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A skill is the learned ability to act with determined results with good execution often within a given amount of time, energy, or both. Skills can often be divided into domain-general and domain-specific skills. Some examples of general skills are time management, teamwork and leadership, and self-motivation. In contrast, domain-specific skills would be used only for a certain job, e.g. operating a sand blaster. Skill usually requires certain environmental stimuli and situations to assess the level of skill being shown and used.[1]

A skill may be called an art when it represents a body of knowledge or branch of learning, as in the art of medicine or the art of war.[2] Although the arts are also skills, there are many skills that form an art but have no connection to the fine arts.[3]

People need a broad range of skills to contribute to the modern economy. A joint ASTD and U.S. Department of Labor study showed that through technology, the workplace is changing, and identified 16 basic skills that employees must have to be able to change with it.[4] Three broad categories of skills are suggested and these are technical, human, and conceptual.[5] The first two can be substituted with hard and soft skills, respectively.[6]

Hard skills


Hard skills, also called technical skills, are any skills relating to a specific task or situation. It involves both understanding and proficiency in such specific activity that involves methods, processes, procedures, or techniques.[7] These skills are easily quantifiable unlike soft skills, which are related to one's personality.[8] These are also skills that can be or have been tested and may entail some professional, technical, or academic qualification.[9]

Holistic competency


Holistic competencies is an umbrella term for different types of generic skills (e.g., critical thinking, problem-solving skills, positive values, and attitudes (e.g., resilience, appreciation for others) which are essential for life-long learning and whole-person development.[10][11]

Labor skills


Skilled workers have long had historical import (see division of labour) as electricians, masons, carpenters, blacksmiths, bakers, brewers, coopers, printers and other occupations that are economically productive. Skilled workers were often politically active through their craft guilds.[12]

Life skills


An ability and capacity acquired through deliberate, systematic, and sustained effort to smoothly and adaptively carry out complex activities or job functions involving ideas (cognitive skills), things (technical skills), and/or people (interpersonal skills).[13] [14]

People skills


According to the Portland Business Journal, people skills are described as:[15]

  • understanding ourselves and moderating our responses
  • talking effectively and empathizing accurately
  • building relationships of trust, respect and productive interactions.

A British definition is "the ability to communicate effectively with people in a friendly way, especially in business."[16] The term is already listed in major US dictionaries.[17]

The term people skills is used to include both psychological skills and social skills but is less inclusive than life skills.

Social skills


Social skills are any skills facilitating interaction and communication with others. Social rules and relations are created, communicated, and changed in verbal and nonverbal ways. The process of learning such skills is called socialization.[18]: 5 [19]

Soft skills


Soft skills are a combination of interpersonal people skills, social skills, communication skills, character traits, attitudes, career attributes and emotional intelligence quotient (EQ) among others.[20]

See also



  1. ^ White, Melissa (June 2007). "Book Reviews: Chris Warhurst, Irena Grugulis and Ewar t Keep (eds) The Skills That Matter Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan, 2004, 272 pp. ISBN: 1—4039—0639—4". Work, Employment and Society. 21 (2): 381–382. doi:10.1177/09500170070210021205. ISSN 0950-0170.
  2. ^ "art". Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary. Retrieved 2 March 2021.
  3. ^ King, Catherine R. P.; McCall, Madelon (2 April 2024). "How the fine arts create the finest students: A design thinking study". Higher Education Quarterly. doi:10.1111/hequ.12521. ISSN 0951-5224.
  4. ^ "Publications and Research Search Results, Employment & Training Administration (ETA)". wdr.doleta.gov. U.S. Department of Labor. Archived from the original on 28 April 2018. Retrieved 28 April 2018.
  5. ^ Sommerville, Kerry (2007). Hospitality Employee Management and Supervision: Concepts and Practical Applications. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc. p. 328. ISBN 9780471745228.
  6. ^ Rao, M.S. (2010). Soft Skills - Enhancing Employability: Connecting Campus with Corporate. New Delhi: I. K. International Publishing House Pvt Ltd. p. 225. ISBN 9789380578385.
  7. ^ DuBrin, Andrew (2008). Essentials of Management. Mason, OH: South-Western Cengage Learning. p. 16. ISBN 9780324353891.
  8. ^ Connett, Wendy (31 March 2023). "Hard Skills: Definition, Examples, and Comparison to Soft Skills". Investopedia. Archived from the original on 7 May 2023. Retrieved 17 August 2023.
  9. ^ Carter, Jenny; O'Grady, Michael; Rosen, Clive (2018). Higher Education Computer Science. Cham: Springer. p. 223. ISBN 9783319985893.
  10. ^ Chan, Cecilia K.Y.; Fong, Emily T.Y.; Luk, Lillian Y.Y.; Ho, Robbie (November 2017). "A review of literature on challenges in the development and implementation of generic competencies in higher education curriculum". International Journal of Educational Development. 57: 1–10. doi:10.1016/j.ijedudev.2017.08.010.
  11. ^ Chan, Cecilia K. Y.; Yeung, Nai Chi Jonathan (27 May 2020). "Students' 'approach to develop' in holistic competency: an adaptation of the 3P model". Educational Psychology. 40 (5): 622–642. doi:10.1080/01443410.2019.1648767. S2CID 201383143.
  12. ^ Cowan, Ruth Schwartz (1997). A Social History of American Technology. New York: Oxford University Press. p. 179. ISBN 0-19-504605-6.
  13. ^ "Partners in Life Skills Education : Conclusions from a United Nations Inter-Agency Meeting" (PDF). World Health Organization. 1999. Retrieved 15 July 2018.
  14. ^ WHO 1993, p. 14: °decision-making - problem-solving; °creative thinking - critical thinking; °communication - interpersonal relationships; °self-awareness - empathy; °coping with - emotions and stressors.
  15. ^ Rifkin, H. (18 July 2008). "Invest in people skills to boost bottom line". Portland Business Journal. Archived from the original on 18 July 2008. Retrieved 14 October 2009.
  16. ^ “Macmillan Dictionary” Archived 5 November 2009 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved on 2009-08-18
  17. ^ Dictionary.com definition. Retrieved on 2009-08-18
  18. ^ Clausen, John A. (ed.) (1968) Socialisation and Society, Boston: Little Brown and Company
  19. ^ Macionis, John J. (2013). Sociology (15th ed.). Boston: Pearson. p. 126. ISBN 978-0133753271.
  20. ^ Robles, Marcel M. (12 August 2016). "Executive Perceptions of the Top 10 Soft Skills Needed in Today's Workplace". Business Communication Quarterly. 75 (4): 453–465. doi:10.1177/1080569912460400. S2CID 167983176.