ICAO Doc 9868: Bridging Competence Gaps with CBTA

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ICAO Doc 9868 describes the preferred methodology to be used in developing courses under the Competency-based Training and Assessment (CBTA) paradigm.  But there are a couple of gotchas you need to be aware of if you want to go down this path.  The first thing you should know is that the ADDIE model that underpins CBTA was originally designed for training new entrants to an industry.  It aims to take people who ‘can’t’ and turn them into people who ‘can’.  But a lot of airline training is tedious, repetitive annual refresher courses that must be completed for compliance, not necessarily for new skill development.  So, there is a mismatch. There is another problem: ‘competence’.  How can a novice be competent if they have never done the job for real?  Let’s look at what CBTA is all about and how we can resolve these problems.

Remember that CBTA is designed for training novices.  In simple terms, ADDIE answers a few simple questions:

  • What do you want people to be able to do at the end of training?
  • How can we tell if they have been successful in training?
  • How much training is needed to meet the graduation standard?
  • What is the most cost/effective way to deliver the training?
  • Does the training work?

That’s it in a nutshell.  ICAO Doc 9868 elaborates on the steps but doesn’t really fix the gotchas.  So, what else do you need to know?  Let’s deal with recurrent training first.  There are 2 component parts of the ‘A’ of ADDIE we need to understand.  First, we start the analysis phase by creating a Task Analysis (TA) that describes what the job entails.  We then do a Training Needs Analysis (TNA), which identifies the target population we are aiming the training at and considers what they already know and, therefore, what more training they need.  Clearly, new hires need more training than someone who has worked for another airline or our own crews coming back for a refresher.  So, for those with prior knowledge we can either create a dedicated course that just deals with important or new content, or we can do a pre-test.  If they pass the pre-test they don’t need to do the course.

The second problem is bringing ‘competence’ into the equation.  Competence is clearly linked to workplace performance but, as we saw earlier, a novice cannot be ‘competent’.   When ADDIE talks about graduation standards it means at the end of training and we assess this using a test.  We are not measuring competence. How do we square this circle? Simple. First, we need a model of workplace ‘competence’ that will let us ‘see’ acceptable job-related activity.  The ICAO Doc 9868 ‘competencies’ attempt to do this.  What we now need is a framework to bridge the gap between the course graduation standard and the desired workplace standard.  We can do this through structured on-the-job training, mentoring, job-shadowing.  The important bit is that it needs to be planned, structured and delivered by competent trainers.

So, there you have it.  A simple guide to CBTA and a couple of hacks to fix the problems in relation to ICAO Doc 9868.

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