Purpose: The author aims to develop an employee competency framework for a volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity (VUCA) environment and propose learning and development (L&D) interventions for organisations and employees to develop competencies for thriving in a VUCA environment. Design/methodology/approach: The framework synthesis method was used to determine employee competencies that are essential in a VUCA world. Findings: The author identified 10 competencies that are essential for employee development in a VUCA world. The author categorised these employee competencies as cognitive (cognitive flexibility, agility mindset and personal ambidexterity), cross-cultural (cross-cultural intelligence and cross-cultural collaboration), analytical (creativity and complex problem solving) and personal effectiveness competencies (personal resilience, continuous learning and adaptive mindset). Practical implications: The proposed competencies could be used for the personal development of employees and organisations. The VUCA competency framework developed in this study includes behavioural dimensions for each competency, which could be used in self-assessment, recruitment and selection and talent and performance management. Furthermore, the author proposes L&D interventions required for developing these competencies. Overall, this study contributes to human resources (HR) development in the VUCA era by proposing the development of specific individual competencies as necessary conditions for survival and growth. Originality/value: VUCA competencies empower employees to not only survive but also thrive in an unpredictable and rapidly changing world. By incorporating these competencies in L&D interventions, organisations can help employees develop the necessary competencies to thrive in a VUCA environment, thus contributing to their personal and organisational success.