Do Your Employees Have the Right Stuff?

Using Competency Models in Strategic Human Resource Management
By: Michael P. James, J.D., M.B.A.

Human Resource Management Professionals:

Have you been asked to complete a skill or competency analysis for employees in your organization? Are you in charge of evaluating or designing a talent/knowledge-based compensation system? Would you like to create training and certification programs to ensure that employees possess the skills required for the positions they hold in your company? These responsibilities can be overwhelming, yet they are also critical to the success of your organization. Where should you start?

I recommend that you begin each of these projects by examining the competency models developed by the Employment and Training Administration (ETA). The ETA works with business and industry leaders, educators, economic developers and public workforce investment professionals to create competency models that outline the skills and competencies required for workplace success. Each model contains a number of elements to help you accomplish your skill/competency-based project. First, the models offer a detailed account of each competency determined to be relevant to the industry. Second, the models provide descriptions of the activities and/or behaviors associated with each competency. Finally, the models are visually presented in a pyramid structure divided into tiers and blocks. The tiers are categorized into the following broad competency areas, as read from the bottom of the structure to the top: Personal; Foundational; Industry; and Occupation. Within each tier, there are a number of blocks, each representing a different skill set. Ultimately, the ETA’s competency models may offer valuable guidance and potentially serve as a guidepost for external alignment with competitors in your industry.

Currently, the ETA offers 19 competency models based on the following industries:

Advanced Manufacturing; Aerospace; Automation; Bioscience; Construction – Commercial; Construction – Heavy; Construction – Residential; Energy; Entrepreneurship; Financial Services; Geospatial Technology; Health: Electronic Health Records; Hospitality/Hotel and Lodging; Information Technology; Long-term Care, Supports, and Services; Mechatronics; Retail; Transportation; and Water Sector.

Do you need assistance developing a customized competency model for your organization or business? Contact Michael James to discuss and construct a competency structure that is aligned with your organizational and human resource objectives and strategies.  Michael James, an attorney at Fraser Trebilcock Davis & Dunlap, P.C., handles all matters related to business law, employment law and health care law and represents clients in complex commercial and civil litigations. For more information, you can contact Michael at, (517) 377-0823 or

*Article reposted with author’s permission.

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