What is Skill? An Inter-Disciplinary Synthesis

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This synthesis is concerned with the definition of the word ‘skill’. It argues that the word skill often has different meanings when being used in different contexts. Economists, sociologists and psychologists all ascribe high importance to skills, yet frequently define skills in different ways. Skill and competence are often interchanged. A simple functional concept is suggested that offers the prospect of dialogue and progress in skills analysis. The author argues that skills have three key features: they are Productive, Expandable and Social.

Published with permissions granted by Francis Green. This paper also formed (after some adaptations) Chapter 2 of his book: Skills and Skilled Work An Economic and Social Analysis, published by Oxford University Press.

This paper may be cited or briefly quoted in line with the usual academic conventions, and for personal use. However, this paper must not be published elsewhere (such as mailing lists, bulletin boards etc.) without the author’s explicit permission.

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