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Competencies are a great way of validating and developing skills within you organisation.

When upgrading from Totara Learn 12 or earlier to Totara 13 all existing competency migration data will be migrated to the new format during the first cron run after you have upgraded your site.

Please note that this can take some time to complete, and the required time will depend on the number of competencies achieved by your users prior to the upgrade.

If you have both multitenancy and tenant isolation enabled then competencies will not be available for your site's users.


By identifying skills gaps you can target competencies at particular individuals, positions or other groups of users to upskill your existing staff. By focusing on improving your existing workforce you can:

  • Respond to market changes
  • Improve employee engagement
  • Offer career development
  • Increase talent retention
  • Boost revenue and profitability

Working with competencies

Within Totara you can use competencies to map skills to people, and then map competencies to various forms of achievement, including courses, other competencies and manual ratings (when a user or manager rates a competency level). By setting up achievement paths you can decide how competencies are achieved. You can also set different achievement requirements for each rating of a competency. For example, a user could be automatically given the 'Competent with supervision' based on their assignment to the competency for holding a certain position - as you might assume this level of competency is a requirement for even being hired in that position. They may then have to complete courses or other competencies to achieve the 'Competent' rating with an optional 'Highly competent' rating available to be manually given by their manager. 

The user competency profile allows users and their managers to track progress in all assignment competencies - making it clear what needs to be done to achieve a higher rating. There are also a number of graphs here that show competencies mapped against various positions, so that users can easily see what competency rating they need in a certain competency for their position. For example you might need a higher competency rating for the 'Fire safety' competency if you are a Fire Marshal than if you are a regular employee.

Building competencies 

When building new competencies there is a basic flow that will be taken in most cases. 

  1. Create or edit a competency framework for your competency to sit in.
  2. Create or edit the competency scale that will define the criteria used to rate your competencies. 
  3. Optionally, you can create competency types to allow you to add custom fields to a competency item. 
  4. Create your competency item. This is the individual competency item that sits within your framework. 
  5. Once you have created one or more competency items you can then add achievement paths for them. This is the set of parameters that need to be met in order for a specific competency rating to be awarded. 
  6. Finally you will need to go to the competency assignments section to assign the competencies to different users or groups of users (such as audiences and positions). 

Totara Academy

The Totara Academy has a whole course dedicated to using Competencies in Totara Perform. Here you can learn more on how to use competencies, see best practice, and give it a go yourself.

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