What is competency and how is it assessed?

What is competency?

Competency is the capability to apply or use the set of related knowledge, skills, and abilities required to successfully perform ‘critical work functions’ or tasks in a defined work setting. Competencies often serve as the basis for skill standards that specify the level of knowledge, skills, and abilities required for success in the workplace as well as potential measurement criteria for assessing competency attainment. Competence is a measure of both proven skills and proven knowledge.

A competent person is defined as a person who is appointed or designated by the employer to perform specified duties based on knowledge, training and experience.

Refer to s. 4 of the Mines Safety and Inspection Act 1994 for the definition of competent person.

How is competency assessed or verified?


  • Assessment is the formal process of collecting evidence of the competencies (skills and knowledge) a worker has developed through:
  • a structured learning environment
  • on-the-job training
  • off-the-job training
  • other relevant workplace experience.

Verification of competency (VOC) should be evidence based and verified before work commences. Competency may be verified by:

  • recognition of prior learning (RPL)
  • on-site recognition of current competency (RCC)
  • the operation’s training and development program.

All verification methods must include a documented assessment.

Theoretical knowledge is normally assessed in a training room but may also be conducted on the job (e.g. through documented verbal questioning).

Skills assessments are usually conducted on the job using a practical test or simulation.

The Resources and Infrastructure Industry Training Package (RII) was developed by industry in consultation with SkillsDMC, the National Industry Skills Council for Drilling, Mining, Quarrying and Civil Infrastructure. It outlines the units of competency that meet the minimum requirements for training and assessment.

Recognition of prior learning (RPL)

RPL is an assessment pathway to confirm the skills and knowledge that a worker has gained previously through informal or non-formal training, or through life or other work experiences. For example, if a worker has been trained and worked on a piece of plant for several years, but for some reason has never been assessed, the RPL assessment process could be used.

The evidence supplied and assessed for RPL must be valid, sufficient, current and authentic. RPL should never bypass or shortcut the assessment process. It is a means to acknowledge that sufficient evidence has been collected to verify competence.

Recognition of current competency (RCC)

RCC is an assessment pathway for workers who have previously completed an assessment, been deemed competent, and are now required to be reassessed to ensure that competence has been maintained. For example, a worker previously been assessed as competent for issuing work permits on a company’s mine site, may be assessed by RCC when they start work on another mine site of the same company using an identical work permit system.

The evidence supplied and assessed for RCC must be valid, sufficient, current and authentic.

Online and electronic training and assessment

The department does not endorse any specific e-learning technologies for training and assessment. In general, best practice should consider the following.

Participants developing an e-learning community
The e-learning environment should facilitate communication among the participants so that they develop as a student community. Students should also be able to interact easily with their instructors.

Establish how the e-learning environment operates
Students should receive an orientation so they understand how the e-learning environment will operate. The instructor should establish the standards expected for submitted work. Submission deadlines for assignments and delivery methods must be clear.

Incorporate different kinds of learning activities
It is important to incorporate activities that are more interactive, as well as research projects. For example, use webinars (live courses or seminars over the internet) as well as offline coursework.

Encourage use of the internet as a resource
Incorporate links to outside resources, such as the State Law Publisher (for Western Australian legislation) or Standards Australia (for Australian Standards). When setting essays or projects, ensure that proper referencing is used to avoid problems with plagiarism.

Related information

Please refer to related information below:

The Department of Industry’s Skills Training at Training.gov.au is the official National Register on vocational education and training (VET) in Australia.

The RII - Resources and Infrastructure Industry Training Package specifies the minimum skills and knowledge required to perform effectively in the resources sector.

SkillsDMC has developed several resources to help industry implement the RII Training Package.