A skill is a learned ability to perform competently in a given activity. Skills can be developed through training courses and workshops, or through experience in real work settings. It is important to develop skills that improve the target group’s employability and market value.

Two broad, important skill categories are:

  • Hard skills (these refer to the technical, knowledge skills needed to carry out a given task, usually a work-related one). Formal education and work experiences are appropriate settings for acquiring and developing hard skills.
  • Soft skills (these refer to the interpersonal relationship skills, namely listening, negotiating, self-esteem, leadership, communication, creative thinking, work ethic, teamwork, networking, problem solving and critical thinking). These can be developed through involvement and empowerment. Non-formal education and organizational culture are appropriate settings for acquiring, developing and improving soft skills.

Generally speaking, it could be said that the main methods for skills development are:

  • Practical/on the job training. Training in the workplace enables learning and the acquisition of real competencies that are deeply connected to future professional experiences.
  • Work experience (learning on the job)
  • Team work experience

Learning new skills, developing and improving existing ones, is often a challenging process. Challenges can be motivating, of course, but they can also be demotivating. When working with people that have a low sense of self-worth or negative experiences in other learning-related contexts, your commitment to tailored and considerate skills development is crucial to overcome possible difficulties.