Workforce Resource: Industry Competency Models

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Welcome to the first of a new blog post series featuring some of the tools, resources and programs available in the mainstream workforce system, shaped by the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) and delivered through the national network of American Job Centers serving all U.S. job seekers.

It’s a complex, resource-rich system underutilized in refugee employment services. Higher is determined to change that so our clients benefit from new opportunities and employment services.

We’ll do the research you don’t have time for amidst managing client case loads and employer relationships.  You can focus on using highlighted resources to help your clients succeed in the U.S. workforce.

Workforce Resource: Industry Competency Models

Career pathways for upward mobility in a particular sector or industry are built on a mix of soft skills and technical expertise gained through a combination of education, training and on the job experience.

The Department of Labor Education and Training Agency (DOL-ETA) has worked with a range of industry stakeholders to create 25 industry competency models in 10 industries, which are:

  1. Manufacturing,
  2. Health care/social assistance,
  3. Professional,
  4. Scientific and technical services (e.g. engineering),
  5. Energy/Utilities,
  6. Construction,
  7. Information (IT, Finance and Insurance),
  8. Accommodation and Food Services,
  9. Transportation and Warehousing,
  10. Retail Trades, and
  11. Other (Entrepreneurship)

You can access all of them through a web-based Clearinghouse that includes instructions, resources and examples of how they can be used. They are intended to identify industry needs and serve as resources for curriculum development and to develop programs to support career ladders in those industries.

Each of the models includes specific skill requirements for achieving lifelong career success in the featured industry, including specific management-level competencies.

A clickable link to ONet’s listing of occupational competencies is also included. Many of you already use ONet to research types of jobs within an industry, identify specific skill requirements employers want in qualified applicants and find concise language to include in client resumes.

Food Service Industry Example

The National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation contributed to the development of the Food Service Industry competency model.

This model includes expanded management-level skill requirements and you can also see career advancement pathways at a glance.

How You Can Use This Resource
Define Customer Service

Customer service is a common soft skill we talk about with clients in all kinds of job readiness activities. The competency models link to details of four specific customer service competencies (skills): Understanding customer needs, providing personalized service, acting professionally and keeping customers informed.

Demonstrate Career Ladders

Each competency model clearly outlines the required skills for success and advancement. For example, if a client doesn’t have those skills, yet, they can explore lower level career options or think about how to acquire the skills for future job upgrades. If you’re working to help higher skilled clients adjust their expectations, competency models will help them see how a starter job leads to the career they want. If client dreams are not fully informed by reality, they can quickly spot new skills they aren’t interested in and begin to understand that this career might not be the best fit for them.

Increasing the Results of Your Work

You can use the information to better understanding employer needs, craft better client resumes or applications and design job readiness training or in-house vocational training curriculums.

Showing these models to clients when you discuss their employability plans will add credible official information to reinforce what you tell them or give them a resource to learn more as they are ready for job upgrades or professional development.

Let us know if this new blog feature is useful for you and tell us how you were able to use it in your work at




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