Skills Vs Competencies

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Have you noticed how upskilling has become a pretty big deal recently? I suspect it has to do a lot with increased focus on being happier and more productive. A person that has more skills is more likely to be better at work, which means an increase in pay, right? 

And it’s not just individuals who obsess about this kind of growth. If they’re doing their job right, management also wants their teams to upskill and be the best version of themselves. Think: The Power Rangers after they’ve morphed.  

It’s safe to say, we’re in a culture of upskilling currently. It’s all about adding new skills, growing old ones, and training yourself on skills you didn’t even know you needed.  

But, have you ever stopped to think, what happens when you gain all those skills? Do they sit like so many pennies in a piggy bank? Or are you actually putting them to use? 

This is where competencies come in.  

Let’s step back a bit, first, though, to lay it out.  

A skill is knowing how to do a task.  

A competency is knowing when to do that task, and the best way to implement it.  

Say you learned two skills recently. One is how to ride a bike and the other is how to drive a car. Both of these skills can be used for the same end, which is getting places quickly.  

Now, the big day has come, and you’re ready to get somewhere quickly. The place is a small path running along the river and the start of it is only a block from where you’re located. Competency is knowing to take the bike and not the car.  

In a flipped scenario, you may need to get across town, and only a busy highway leads there. Again, competency is knowing to take the car, not the bike.  

Competencies translate across industries. Gardeners need to know the best time to transplant their sprouts. Architects need to know when their model is ready for analysis. Baseball pitchers need to know when to toss the ball.  

When upskilling, it’s pretty important to use a platform that focuses on gaining competencies just as much as gaining skills.  



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