What’s the difference between skills and competencies?

Sarah Beckett, HRSG, Aug 14, 2015
Commentary by Stephen Downes

According to Sarah Beckett, skills represent the 'what' while competencies represent the 'how'. "Skills define specific learned activities, and they range widely in terms of complexity (“Mopping the floor” and “performing brain surgery” can both be classified as skills) ... But skills don’t give us the “how.” How does an individual perform a job successfully? How do they behave in the workplace environment to achieve the desired result?" Skills, write Beckett, comprise one of three parts of competencies: "the other two are knowledge and abilities." To me, skills represent the ability to complete a process, while competencies include knowledge of why you're completing the process.

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