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Build a Model Tool

Build a Model General Instructions

Competency models identify the knowledge, skills, and abilities necessary to successfully perform critical work functions in an industry or occupation. The Competency Model Clearinghouse offers the Building Blocks for Competency Models and the Build a Competency Model Tool to guide you through the creation of a competency model for your industry. This tool will enable you to create materials that assist businesses, educators, and workforce professionals in identifying the skills needed for success in 21st century careers.

Building Blocks for Competency Models
The Building Blocks for Competency Models consist of a set of "building blocks" for competency model development. These "building blocks" are arranged in nine tiers with each tier containing a set of related competencies. The arrangement of the tiers in a pyramidal shape represents the increasing level of specificity and specialization of content. As a user moves up through the various tiers of the model, the competencies become specific to certain industries and/or occupations. The nine tiers are grouped into three categories:

  • Occupation-Related Competencies
    • Tier 9 – Management Competencies
    • Tier 8 – Occupation-Specific Requirements
    • Tier 7 – Occupation-Specific Technical Competencies
    • Tier 6 – Occupation-Specific Knowledge Competencies
  • Industry-Related Competencies
    • Tier 5 – Industry-Sector Technical Competencies
    • Tier 4 – Industry-Wide Technical Competencies
  • Foundational Competencies
    • Tier 3 – Workplace Competencies
    • Tier 2 – Academic Competencies
    • Tier 1 – Personal Effectiveness Competencies

Building Blocks Pyramid

Foundational Competencies
At the base of the model, Tiers 1 through 3 represent competencies that provide the foundation for success in school and in the world of work. Foundational competencies are essential to a large number of occupations and industries. Employers have identified a link between foundational competencies and job performance and have also discovered that foundational competencies are a prerequisite for workers to learn industry-specific skills.

Industry-Related Competencies
The competencies shown on Tiers 4 and 5 are referred to as Industry Competencies and are specific to an industry or industry sector.

Occupation-Related Competencies
The competencies on Tiers 6, 7, 8, and 9 are referred to as Occupational Competencies. Occupational competency models are frequently developed to define performance in a workplace, to design competency-based curriculum, or to articulate the requirements for an occupational credential such as a license or certification.

The Build a Competency Model Tool enables you to build a competency model for your industry from Tier 1 (Personal Effectiveness Competencies) through Tier 5 (Industry-Sector Technical Competencies).

How to Get Started
Before you begin building a competency model, you will be required to create an account by establishing a User Name and password. Your account lets you save your competency models so you can build, revise, or edit them at your convenience.

The competency models you create will not be shared with the public or other users. Please see our Privacy Policy for more details regarding how the information we collect is used and safeguarded.

Build a Competency Model Tool Overview
The Build a Competency Model Tool enables you to build industry competency models that can serve as the foundation for important human resource functions such as recruitment and hiring, training and development, career planning, and performance management.

The tool requires you to choose a competency framework to guide model development. The competency model frameworks contain competencies for you to review and possibly incorporate at each tier of your industry competency model. You will be asked to choose which model(s) you would like to use to build from:

  • a pre-existing industry model,
  • the generic building blocks model, and/or
  • a customized model you had previously built and saved.

You may choose up to three models as your starting point.

The industry model frameworks are based on the Building Blocks Model, but have been modified to represent particular industries. Subject matter experts within industries have worked together to develop foundational (Tiers 1-3), industry-wide (Tier 4), and in some cases, industry-sector (Tier 5) competencies for the industry.

If no industry model exists for the industry for which you are developing your competency model, you should select the generic Building Blocks Model. The generic Building Blocks Model was developed to apply to all occupations, regardless of industry. As such, the generic model competencies are broadly focused and may require editing to make them reflect your industry. In fact, all existing model frameworks can be edited in the tool to reflect your particular needs.

The industry models contain up to five tiers of competencies that represent the knowledge, skills, and abilities essential for successful performance in the industry or occupation represented by the model. You are encouraged to become familiar with the structure and content of the Building Blocks Model and relevant industry models before you begin building your model. The Building Blocks Model and industry models are available for your review in the "Industry Models" section of the Web site.

Once you have built a model, you can use this customized model as the starting point for future models.

Building Your Model
Once you have chosen your model framework(s), you will need to build the individual tiers of your model. The development of each tier is a separate step in the tool. When you begin building each tier, take time to review the competencies and key behaviors associated with your chosen model framework(s) that are listed on the screen. You should think about whether the competencies are appropriate for your industry and whether the key behaviors adequately describe the relevant activities.

Once you have evaluated the information provided, you are ready to begin selecting, revising, and/or creating competencies and key behaviors.

At each tier, you have the option to:

  • select key behaviors listed under each competency to include in your model,
  • include all competencies and key behaviors by checking the appropriate box,
  • add more key behaviors to existing competencies,
  • edit existing key behaviors on some competencies, and
  • add new competencies and associated key behaviors.

As you complete each tier, the tool will save your work to your account.

See the sections below for more detailed instructions on how to select and add competencies and key behaviors to your model.

Select Existing Competencies and Key Behaviors

Tiers 1-4
As you progress through Tiers 1-4, you will see existing competencies and key behaviors associated with each tier. You may choose to include all the existing competencies and key behaviors in your model by checking the "Include All" box.

Alternatively, you may determine that only some of the competencies are relevant to your industry. If this is the case, you may include a competency by checking the boxes next to specific key behaviors associated with that competency. The checked key behaviors and competency linked to those behaviors will be included in your model.

Tier 5
When you reach Tier 5 for industry models, you will have to select an existing industry sector before reviewing competencies and key behaviors. After you choose a sector, the procedure for selecting competencies and key behaviors is the same as the procedure followed for Tiers 1-4.

For the generic building blocks model, there are no existing competencies associated with Tier 5. If you choose to use the generic model, you can create your own competencies at the Tier 5 level.

Add Key Behaviors to Existing Competencies

At each tier, you may select the "Add Key Behavior" link to add new key behaviors to existing competencies. Once you have selected the link, a new screen will appear on which you must select the name of the competency for which you are adding the key behavior and type the title of your new key behavior in the field provided. You are not required to provide a description of the key behavior. See the appendix for more information on writing key behaviors.

You may keep adding new key behaviors to the selected competency by clicking the "Add Another Key Behavior" link at the bottom of the screen. When you are finished adding key behaviors to that competency, click "Done" and the new key behaviors will be included in your model.

If you start adding a new key behavior and decide not to add that behavior, click "Cancel" to return to the list of competencies. If you have entered several key behaviors that you do not want to include, click on "Cancel All" to return to the list of competencies. Remember, you can always "uncheck" a key behavior from the list of competencies if you would like to delete it from your list.

To add new key behaviors to a different competency, select a new competency and follow the same procedures outlined above.

Editing Key Behaviors in Existing Competencies

Tiers 1-4
For some existing competencies, you have the option to edit the text associated with existing key behaviors. If a key behavior has a "+" sign next to it, there is associated text available for editing. Click on the "+" sign to review the text. If you would like to revise the text, click "Edit". An editable text box will appear containing the key behavior text you selected. Once you have finished editing the key behavior, click "Save", and your revisions will be incorporated into your model.

Tiers 4 and 5
Remember, there are no existing competencies associated with Tier 5 of the generic building blocks model. If you choose to use the generic framework, you will not have any competencies or key behaviors to edit at Tier 5.

Add Your Own Competency

Tiers 1-3
If you want to add new competencies to Tiers 1-3 of your model, click "Add Competency". A new screen will appear where you can enter the name of the competency, a brief definition, and key behaviors that describe the competency. To add a new competency, you must enter the name of the competency and at least one key behavior. Though providing a definition of the competency and description(s) of the key behavior(s) are optional fields, we recommend you provide as much information as you can during model development. See the appendix for more information on developing competencies.

You may include more than one key behavior to describe a new competency by clicking "Add Another Key Behavior". A new screen will appear on which the name of your competency will be entered in the name of the competency field. You should enter the additional key behavior and optional key behavior description on this screen. Repeat this process until you have entered all key behaviors for the new competency. Click "Add Competency" and your new competency and key behaviors will be included in your model.

Tiers 4-5
You may also use the "Add Competency" feature to include additional competencies on Tier 4 (industry-wide) and Tier 5 (industry-sector). The procedure for adding a competency at Tiers 4 and 5 is similar to the one followed in Tiers 1-3 with one exception. At Tiers 4 and 5, you have the option to assign a "level" to competencies. Establishing a competency level is one way to distinguish between competencies for entry-level positions and competencies for more advanced level positions (e.g., technician or management) within an industry.

Finalizing Your Model
As you complete each tier, the tool will save your work to your account. You may return at any time to view, edit, or revise your work. Once you have finished building your model, you may download your work as a Word document. Remember that if you make changes to the Word document, to preserve them you will need to return, enter and save them to the model in your account.


Competency Tip:
Remember that a competency is the capability to use a set of related knowledge, skills, and abilities to successfully perform tasks in a defined work setting, in school, and in everyday life.

As you develop competencies for your model, think about the type of competencies that make up the first five tiers of the building blocks model. For example, if you are working on Tier 3 (Workplace Competencies) of your model, think about the type of competencies found at this tier of the model. Then, proceed through the following steps to develop new competencies.

  1. Think about the knowledge, skills, abilities, or other requirements needed to successfully perform in all jobs in the workplace.
  2. Review the workplace competencies associated with your chosen model framework.
  3. Determine if the framework competencies cover all the related knowledge, skills, and abilities necessary for successful performance in all jobs across all industries.
  4. Ask yourself if there are any competencies that would make the model more complete.
  5. Add new competencies to your model.

For example, you might determine that your model lacks a competency to represent the knowledge, skills, and abilities related to working with others. As a result you might include a competency called "Teamwork" which you might define as:

  • Working effectively with others, regardless of organizational level, background, gender, race or ethnicity to resolve disagreements, persuade others and reach agreements.

Remember, the more detail you can provide to your model, the more valuable your model will be to your end user.

Key Behavior Tip:
Make sure your key behaviors are measurable and observable activities associated with a competency. You should use key behaviors to provide a more complete description of the competency to help clarify its meaning. For example, the following behaviors could be associated with the competency "Teamwork":

  • Handles differences in work styles effectively when working with coworkers
  • Capitalizes on strengths of others on a team to get work done
  • Anticipates potential conflicts and addressing them directly and effectively
  • Motivates others to contribute opinions and suggestions
  • Demonstrates a personal commitment to group goals

Remember, you should begin a key behavior statement with an action verb such as: writes, performs, assists, demonstrates, develops, or implements.