Competencies for Educators

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No competence-centered learning without a look on the competence of the educational professionals. It starts with a general positive attitude to self-development: Ability and willingness to broaden and deepen. Applying new methodology, approaches and technology in order to improve learning.


The quality of training is depending from different parameters like educational context, motivation of learners and educators, spatial conditions, the competences of learners and educators they might bring in, variety of methodology...

Necessary competence of an educator is to understand and regularily assess how all these things work together - and, in consequence, to shape or apply the learning process on the basis of such metacognitive reasoning, including a reflective view of one's own role and performance.

When competence-centered learning should be a flexible approach taking needs of learners seriously then this requires a certain flexibility and broadness of educators. They need to be able to choose among different approaches and methods and to apply and adjust their facilitation.

Specialization, on the other hand, is a sign that educators also relate to the need for further development and lifelong learning. In particular, this means that, instead of merely expanding areas of experience at roughly the same level, some are deepened.

"The quality of trainers – i.e., their professional expertise combined with their ability to perform within an educational framework – has a crucial impact on the quality of the training activities they deliver."[1]


Facilitation Competence

  • Metacognition including: setting meaningful criteria, assessing success, quality and impact on a meta-level, strategic and targeted thinking
  • Broadening knowledge, skills and attitude. Being able to apply various facilitation/moderation/guidance approaches and different methodologies adequately.
  • Developing deeper expertise or specialisation
  • Positive attitude to self-development: Ability and willingness to apply new methodology, approaches and technology in order to improve learning
  • Shaping the learning space and appropriate learning conditions


Digital Competence

In an era of digital transformation the "ability to use, shape and apply information technology for different purposes and in manyfold societal contexts" (see: Digital Competences) is becoming a necessity and transversal competence. After having in the past focused on the (young) learners, now also the professional is shifting into the focus of competences framework designers and of the educational institutions.

Digital Competences cannot be understood synonymously as transformative competences, but they are an integral part of them. Therefore, we need to prevent a limitation of digital competence to "ICT skills" and extend it toward a holistic understanding of digital competences. On the other hand, not all what the broad public perceives as part of digital competence is necessarily digital by nature, in example curiosity, analytical thinking, problem solving, a proactive mindset or else. If we want to come to a clearer understanding of specific qualification needs in regard to the digital we should differentiate here more precisely.

Areas of teachers’ or educators’ digital competence

  • Digital pedagogy – the organisation of the teaching/learning process, giving the feedback, evaluation of the academic achievement with the help of ICT Digital resource management – selection, use and creation of the digital learning and methodological resources
  • Communication and cooperation – communication via e-platforms, sharing resources, joint online work with all the participants of the education process (colleagues, pupils, parents, experts, authorities)
  • Identity management and safety – responsible behaviour on-line, data protection and privacy, the use of ICT for creating a professional image, the environmentally and health-friendly use of digital tools
  • Competence for active citizenship – the use of digital gadgets and applications for influencing social processes, the awareness of equality and inclusion issues in the context of technologies.

Source: Digital Competences of Educators

Competence Frameworks for Educators

Similar to frameworks for learners, the competency descriptions fo facilitators, teachers, trainers or educators are following the idea of competence as a combination of knowledge, skills and attitudes. They aim to fit to broad range of formal and non-formal educational contexts.

Case Study: ETS Trainer Competences in the EU


The Steering Group of the European Training Strategy of Youth in Action asked for a competence framework for non-formal education, in particular in a youth context and in regard to groups with diverse cultural backgrounds.

This effort is part of the overarching European Training Strategy in the field of Youth of the European Commission. It is caring about quality and acceptance of learning in youth education and youth work in Europe.

The here presented competences for trainers working at international level are one example for a holistic competency set, covering a lot of aspects, we are illustrating in the Competendo toolbox.[2].

Understanding and facilitating individual and group learning processes

  • Selecting, adapting or creating appropriate methods
  • Creating a safe, inspiring learning environment
  • Support learners in identifying and meeting their learning needs and overcoming any barriers
  • Understanding and facilitating group dynamic in a way that is conducive to different ways of learning
  • Stimulating active participation and motivating and empowering learners
  • Promoting creativity, problem-solving and 'out-of-the-box' thinking
  • Effectively managing one's own emotions in training situations
  • Respecting ethical boundaries vis-á-vis learners

Learning to learn

  • Assessing one's own learning achievements and competences
  • Identifying learning objectives and pursuing them pro-actively
  • Undergoing personal/professional development through feedback
  • Acknowledging and dealing with unexpected learning moments and outcomes
  • Identifying and providing appropriate resources to support individual learning

Designing educational programmes

  • Developing an educational approach based on the principles and values of non-formal learning
  • Transferring knowledge or values related to the activity to learners
  • Integrating learners' socio-political backgrounds into the educational programme where relevant,
  • Integrating ICT, e-learning and othr tools and methods into the educational activity
  • Choose and designing appropriate methods for collecting, interpreting and idsseminating information (data, resources, findings, etc)

Cooperating successfully in teams

  • Contributing actively to team tasks
  • Being willing to take on responsibility
  • Encouraging and involving other team members
  • Learning with and from others
  • Being aware of the team processes and how they affect the team's effectiveness
  • Managing disagreements constructively

Communicating meaningfully with others

  • An ability to listen actively
  • An ability to be empathetic
  • An ability to clearly express thoughts and emotions
  • An awareness of identity-related issues
  • Being diversity-aware

Intercultural competence

  • Reflecting acceptance of ambiguity and change
  • Maintaining awareness of one's own identity
  • Showing a willingness and ability to look at identity, culture and related aspects and dimensions from different perspectives
  • Critically reflecting and distance oneself from one's own perceptions, biases, and stereotypical constructions of reality
  • Reflecting and using dicerse ways and methods to increase self-awareness
  • Being able to apply human rights principles

Being civically engaged

  • Connecting (youth policies and educational programmes
  • Integrating values and beliefs
  • Supporting learners in developing critical thinking
  • Applying democracy and human rights priciples

Source: SALTO Training and Cooperation.


  1. JUGEND für Europa/SALTO Training and Cooperation: Gisele Evrard Markovic (ed.): European Training Strategy. A competence model for trainers working at international level; Bonn 2018
  2. JUGEND für Europa/SALTO Training and Cooperation: European Training Strategy ll - Amended version of competences for trainers working at international level with criteria and indicators, Bonn 2014

Nils-Eyk Zimmermann

Nils-Eyk Zimmermann

Editor of Competendo. He writes and works on the topics: active citizenship, civil society, digital transformation, non-formal and lifelong learning, capacity building. Coordinator of European projects, in example DIGIT-AL Digital Transformation in Adult Learning for Active Citizenship, DARE network.

Blogs here: Blog: Civil Resilience.


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