About the CACFv2 Revisions and Structure

The CACF framework has been restructured to align with best practices in competency framework design, as outlined in the eCampus Ontario Open Competency Toolkit. The work done to restructure the framework included:

  • Breaking up longer compound competency descriptors into more focused and concise competency statements
  • Separating the performance criteria from supporting skills, knowledge, and attributes
  • Creating a new framework structure that included levels of complexity within each competency area
  • Adding content related to climate mitigation to the revised structure

Uses for competency frameworks

While the range of uses for competency frameworks is wide (some lists include over 100 end uses), there are a few common reasons why a competency framework may be developed, all of which may be applied in either a workplace or an educational context. The language used in each of those settings may vary, but there are four main contexts and primary uses, as described below.

Well-designed competency frameworks support training and learning, assessment, credentialing, and workforce development in different ways (Figure 1). All of these uses are interrelated, as credentialing and workforce development include some form of training or learning and assessment. By providing a baseline framework and definition of the competencies required in climate action, we will be able to link to or develop courses, learning activities and assessments that build those competencies.

Figure 1: Uses for Competency Frameworks. From the Open Competency Toolkit by Dennis Green and Carolyn Levy CC:BY SA4.0

The CACFv2’s primary target end users of the competency framework are people working in various roles and organizations that have a climate action mandate as a component of their work.

For each of these groups, we will want to ask the following:

  • Who will be using the framework?
  • What context will they be using it for?
  • What problem are they trying to solve?
  • How will the framework help?

Framework Structure

The framework is structured into

Domains (each represented by a specific colour)

Competency Areas (each area includes a range of 3-7 specific competencies) within each Domain,

Groups of Competencies within each Competency Area (Figure 2).

Figure 2: CACFv2 Poster outlining structure

Within the CACF, competency definitions include clear competency statements and performance criteria. Competencies are organized within each competency area and performance criteria benchmarked to levels of complexity which relate to the increasing amount of autonomy, responsibility, accountability, impact, and expertise that each requires.

For example:

  • The lowest level specifies performance criteria for those working under direct supervision with limited autonomy and expertise (i.e., supporting roles)
  • Middle levels specify performance criteria for those with increasing autonomy, expertise, and responsibility (i.e., functional, technical, and supervisory roles)
  • The highest level specifies performance criteria for those with the greatest autonomy and accountability (i.e., strategic leadership roles)

Figure 3: CACFv2 Levels of Complexity

Competencies at different levels of complexity in one competency area include differences in how they are framed and in context, such as the example in Figure 4 below:

Figure 4: Example of one domain showing competency areas and competencies

Each competency descriptor includes:

Performance CriteriaMeasurable Behaviors

Performance criteria are the behaviours that must be demonstrated to show proficiency in the competency. These are used as the basis for assessment. How these are measured are up to users of the framework when developing assessment tools.

Supporting Knowledge and Skills

Supporting knowledge, skills, and attributes related to each competency may include base knowledge and skills that apply to a set of competencies (such as a whole domain or sub-domain) as well as those specific to particular competencies and/or levels within the framework. For example, a base level of knowledge about climate change may be expected of everyone, but a deeper level of expertise would be required for certain competencies and roles.

Context and Application

The framework will identify related context and application of the competencies for different target groups.

In the examples above, senior leaders may require the highest level competencies in the framework, while those working in entry level/support roles require lower level competencies, and technical experts, supervisors, and managers using the middle to higher levels.

Framework Levels vs Proficiency Levels

Formal and informal assessments and learning activities related to the framework may be included in accompanying resources in the future, such as an implementation or user guide, but are not part of the core competency framework. These need to be developed after the framework has been finalized, as different competencies and performance criteria lend themselves to different approaches to measuring performance expectations, and performance expectations will vary in different situations and geographies. 

Many people use the term “proficiency levels” to describe levels in a framework. In the CACFv2 we have identified the difference between competencies in one acres that simple or more complex (levels of complexity) and levels of proficiency, which are the basis for assessment. 

The simplest way to explain the difference is that although the competencies within a competency area  may be more complex than others (e.g., “follow policy” vs “develop policy”), every competency can be measured against a proficiency scale (i.e., how well does someone perform against the performance criteria). There are different proficiency scales that may be used when developing assessments for a competency.

Some competencies may lend themselves to a typical skill progression scale (i.e. a variation on the Dreyfus model) as shown in Figure 6:

Figure 5: Typical Progression Scale.  Adapted from the Open Competency Toolkit by Dennis Green and Carolyn Levy CC:BY SA4.0

Other competencies may be better assessed by a binary system – such as “competent” or “not yet competent”. This often applies to explicitly or demonstrably measurable competencies like working safely where you can either perform to expectations or you can’t.

Competencies that rely heavily on behavioural indicators are often best reflected using a frequency scale (Figure 6). For these, it’s important to measure how often the behaviour is demonstrated, rather than measuring the difficulty or complexity.

How frequently is this behaviour demonstrated?
FrequencyNeverSome of the timeMost of the timeAlways

Figure 6: Typical Frequency  Scale.

As people use the CACFv2 to develop assessments, some or all of these scales may be utilized.