Difference between Competencies and skills


The terms skills and competencies are often used interchangeably, however, they are not synonymous.  Skills tend to be more specific and more easily defined and described.  Competencies, on the other hand, are much broader as they include not only sets of skills, but also knowledge and abilities.  


Skills and Competencies Defined

Skills are specific learned physical tasks or activities

Competencies are a set of skills combined with knowledge and abilities.



The Difference Explained

A major difference between skills and competencies is one of scope.  Competencies are much broader than skills.  Skills are specific to a task, while competencies incorporate a set of skills with abilities and knowledge.  Skills are just one of three facets that make up a competency; the other two are knowledge and abilities.

Additionally, learning a new skill is typically quicker than learning a competency.  You can learn a skill in a relatively short training class, however, a person develops competencies over time through practice and experience.

In business, competencies are the effective application of a combination of skills.  Organizations create competencies by translating specific skills into on-the-job behaviors that demonstrate the ability to perform the job requirements successfully.  Competencies are also used to define the requirements for success on the job in broader terms than skills do.



About Competencies

A competency is a broad collection of related skills, abilities, and knowledge that enable a person to perform effectively in a job or situation.

In the business world, competencies are used to define the abilities, skills, and knowledge that are needed by individuals to successfully perform job functions.

Examples of competencies

  • Staff development
  • Managing risk
  • Communication
  • Customer service
  • Problem solving
  • Decision making


About Skills

Skills are specific learned activities or tasks requiring proficiency or dexterity that are acquired or developed through training or experience.  They can range widely in terms of complexity.  

In the business world, a skill is a physical task learned in order to be able to carry out one or more job functions.

Examples of Skills

  • Using a computer
  • Typing a letter
  • Installing an electrical outlet
  • Creating a PowerPoint presentation
  • Changing a car’s oil
  • Writing technical reference material


Related Links

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