“Why Not Now?” CompetencyXChange Featured at CBExchange 2022

Colleen Pawlicki
Latest News in CBE
Published in
3 min readOct 19, 2022


CBExchange 2022 is underway! To kick off the day, C-BEN Executive Vice President Dr. Amber Garrison Duncan led a panel titled “The Game Plan,” featuring the recently announced CompetencyXChange. The panel featured members of the visionary steering committee, including Complete College America President Dr. Yolanda Watson Spiva, WorkingNation President Jane Oates, and Senior Director of State Policy at KnowledgeWorks Jon Alfuth.

CompetencyXChange is an initiative to position competencies as the currency of equitable economic opportunity and boost the adoption of high-quality competency-based learning solutions. The panelists shared their vision for the movement: A world in which it can meet the nation’s talent needs by ensuring all learners have access to credentials that demonstrate mastery of the knowledge, skills, and behaviors required to thrive in their lives and chosen career.

A simple yet burning question came from Garrison Duncan: “Why CBE, and why now?” Watson Spiva countered:

“In my estimation, we don’t have time to waste. People need the ability to go to high paying jobs immediately. All factors point to: ‘Why not now?”

This sense of urgency was shared across the panelists. More than 39 million Americans have started a college education but have never finished a degree or other credential. Many of them have developed knowledge, skills, and career-relevant behaviors on the job, but they don’t have a good way of translating those into a credential that would help them advance in their career. This vision group sees CBE as the answer.

CBE is possible due to the efforts of many to shift the systems of learning from time-based measures to the flexibility provided by competency-based measures. Doing so involves seven key areas where organizations are working to enable competency-based solutions and create a more equitable system. These seven areas are: Policy, Quality Assurance, Employers, Providers, Ed Tech, Research, and Community.

Watson Spiva underscored the importance of these areas. She stated: “We need to support people through state and federal policy, or else you will not have the ROI on credentials. The quality assurance piece is also key for equitable outcomes, ensuring high quality, affordable, useful credentials for learners.”

CompetencyXChange is also focused on keeping CBE accessible across stakeholders. Alfuth shared:

“Using simple language to describe the CBE movement is key. And having concrete examples of what it looks like in practice is crucial to bringing this work to life.”

For those active in the movement, Oates provided encouragement:

“This is really hard work, and you are doing an amazing job. We need to get more people involved in it right now. Skills-based hiring is happening right now by employers across the country, and we need students ready for that. CBE is the solution.”

The CompetencyXChange conversation will continue by working with organizations to bring together K-12 and post-high school education colleagues to create a cross-sector agenda in each of the seven areas. The visionary panelists are eager to learn, partner, and co-create the agenda to reflect the needs, opportunities, and insights across the ecosystem.

However, as Garrison Duncan shared, CompetencyXChange is just the beginning. She challenged conference attendees to engage, asking every organization and institute to consider signing the commitment to CompetencyXChange. When signing on, participants can let C-BEN know which action items they commit to working on and can receive CompetencyXChange news and updates.

For more information, see the agenda here.

Follow this page for more updates on CBExchange 2022.



Colleen Pawlicki
Latest News in CBE

Restless, bold, & optimistic. Editor, researcher, author, educator, coach. Owner of Troy Street Professional Services.