Difference between competencies or skills

When we talk about competencies and skills, it’s essential to grasp their grammatical roles and distinctions. Competencies is a noun that signifies a person’s ability or qualities to effectively perform a job or task. On the other hand, skills refers to the expertise or talent gained through training or experience. Both terms play a crucial role in various professional and educational contexts, highlighting an individual’s capabilities and aptitudes.

Quick Facts Table

NatureBroader qualities or abilitiesSpecific expertise or talents
ScopeEncompasses knowledge, skills, and abilitiesPrimarily focuses on practical and technical abilities
AssessmentBased on performance and behaviorsMeasured through tests and demonstrations
DevelopmentRequires experience, education, and personal developmentCan be acquired through practice and training

Difference Between Competencies or Skills

Definition of Competencies

Competencies refer to the combination of observable and measurable knowledge, skills, abilities, and personal attributes that contribute to enhanced employee performance and ultimately result in organizational success. Competencies are broader than skills and include a person's ability to meet complex demands, by drawing on and mobilizing psychosocial resources (including skills and attitudes) in a particular context.

Definition of Skills

Skills, on the other hand, are the learned capacities or talents that an individual possesses to perform a certain task or job effectively. These are often specific and can be quantified and taught. Skills can be divided into soft skills, like communication and teamwork, and hard skills, such as coding or equipment operation.

Origin of Competencies

  • Competencies originated from the Latin word “competentia,” meaning meeting together, agreement, symmetry. It evolved into a psychological term in the 20th century, focusing on a person’s ability to perform job functions.

Origin of Skills

  • The word skills comes from the Old Norse term “skil,” which means distinction or ability. Historically, it referred to one’s proficiency in a particular task or craft.


  • Competencies is pronounced as /kəmˈpɛtənsiz/.
  • Skills is pronounced as /skɪlz/.

Comparing Competencies and Skills

FocusBroad abilities including knowledge and behaviorSpecific learned abilities
DevelopmentThrough experiences and learningThrough practice and education
MeasurementBased on outcomes and behaviorsThrough direct testing and observation
ExamplesLeadership, teamwork, problem-solvingTyping, programming, welding

Usage in Sentences with Explanations

Use of Competencies in Sentences

  1. The job description lists critical competencies, including communication skills and adaptability.
    • This sentence shows competencies as qualities sought for a job role.
  2. Her competencies in strategic planning were evident in her successful projects.
    • Indicates the broad abilities contributing to job success.
  3. We assess competencies through a series of performance evaluations.
    • Demonstrates how competencies are measured.
  4. Developing leadership competencies is essential for management roles.
    • Highlights the importance of broad qualities for specific positions.
  5. The program focuses on enhancing students’ competencies in critical thinking.
    • Shows the application of competencies in educational settings.

Use of Skills in Sentences

  1. He improved his programming skills by attending a coding bootcamp.
    • Indicates the acquisition of specific skills through training.
  2. Her writing skills have been essential to her career in journalism.
    • Demonstrates the application of skills in a professional context.
  3. We will conduct a skills assessment to determine your proficiency.
    • Shows how skills are measured.
  4. Soft skills like teamwork and communication are just as important as technical skills.
    • Highlights the different types of skills.
  5. She is taking an online course to enhance her digital marketing skills.
    • Indicates the effort to improve specific skills through education.


Understanding the distinction between competencies and skills is fundamental in both professional development and organizational growth. While skills refer to specific learned abilities, competencies encompass a broader range of attributes, including knowledge, abilities, and behaviors. Recognizing and cultivating both can lead to personal advancement and contribute to the success of organizations.

Commonly Asked Questions

  • What are the main differences between competencies and skills?
    • Competencies are broader and include a range of attributes such as behaviors and attitudes, while skills are specific learned abilities.
  • Can skills be part of competencies?
    • Yes, skills are often considered a part of competencies, alongside knowledge and abilities.
  • How can one develop competencies?
    • Through a combination of education, training, and practical experience, focusing on both personal and professional growth.
  • Are competencies more important than skills?
    • Both are important, but competencies offer a more holistic view of an individual’s capability and potential.

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