Technical Job Competencies

Technical job competencies are specific knowledge, skills, abilities and other attributes needed for success in a particular industry or occupation. The U.S. Department of Labor and individual industry-related networks and associations have worked to identify broad technical job competencies required for success.  Knowledge of these competencies is essential so that workforce development programs and other training providers can focus their curriculum development on activities that will most help participants to achieve basic or advanced competency levels. It can also help providers design appropriate assessments to measure participant competency at the beginning of program services, after services and at checkpoints along the way.

More and more emphasis is now being placed on industry-based certifications, requiring participants to pass a test that will help employers know that they have the skills and knowledge needed for a particular industry or occupation. Wherever possible, workforce programs should work closely with employers to identify certifications that are relevant to targeted industries and appropriate for the skill level of participants they serve. In designing and delivering curriculum to help participants achieve certifications, programs should monitor these types of indicators:

  • Of those participants beginning training in an area of certification, what is the completion rate?
  • Where practice tests are available during the training or afterward, what is the “pass rate” for participants taking the practice test?
  • Of those who take the test required for certification, what percentage pass the test? What percentage pass it the first time?
  • Of those who acquire the certification, what percentage are actually employed in a related industry or occupation?

Even if programs are not preparing participants for industry-based certifications, it is still important to get good employer feedback to identify the technical skills most needed in a particular industry and to find ways to measure if participants can demonstrate those skills in a work-like setting.  


Sources Cited

Career One Stop. (2011). Industry Competency Models. Retrieved 12/12/11 at 

Other Resources

This US Department of Labor site provides good lists of competencies in a variety of work areas. These lists can be used as the basis for assessment tools to measure the degree to which a participant has accomplished various competencies.