Competencies of a job holder need to be assessed against a defined standard to ensure validation. ‘Competency standards’ provide a common definition of a competency, with its minimum requirements. Competency standards are an integral part of the process to qualify and certify personnel as being competent. They offer significant benefits to management as they provide objective evidence of personnel competence, set measurable standards of performance, facilitate people progression, and assist in personnel appraisals.
A competency standard must specify the level of competency for example:
Level 1: the individual is able to carry out work with supervision from someone more proficient.
Level 2: the individual is able to carry out work without supervision from someone more proficient.
Level 3: the individual is able to train and assess others.
The levels can then specify the required skills, knowledge, and experience, requirements. A review of published competency levels and descriptions concluded that three levels are both practical and convenient: ‘foundation’, ‘practitioner’, and ‘expert’.
Additionally, an ‘awareness’ level can be used as an entry level into these three levels of competency. These increasing competency levels correspond with increasing job responsibilities, and cognitive characteristics.
The Competency Standards Manual for Pipeline Integrity lists and defines 42 competencies, at various levels.