Competency is the ability to perform a task, in a job or occupation to the required standards. It is therefore an essential element of high labour productivity. Economists have maintained that increasing labour productivity is the key to sustained economic and social development.
At any level of technology, workers of course need to acquire the functional competencies in order to perform a task to required standards in their jobs or occupations. In addition, generic competencies which are applicable to a range of jobs or occupations are in demand by employers with a progressive workforce in mind. This is true of all occupations whether in the agriculture, industry or service sectors.
Many key competencies have been suggested by academics and practitioners. They are spelled out under various headings such as Basic, Generic and Specific competencies. The acronym ‘COMPETENT’ would perhaps describe in a nutshell, the most needed competencies:-
Communication & Cooperation Competency-Ability to communicate and cooperate with people in a constructive way.
Organizational Competency-Ability to organize and coordinate work and group activities.
Methodological Competency- Ability to apply appropriate procedures to assigned tasks.
Participatory Competency- Ability to work in a team, take decisions and assume responsibility.
Environmental Competency- Ability to comply with environmental requirements.
Teaching & Learning Competency- Ability to impart knowledge and skills as well as acquire new knowledge and skills.
Ethical Competency- Ability and willingness to observe professional and occupational ethics.
Negotiation Competency- Ability to negotiate in resolving conflict situations or solving problems at work.
Technical Competency- Mastery of the task and content of the work and the knowledge and skills necessary to perform it.
Given of course, there may be some other competencies, for example Social Competencies, which may be added to the above list.
The ‘level’ of the required competencies would vary with the type and hierarchy of the jobs or occupations in the organization, from semi- skilled workers up the scale to management level personnel.
Training and certification based on competency standards can ensure that the worker has the necessary knowledge, skills and abilities required for adequate performance in the job or occupation concerned.
Acquiring technical competency, particularly in occupations that require a range of ‘hands-on’ performance, entails not just knowing how to do the job (as can be learned during a demonstration of the job by a skilled person or Instructor) but an adequate period of practice either on-the- job or in a simulated situation under supervision of an Instructor, till the practical skills are developed to the level required. It may also involve, after the completion of the training, a period of actual performance ‘on-the-job’ under supervision. Training should also include the ‘generic skills’ which are required   for adequate performance in the occupation at the competency level concerned.
Employers will benefit by employing trained and/or certified COMPETENT workers through enhanced productivity of labour  and  improved quality of their products or services. At the same time by being certified as COMPETENT, workers can enhance their own employability, incomes and upward mobility.

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