Skill Validation

Skill validation is the process by which a business or institution evaluates an individual’s knowledge and competencies in a particular area of expertise. Also known as validated learning, the process is often — though not always — implemented as part of a larger learning and development initiative. Generally, the skill validation process focuses on one of the following objectives:

  • Identify an individual’s knowledge or skill gaps to more effectively personalize their training. 
  • Assessing whether a candidate possesses the skills and knowledge required for a position. 
  • Ensuring that a participant in a certification program has acquired the requisite competencies. 
  • As a means of showcasing qualifications and competencies for professional development purposes. 

Training programs that could potentially benefit from a skill validation process include sales enablement, cybersecurity training, and general employee onboarding. As mentioned, certification programs also frequently include a skill validation component. If your goal is to establish yourself as a thought leader, you might also consider incorporating skill validation into your customer education initiatives.

The Skill Validation Process

Skill validation can be broken down into three distinct steps — assessment, verification, and documentation. 

1. Assessment

The participant completes a series of evaluative tasks, which can take a few different forms. 

Knowledge tasks assess what the participant knows, typically through a short multiple-choice quiz or exam. While they may also evaluate the individual’s creativity or problem-solving abilities, they’re generally less hands-on. For sales enablement training, a skill assessment might ask participants to describe the different stages of the sales funnel.

Perfomance tasks tend to be a bit more hands-on and involved, resulting in some kind of tangible output. A performance-based sales enablement assessment might require participants to develop a full-funnel outreach strategy. Additionally, these tasks may either be done individually or as part of a group.

Skill simulations are hands-on, scenario-based assessments designed to imitate actual on-the-job conditions. The participant typically must demonstrate not only their competencies but also their soft skills. Cyber ranges are one common type of skill simulation.

For general employees, they can be used to test how well a participant has absorbed best practices and attitudes around cybersecurity. For members of your IT or security team, they can be used to assess how well a participant would manage an actual cyber incident. 

2. Verification

Once the initial assessment has been completed, the results are then evaluated to ensure accuracy and validity. This could be carried out by an instructor, a third-party service provider, other employees, management, or even artificial intelligence. 

3. Documentation

Once the completed skill validation process has been verified, your business records the results. This could be as simple as making a note in a database or drafting a progress report, but may also involve certificates or badges. 

Benefits of Skill Validation

The biggest benefit of skill validation from a training perspective is that it can provide insight into weaknesses or shortcomings in your courses — it functionally allows you to evaluate your own training strategy at the same time as a trainee’s knowledge and skills. Skill validation can also improve both confidence and job satisfaction, increasing productivity and loyalty as a result. 

How to Design a Skill Validation Program

  1. Define your objective. Do you want to help employees pursue professional development, certify vendors to sell your software, or as an additional layer of assessment for training and onboarding? 
  2. Identify your core competencies. What skills are most important in the context of your training program? What about knowledge?
  3. Develop your skill validation process. How will you evaluate participants, what will you do to verify the results of that validation? 
  4. Implement analytics so you can track the effectiveness of your program and identify opportunities for optimization. 
  5. Regularly revisit and reassess your validation program’s effectiveness. 

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