What is Validated Skills Development?

An introduction to the outcome-based learning methodology that's improving the effectiveness and adaptiveness of enterprise training programs.

Skills development—it’s a pressing topic across organizations worldwide. The need for rapidly developing skills has a huge impact on how Learning and Development (L&D) leaders, training managers and instructional designers are approaching upskilling.

Despite the focus on skills development, obstacles like ineffective or non-scalable training methods or low engagement levels keep individuals and organizations from going average to great. These obstacles pose a serious risk to organizations—and not just from a revenue perspective, but from performance, productivity, efficiency and security standpoints as well.

Here’s the good news:

Skills gaps can’t run rampant in organizations that have training programs in place designed to continuously assess, develop, apply and validate a learner’s skills and competencies.

What’s the foundation of a program like this called?

Validated skills development.

So, what is validated skills development? How does this approach enhance skill development and empower learners?

Let’s dive in.

What Is validated skills development?

Validated skills development (also called validated learning) refers to the process of assessing, verifying and documenting an individual’s competencies in a specific area. Learners can then put into practice the concepts and skills they’ve learned in training. Essentially, it’s saying to learners: “We’ve provided you with the information, now show us that you know what you’re doing”. Individuals who successfully put knowledge into practice are considered ‘qualified’ or ‘trained’.

The process of validated learning happens first by individuals being presented with new skills or knowledge. Learners then are encouraged to experiment with these new concepts to complete a certain goal or meet a certain metric. Learners’ efforts are then analyzed to determine how well the goal was met. This data can then be used to improve the training content delivery method or the learner’s competency level. Learners can repeat the process as needed until they achieve the desired result.

How do you put validated learning into practice?

During training, users are challenged to set up security measures for a new Windows environment. Based on the information presented during training, trainees set up these new measures on their own and ‘turn in’ their new environment once finished. Instructors can then review the security measures and determine if everything was set up correctly or if the learner needs more training in a specific area like building firewalls or implementing multi-factor authentication. This all happens during training, ensuring learners grasp cybersecurity measures before starting work.

Use cases for validated learning

Validated skills development can be used in the different functional groups within an organization and across numerous use cases, including:

Training Capstones and exam preparation

At the end of a course or learning path, learners can validate that they have learned the material. It can highlight areas where  additional development may be needed. Organizations are incorporating validated learning or performance testing into their exams to better test proficiency.c

Ability to work in technical environments

Learners can validate proficiency by proving they can properly use a platform, tool or software by performing real-world scenarios in safe environments.

Technical sales enablement

Test technical sales teams’ knowledge on product features and functionality before meeting with customers. This builds a consistent, verified level of knowledge across sales teams, and increases chances providing a better customer experience.

Customer support

Ensure customer support reps are ready for all types of customer calls by testing their ability to resolve issues before they start work.

Ultimately, this approach better positions individuals to develop the knowledge and confidence needed to correctly complete on-the-job tasks or speak to customers or partners.

Validated learning in action

In response to the rapidly changing cybersecurity industry, Comtech, a telecommunication company, and their CyberStronger team designed a training program with validated skills development at its core. Their strategy included using hands-on training labs powered by Skillable that were designed from real-world security threats. Users were then taught about how to properly defend against new cybersecurity threats and then directly applied that knowledge within the training lab. Learners are taken through a specific, tailored journey with built-in feedback so both learners and Instructors can monitor and validate progress.

Ultimately, the approach resulted in 90-95% of Comtech’s learners showing real-world proficiency in identifying and preventing cybersecurity threats.

Read the rest of the Comtech case study.

Validated learning provides skilling insights for leaders and guides learners on where their skills are strong or still need improvement.

This approach provides HR, L&D, training managers and Instructors a powerful way to enhance learners’ skills and increase their confidence in their job and role. And with more confident employees is a higher performing one.

And that’s just the beginning of what the approach offers. Discover the top benefits to utilizing validated skills development.


Stop guessing where learners’ skills are or how effective your training strategy is and start assessing, developing and validating skills throughout the entire learning lifecycle .