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What is a Skill?


A skill is the learned capacity to carry out pre-determined results often with the minimum outlay of time, energy, or both. Skills can often be divided into domain-general and domain-specific skills. For example, in the domain of work, some general skills would include time management, teamwork and leadership, self motivation and others, whereas domain-specific skills would be useful only for a certain job. Skills usually require certain environmental stimuli and situations to assess the level of skill being shown and used.

Skills are "Developed Aptitude"

Everyone has skills and abilities. Some are your unique aptitudes and talents, which may include musical abilities (singing, playing an instrument, composing music), artistic skills (drawing, painting, sculpting), athletic skills (running, jumping, throwing), or any other ability that comes easily and naturally to you. Some skills and abilities are used in your daily life — such as learning a new video game, repairing the lawnmower, listening to a friend's problems, or deciding what car to buy — while others are more specific to a particular work task, such as repairing a machine, learning a new software program or interpreting financial statements to manage a company budget.

IMPORTANT: Many skills can be learned and they improve with practice.

You will need many skills in the 21st century job market. The important thing to remember is that skills and abilities can be added or improved upon through education, training, and experience. Continue to develop and enhance your skills, and career opportunities will come your way.

Twenty Seven skills have been recognized. They are divided into two domains:
A) Foundation Skills ─ skills people bring to a job, also known as transferable skills
B) Functional Skills ─ skills specific to the functions workers perform doing their job


I. Basic Skills

Reading - Locates, understands, and interprets written information in prose and documents including manuals, graphs, and schedules to perform tasks. Learns from text by determining the main idea or essential message.

Writing - Communicates thoughts, ideas, information, and messages in writing. Composes and creates documents such as letters, directions, manuals, reports, proposals, graphs, and flow charts with language, style, organization, and format appropriate to the subject matter, purpose, and audience.

Arithmetic - Performs basic computations using basic numerical concepts, such as whole numbers and percentages, in practical situations. Uses tables, graphs, diagrams, and charts to obtain or convey quantitative information.

Speaking - Organizes ideas and communicates oral messages appropriate to listeners and situations. Participates in conversations, discussions, and group presentations. Speaks clearly.

Listening - Listens carefully and understands and responds to listener feedback. Receives, interprets, and responds to verbal messages and other cues such as body language.

II. Thinking Skills

Creative thinking - Uses imagination freely. Combines ideas or information in new ways. Makes connections between seemingly unrelated ideas, and reshapes goals in ways that reveal new possibilities.

Decision-making - Specifies goals and constraints. Generates alternatives, considers risks, and evaluates and chooses best alternative.

Problem solving - Recognizes that a problem exists. Identifies possible reasons for the differences and creates and implements a plan of action to resolve them. Evaluates and monitors progress and revises plan as indicated by findings.

Knowing how to learn - can adapt and apply new knowledge and skills to both familiar and changing situations. Is able to use ways of learning, such as note taking and organizing information. Becomes aware of false assumptions that may lead to wrong conclusions.

III. Personal Qualities

Responsibility - Exerts effort and perseverance toward attaining goals. Works to become excellent at doing tasks by setting high standards, paying attention to details, working well even when assigned an unpleasant task, and displaying a high level of concentration.

Social skills - Demonstrates understanding, friendliness, adaptability, empathy, and politeness in new and ongoing group settings. Asserts self in familiar and unfamiliar social situations. Relates well to others. Responds appropriately. Takes an interest in what others say and do.

Self-management - Assesses own knowledge, skills, and abilities accurately; sets well-defined and realistic personal goals. Monitors progress toward goal attainment and motivates self through goal achievement. Exhibits self-control and responds to feedback unemotionally and non defensively. A “self-starter.”

Integrity/honesty - Can be trusted. Recognizes when faced with making a decision or acting in ways that may break with commonly held personal or societal values. Understands the impact of violating these beliefs and codes in respect to an organization, self, or others. Chooses an ethical course of action.


IV. Resources

Manages time - Selects important, goal-related activities and ranks them in order of importance. Allocates time to activities and understands, prepares, and follows schedules.

Manages money - Uses or prepares budgets, including making cost and revenue forecasts. Keeps detailed records to track budget performance and makes appropriate adjustments.

Manages material and facility resources - Acquires, stores, and distributes materials, supplies, parts, equipment, space, or final products in order to make the best use of them.

Manages human resources - Assesses people’s knowledge, skills, abilities, and potential. Identifies present and future workload. Makes effective matches between individual talents and workload. Monitors performance and provides feedback.

V. Systems & Technology

Understands systems - Knows how social, organizational, and technological systems work and operates effectively within them. Makes suggestions to modify systems to improve products or services, and develops new or alternative systems maintenance and quality control.

Uses technology - Judges which set of procedures, tools, or machines will produce the desired results. Understands the overall intent and the proper procedures for setting up and operating machines, including computers and their programming systems. Prevents, identifies, or solves problems in machines, computers, and other technology.

VI. Informational Skills

Acquires and evaluates information - Identifies need for data. Obtains it from existing sources or creates it and evaluates its relevance and accuracy.

Organizes and maintains information – Organizes processes and maintains written or computerized records and other forms of information in a systematic fashion.

Interprets and communicates information - Selects and analyzes information and communicates the results to others using oral, written, graphic, pictorial or multimedia methods.

VII. Interpersonal Skills

Participates as a member of a team - Works cooperatively with others and contributes to group effort with ideas, suggestions, and effort. Resolves differences for the benefit of the team and takes personal responsibility for accomplishing goals.

Teaches others - Helps others obtain necessary information and skills. Identifies training needs and supplies job information to help others see its use and relevance to tasks.

Serves clients, customers - Works and communicates with clients and customers to satisfy their expectations. Actively listens to clients and customers to avoid misunderstandings and identify needs. Communicates in a positive manner, especially when handling complaints or conflict.

Exercises leadership - Communicates thoughts, feelings, and ideas to justify a position; encourages, persuades, convinces, or otherwise motivates an individual or groups; responsibly challenges existing procedures and policies.

Works with cultural diversity - Works well with men, women, and those with a variety of ethnic, social, or educational backgrounds. Bases impressions on individual performance, not on stereotypes.