Competency-based training attempts to break away from the regularly scheduled classroom model, where students study the same subject matter at the same speed in a cohort of fellow students. It is performance and standards-based and related to realistic workplace practices.
Although competency-based training does not necessarily imply student exposure to real workplaces, its objective to prepare learners more effectively for the labour market by taking into account the requirements of the industry strongly suggests the use of one or the other format of work-based learning.
EU member States and social partners committed themselves in the Bruges Communiqué, the European agenda for cooperation in vocational education and training (VET), to the objective of including work-based learning in all initial VET courses.
Definition: Acquisition of knowledge and skills through carrying out – and reflecting on – tasks in a vocational context, either at the workplace (such as alterance training) or in a VET institution (CEDEFOP).
Students learn by observing and/or actually doing real work. Learning in the workplace supports learning in the classroom and promotes the development of broad transferable skills.
Work-based learning assists in the development of students’ workplace awareness. It helps build the skills required for specific occupations by exposing students to various aspects of an industry and the multiple career options available at a workplace.
Work-based learning is often undertaken in conjunction with classroom learning and may take the form of work placements, work experience, workplace mentoring, instruction in general workplace competencies and broad instruction in all aspects of industry.
Incorporating work-based learning into initial VET requires coordination between school-based and work-based instruction – though the share of time spent in the different venues will vary from one model to another.