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What is Competency-Based Education? A Complete Guide

In the rapidly evolving landscape of learning, there's a growing shift towards a more learner-centred approach known as Competency-Based Education (CBE). This transformative educational model prioritises mastery of skills and knowledge over traditional seat time and grading scales. At Learn Amp, we recognise the pivotal role of CBE in fostering an environment that values skill acquisition and practical application. In this article, we'll delve into the essence of CBE, its benefits, challenges, and strategies for implementation.

What is Competency-Based Education?

Competency-Based Education is an approach that allows students to advance based on their ability to master a skill or competency at their own pace regardless of environment. This method is rooted in clear, measurable, and transparent learning outcomes that empower learners to understand what is expected of them and to take responsibility for their own learning. It also builds a connection to showing the impact of learning on an individuals performance.

Key Principles of CBE

  • Learner-Centred: CBE places the student at the centre of the learning process, accommodating different learning styles and paces.
  • Mastery-Based: Progression is determined by the student's demonstration of mastery of a topic, rather than time spent in class.
  • Personalised Learning Paths: Students can customise their learning paths based on prior knowledge and goals.
  • Real-World Relevance: Competencies are designed to be applicable in real-world scenarios, making learning more meaningful and applicable.

Benefits of Competency-Based Education

  1. Flexibility and Accessibility: CBE provides flexibility in how, when, and where learning occurs, making education more accessible to a diverse range of learners.
  2. Focused Skill Development: By concentrating on mastering specific competencies, learners can develop the skills that are most relevant to their career goals.
  3. Increased Engagement and Motivation: Personalised learning paths and the ability to see tangible progress in skill mastery can increase student engagement and motivation.
  4. Efficient Learning Process: CBE allows for an efficient learning process, as learners can skip what they already know and focus on new skills.


Challenges and Considerations

While CBE offers numerous benefits, its implementation comes with challenges. These include the readiness of the business to come up with a clear framework for skills and competencies. Once ready the business also needs to map the appropriate learning materials and pathways to guide learners to skill improvement. Getting the foundations in place is key but is where the majority of the effort is.

Furthermore, businesses must ensure that competencies are aligned with industry needs and that there's a reliable method of assessing mastery.


Did you know that 64% of L&D professionals said that re-skilling the current workforce to fill skills gaps is their top priority? Read more in our blog on aligning skills to business goals

Implementing Competency-Based Education

  1. Define Clear Competencies: Start by defining clear, measurable competencies that are aligned with real-world skills and industry demands.
  2. Develop Robust Assessment Methods: Ensure that there are fair, consistent, and reliable methods for assessing competency mastery.
  3. Provide Supportive Learning Resources: Offer a range of resources and support to accommodate different learning styles and needs.
  4. Embrace Technology: Utilise technology platforms like Learn Amp to manage personalised learning paths, track progress, and facilitate mentorship and support.
  5. Foster a Culture of Continuous Improvement: Regularly review and update competencies and learning resources to ensure they remain relevant and effective.

How can Learn Amp help?

Having a platform in place to help you to manage skills and competencies can take a large amount of the effort out of implementing CBE:

  • Out of the box skills: We have over 2,000 skills out of the box to get you started
  • Roles: Map skills into roles for easier assignment
  • Skills rating scale: Learn Amp has an out of the box skills rating scale from 1-5 with descriptions. As a business you also have full control to adapt this.
  • Compare learner and manager ratings: Learners and managers can both rate in order to compare ratings and assess strengths and gaps.
  • Assessments: With quizzes you can test knowledge and exercise allow you to practically assess the application with requests for e.g. an essay or self-recording.
  • Reporting: Reports allow you to see the strengths and gaps across your business. Compare ratings of users to assess their competencies
  • Content, events and experts: Help learners to up skill by giving them access to recommended content, events and experts and tracking the outcome.
  • 1-to-1s and surveys: Check-ins can be carried out to ask people to reflect on their own skills development and discuss clear actions.


Competency-Based Education represents a significant shift from traditional educational models, focusing on the acquisition and demonstration of skills that learners need to succeed in the modern workforce. While the transition to a CBE framework poses challenges, the benefits of creating more flexible, relevant, and student-centred learning experiences are undeniable. As L&D continues to evolve, CBE offers a promising path towards a more efficient, accessible, and personalised learning environment.

At Learn Amp, we're committed to supporting your business to navigate the complexities of implementing competency-based models. Our platform is designed to facilitate the personalisation, tracking, and support necessary to make CBE a reality for learners everywhere and all of the benefits that come with this.