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KS21 Competency and competency management systems in facilities management
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KS21 Competency and competency management systems in facilities management

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Management of our existing building stock is suffering from a decline in skilled staff entering the industry as a result of political change and corporate pressures to perform financially. Legislation calls for competent persons to manage risk but the term competence is rarely clearly defined, creating a corporate dilemma. The organisation retains responsibility and needs to be able to demonstrate its compliance and competent staff are required to do this.

The concept of competence and competency was first discussed in the late 1950s and today remains an area that continues to have a broad definition. There are differing interpretations across other industries and sectors. As a result, competency continues to be one of the most diffuse terms within both the management sector and within organisational literature.

This guide provides an understanding of competence and competency, focusing on the management of building engineering systems in operational buildings, although the concept is equally valid for other disciplines including management. It details the journey individuals and organisations need to take to become competent and how to maintain and manage linking to human resources (HR) and talent management. It is not intended as definitive or a model solution in every case; sample templates are included that can be adapted. The aim is to demonstrate how to review and apply effective management of competency, which is scalable to small and medium size organisations as well as large corporate bodies.

Due to the infinite range of possible scenarios, and the wide-ranging complexity, especially in relation to safety related systems, users of this guide, once competent, must exercise their own professional judgement in the application of the principles discussed. In all cases it should be remembered that the effort expended in establishing and ensuring competency hould be in proportion to the risk of inadequate competence.

The publication of CIBSE Knowledge Series KS21 fills a significant gap in the range of publications produced by CIBSE and augments guidance currently available.

The production and work within this guidance is as a result of a sub-group of the CIBSE Maintenance Task Group in association with the CIBSE Facilities Management Group.

Supplementary files:

Appendix 4 of the KS includes a number of sample competency assessment checklists. Word versions of each of these can be downloaded from the relevant link below:

Competency Assessment/Checklists to confirm ongoing suitability of a Skilled Person

Competency Assessment/Checklist to confirm ongoing suitability of Contractors


1 Introduction

2 Competence

2.1 The legislative environment

2.2 Risk and proportionality

2.3 Liability of the competent person

3 The competence journey

4 Competency certification

5 Organisational ‘de-risking’

6 Human resource and talent management

6.1 Resource management

6.2 Performance appraisals and development reviews

7 Training and continuing professional development (CPD)

7.1 Training

7.2 Continuing professional development (CPD)

7.3 Evidence and record keeping

8 Competency management systems (CMS)

9 Benefits of having a competency management system

10 Competency management and continuous improvement


Further reading


Appendix 1: CPD methods and techniques

Appendix 2: Example legislative citations and references to competence

Appendix 3: Examples of United Kingdom case law and examples of legal precedent

Appendix 4: Sample competency assessment checklists.


Authors: Stephen Gathergood; Stephen Hunter; Joanna Harris.

Other acknowledgements: A sub-group of the CIBSE Maintenance Task Group in association with the CIBSE Facilities

Management Group.

Chair, CIBSE Facilities Management Group: Geoff Prudence.

View the KS21 launch event here

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