A skill is the ability to carry out a task with determined results often within a given amount of time, energy, or both. Skills can often be divided into domain-general and domain-specific skills. For example, in the domain of work, some general skills would include time management, teamwork and leadership, self-motivation and others, whereas domain-specific skills would be used only for a certain job. Skill usually requires certain environmental stimuli and situations to assess the level of skill being shown and used.
People need a broad range of skills to contribute to the modern economy. A joint ASTD and U.S. Department of Labor study showed that through technology, the workplace is changing, and identified 16 basic skills that employees must have to be able to change with it. Three broad categories of skills are suggested and these are technical, human, and conceptual. The first two can be substituted with hard and soft skills, respectively.
Hard skills, also called technical skills, are any skills relating to a specific task or situation. It involves both understanding and proficiency in such specific activity that involves methods, processes, procedures, or techniques. These skills are easily quantifiable unlike soft skills, which are related to one's personality. These are also skills that can be or have been tested and may entail some professional, technical, or academic qualification.
An ability and capacity acquired through deliberate, systematic, and sustained effort to smoothly and adaptively carryout complex activities or job functions involving ideas (cognitive skills), things (technical skills), and/or people (interpersonal skills).
Soft skills are a combination of interpersonal people skills, social skills, communication skills, character traits, attitudes, career attributes and emotional intelligence quotient (EQ) among others.
Hierarchy of Skills
Skills can be categorized based on the level of expertise and motivation. The highest level of engagement corresponds to the craftsman. About 2% of people reach the highest level.