competency based learningDear Associations,

I am trying to get into a skilled labor position at company X. I have some experience but there are new rules and regulations and I just can’t keep up. I could go back to school, but it’d be a huge burden to my family. Some certifications would go a long way toward getting me to my goal of getting the job and being able to eventually become a foreman, but you only offer the courses I need occasionally, and I’m not sure if I can grow at company X without them. What can I do?


Your Potentially Great Tradesman


Dear Associations,

Help! I’m under-qualified and in serious debt. How do I advance in my career when I’m barely qualified for an entry-level job in my field even though I have a degree?


Your Average American College Graduate

Who are your potential members and what do they want?

Associations, the letters above represent your prospective members, and what they want is a career. You have the potential to be the bridge they need to get the job, keep the job, and get a better one in the future. You can help your members over the skills gap with competency-based learning, career-focused training, and micro-credentialing.

Where colleges and for-profit organizations put learners deeply in debt to earn a degree as a credential to get the job, you could give them skills-based education, focused on their career path, from their first day on the job to their rise through the ranks. Where that student graduates with a basic understanding of their chosen profession, they lack the applied knowledge that will make them a success long term. According to a 2014 Gallup survey, only 11% of business leaders believe that college graduates have the necessary skills and competencies to succeed in the workplace.

How do I know?

I graduated with student loan debt to obtain a marketing degree only to have a base level understanding of marketing. I got a job once I graduated, but lacked the applied knowledge to be great in my field. I could have joined an association to get better. I’d have had access to the occasional course on SEO or maybe social media or AdWords. I might have had some networking opportunities. But I’m already in debt and I can take these courses from So, why bother?

What would have made me change my mind? What would make me join an association today?

The answer:  Help me build my career. Give me a learning path, a journey, and support that journey with the courses I need to be better, to grow from an entry level marketing associate to a CMO. Teach me what I need to grow my salary and my skills. You can do it with your continuing education programs, and if you did, people like me would join and stay.

Today I am a Director of Marketing, having worked hard to gain the skills necessary to handle all areas of marketing, but having one trusted source to build my skills sure would have saved me time and headaches.

The same is true of the father trying to support his family and get hired at company X. He wants to get that manufacturing job and eventually become a foreman.  You might have a safety course for him, but what if you could help him build the competencies necessary to have the career he always wanted, the opportunities to advance, to learn the newest techniques in the industry? According to a 2013 Talent Shortage Survey conducted by ManpowerGroup, 39% of U.S. employers were having a difficult time filling jobs, and the survey ranked “Skilled Trade worker” as the toughest job to fill. The opportunity is there, if only he had access to competency-based learning.

So how do you do it? How do you provide this learning journey?

Around the office, we call it the model, and we believe it is the future of learning. It starts with providing your members with mentors in their field. According to the 2015 Membership Marketing Benchmark report, the number one reason members join an association is for networking. So, setting learners up with another member who already has these competencies just makes sense. The learner gets someone to learn and seek feedback from, while also building their personal network.

Using micro-credentialing, the learner builds the skills necessary to enter his or her profession. Now the learner wants to advance his or her career. So the learner’s competencies are mapped with the new competencies required and a new learning journey is created. The LMS tracks the new content related to those competencies. The learning specialist updates the assessment and activity resources, to update the learning journey. All new learners have education that tracks back to what industry needs. To keep a micro-credential updated, members who completed that role can complete refresher training that only addresses the differences, since they already earned that competency. Now, the industry has a more reliable resource for their training and a network of potential candidates.

What’s in it for you?

Using the model, your association establishes a closer connection with the industry. You become the go-to source of education and information for that field. Additionally, you are creating a value-add to attract new members. Because you are the keeper of the member’s learning journey your education program helps drives renewals.  In other words,  you could have someone like me not only join your association but stay actively involved for 20+ years.  Most of all, you will be solidifying your association’s relevance in a time when associations face great uncertainty unless they change their model.

Education and the learning journey is future of associations. Welcome to

Ready to start offering members access to courses online? Check out our LMS for associations.

Want to know more about filling the skills gap and offering member continuing education, check out our resources page. 

Ready to find out what Digitec can do for you?