As countries starts to figure out how to equip its manpower, current and future, to take on future economy and its variances, trodding down the "lifelong learning" pathway, it is high time we pay attention to how we structure and scaffold the education and training content for current and future demand.

In order to start thinking about scaffolding and structuring, we might even need to start looking at the building blocks, i.e. we need to understand what is skill, knowledge, competencies, and also think about measurement, how do we know the participants have improved after the course. Did it gain new knowledge, increase proficiency in skills.

Figuring It Out

Let's start with understanding what are skills and competencies, perhaps, words that are often use interchangeably but we know they do mean different things when we get to the bottom of it.

Knowledge is acquaintance with or understanding of a science, art, or technique.
Skills the ability to use one's knowledge effectively and readily in execution or performance.
Competence is the quality or state of having sufficient knowledge, judgment, skill, or strength (as for a particular duty or in a particular respect).

Looking at the definitions, we can derive knowledge is the fundamental of building block, and from there lead to skills and from skills gathered into competence.

Task is a usually assigned piece of work often to be finished within a certain time.
(Job) Scope is extent of treatment, activity, or influence (for a job).

So task, depending on what it is will need one to several competencies to complete. For an individual in a job, the job scope requires the individual to complete several tasks as such to be competent in a job means an individuals should have several competencies altogether.

Next Step

So after figuring these out and since we want to train individuals to take on the job of the future (assuming we predict it correctly), we will need to understand what is the job scope as the first step. After defining the job scope, we will then need to break it up into the tasks that individual need to undertake, to exert the required influence in their job role. Once we have the tasks defined, we can break these tasks into skills and competencies.With the basket of skills and competencies, we can then set about to train individuals up.

We know skills build up to each other. For example, we will first need to know how to operate a computer, like how to access files, launch program, save and delete files before we can move on to start learning a data visualization tool.

This means we will need to scaffold the learning, to start with the most basic knowledge needed, using it as foundation and build other skills on top of it. And while we are building up the skills, we will also need to consider increasing the competency level to a proficient level, to allow the individuals become a valued contributor at work.


The point of this article is for my readers and myself to be clearer on all these terms, not to use them too frivolously to a point that it confuses people especially folks whose understanding of it can impact a large group of people through processes and policies.

If any countries are serious about lifelong learning, perhaps a research institute should be set up to looking into how adults learn, how should adults become more competent in their newly acquired skills and reach a proficient level quickly so as to be a valued and continuous contributor at work. :)

What are your thoughts on this? Are you an existing trainer in adult training and want to share your thoughts? Do share your comment and feedback with me! :)

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