What is a unit of competency?

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What is a unit of competency?

In my time working as a trainer, I’ve heard this question one too many times. Units of competency are nationally agreed benchmarks that assess the required skills and knowledge you must have in order to be seen as competent in a particular job or job function. Each unit of competency has different components, so knowing and understanding the different components can help you plan, execute, and assess training courses more effectively.

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The Components of a Unit

Each unit of competency consists of the following core components:


This is basically a short statement that describes the work activity of the unit.


A broad description of the unit outcomes/objectives, covering the skills, knowledge, and work tasks. This also provides info on who the unit applies to and what type of roles will benefit from this unit.


Elements help you define the key skills and sub tasks needed to carry out the job or task.

Performance Criteria

These define the regular workplace activities to be mastered and specifies the required level of performance for each activity, skill, or element.

Required Skills and Knowledge

Refers to the underlying theory/knowledge that students need to know to perform tasks or activities in a specific manner. Skills is the application of that knowledge in various workplace scenarios.

Range Statement

Range statements have been removed from many training packages but if you encounter some of them, they’ll help you to contextualize the elements and performance criteria to various industries or settings.

Evidence Guide

The basis of every assessment is the evidence which students have to provide to demonstrate their competency. There are two types of evidence namely:

Knowledge Evidence: The core facts and theory the student needs to learn prior to undertaking tasks and skills.

Performance Evidence: The skills and tasks student must perform competently to demonstrate they can

Assessment Conditions

These guide trainers and assessors on the minimum conditions required for assessment to take place and sets out the equipment, timings and resources needed for assessment.



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