following:

  • Definition of competency
  • Definition of assessment
  • Principles of assessment
  • Rules of evidence.

The second sentence of the definition of competency covers what some people call the fifth dimension of competency:

the ability to transfer and apply skills and knowledge to new situations and environments.”

Also, I think trainers and assessor need to know how to read, interpret and contextualise competency standards. This requires a person to understand the structure and intent of the following:

  • Unit application
  • Elements and performance criteria
  • Foundation skills
  • Performance evidence
  • Knowledge evidence
  • Assessment conditions.

In conclusion

To answer the question , ‘Are there 4 or 5 dimensions of competency ? There are 4 dimensions. But whether there is 4 or 5, it is purely academic. Some people may disagree with me. That is okay. I am more pragmatic than academic.

Since 1997, Training Package developers have been incorporating the dimensions of competency into the units of competency.

Unfortunately, if you are studying for your TAE40116 or TAE40122 Certificate IV in Training and Assessment qualification, you will still need to know something about the these dimensions of competency.

On a positive note, the dimensions of competency remind us that a safe and productive worker must do more than focus on performing one task at a time. And when irregularities and break downs in routine occur, they must be able to respond.

References

[1] https://www.voced.edu.au/content/glossary-term-dimensions-competency#targetText=Dimensions%20are%20part%20of%20the,and%20job%2Frole%20environment%20skills. accessed 28 August 2019

[2] https://www.asqa.gov.au/ accessed 25 October 2019

[3] https://www.asqa.gov.au/standards accessed 25 October 2019

[4] https://www.asqa.gov.au/sites/g/files/net3521/f/Guide_to_developing_assessment_tools.pdf accessed 25 October 2019

Do you need help with your TAE studies?

Are you a doing the TAE40116 or TAE40122 Certificate IV in Training and Assessment, and are you struggling with your studies? Do you want help with your TAE40116 or TAE40122 studies?

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