Knowledge, skills, and abilities (aka KSAs) are three different things. And it’s important to know the difference – even though the difference can be subtle.
Knowledge is the theoretical or practical understanding of a subject. For example, an employee might have knowledge of the ADDIE model used in instructional design. This doesn’t mean the employee knows how to be an instructional designer. It means they know the model.
Skills are the proficiencies developed through training or experience. Using the ADDIE example, the employee has demonstrated skills in applying the ADDIE model when designing training programs. Skills are usually something that has been learned. So, we can develop our skills through the transfer of knowledge.
Abilities are the qualities of being able to do something. There is a fine line between skills and abilities. Most people would say the differentiator is whether the thing in question was learned or innate. I think of organization and prioritization as abilities that can help an employee develop their instructional design skills.
The reason we sometimes use the terms interchangeably is because they are all “must-haves” in our career. Recruiters look for knowledge, skills, and abilities during the hiring process. Managers use KSAs when they are considering employees for transfers and promotions. KSAs are used as the company creates and updates their replacement and succession plans.
As we talk more about the skills gap, it will be important to understand the difference because the way we obtain knowledge, skills, and abilities can vary. And if we’re an organization trying to figure out how to solve the skills gap that exists within our workforce, then we have to link the right solutions.
Chosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor. Read the whole story at
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