Qualification vs. Competence

Altaf Shaikh, CEO Competency Plus


Is fair to make the assumption that if an individual has gained a qualification, usually in the form of a certificate or some kind of ceremonial token, that they are proficient and trusted to undertake a particular role or responsibility? In short, does it make them immediately competent?

While training and associated qualifications are imperative as the input, by which someone would obtain and understand the initial subject matter, little, if no regard is given to the output, the evidence that is produced by demonstrating proficiency in a given job role or discipline.

If you’ve passed a test, does it make you an expert? Does it make you trustworthy in environments and industries that are riddled with potential lawsuits and liability?

Would you hand a new driver who has just passed their test the keys to your expensive (relative) car for a celebratory drive, unsupervised?

Would you put your newly qualified colleagues in a safety critical environment, such as an energy platform, which essentially is a floating bomb in the wrong hands, or to service your most treasured clients, who make up giant percentages of your annual revenue?

Do they need to learn the ropes first and become competent?

Unfortunately, Qualification does not always prove competence, which can regrettably lead to mistakes, that lead to reputational damage and the demise of an organisation, in a flash, not to mention the monetary implications.

There is no question that qualifications have their place in providing an important foundation for gaining initial skills, knowledge and understanding, but perhaps it's time for organisations to also prioritise ongoing workplace assessment to allow individuals to demonstrate that they continue to prove their competence in the workplace.

Would you agree?