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It’s not Skills Gap but Competence Gap that is the Real Concern

    In today’s rapidly evolving world, the importance of skills cannot be denied. However, there is a growing realization that competence gap might be even more concerning than a mere skills gap. In this article, we will delve into the reasons why competence gap is a topic worth discussing and understanding.

    Understanding the Difference

    Skills Gap

    The skills gap primarily refers to the disparity between the skills that job seekers possess and the skills that employers seek. This gap has garnered significant attention as it affects employability and job performance. Individuals may lack specific technical skills or qualifications, leading to a struggle in securing certain roles.

    The skills gap has been widely discussed in recent years, particularly in industries that require specialized knowledge. For example, in the field of data science, there’s a significant skills gap. Many data science job seekers have a solid grasp of programming and statistics but lack proficiency in machine learning techniques and tools. This gap hinders their ability to meet the specific requirements of data science employers who are seeking professionals capable of handling complex machine learning algorithms and predictive modelling.

    Competence Gap

    On the other hand, competence gap extends beyond just skills. It encompasses a broader range of attributes that individuals need to excel in their professional and personal lives. This includes emotional intelligence, adaptability, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills. Competence goes beyond the ability to perform specific tasks; it’s about how effectively you can apply your skills in real-world situations.

    Competence is often referred to as a set of “soft skills” that are equally, if not more, important than technical skills. These soft skills include emotional intelligence, adaptability, leadership, and the ability to work effectively in a team. Let’s explore teamwork as an example. In a corporate setting, competence in teamwork means not only collaborating effectively with colleagues but also fostering a harmonious work environment. A competent team player can resolve conflicts, support team members, and ensure that everyone works cohesively toward common goals.

    The Real Concern

    The competence gap is more worrying than the skills gap for several reasons:

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    In our fast-paced world, change is constant. An individual might have the necessary skills for a job, but without competence, they may struggle to adapt to new challenges and technologies. Competence is about being flexible and open to learning, making it a crucial factor in today’s workplace.

    Adaptability is a core competence that enables individuals to thrive in an ever-changing environment. Take the retail industry, for example. With the rise of e-commerce, physical retail stores had to adapt or face decline. Competent retailers not only embraced online sales but also reimagined their in-store experiences. They effectively integrated technology, like interactive displays and mobile apps, to enhance customer engagement. Competence in adaptability allowed these retailers to stay competitive in a changing market.


    Competence includes the ability to think critically and solve complex problems. While skills can be learned, the competence to tackle unforeseen issues is an invaluable asset. Businesses require individuals who can navigate uncertainty and find innovative solutions.

    Problem-solving competence is essential in numerous professions. In the legal field, for instance, attorneys often face intricate cases that require creative solutions. A competent lawyer doesn’t rely solely on legal knowledge but also on their problem-solving skills. They analyse cases from multiple angles, consider legal precedents, and develop innovative strategies to achieve favourable outcomes for their clients. This competence is not only a legal advantage but also a demonstration of the lawyer’s value to their clients.

    Emotional Intelligence

    Understanding and managing emotions, both in oneself and others, is a vital aspect of competence. This skill fosters effective communication, teamwork, and leadership. It’s often the difference between a good employee and a great one.

    Emotional intelligence is pivotal in any role that involves interaction with others. In the field of human resources, for example, HR professionals often deal with employee conflicts and disputes. A competent HR specialist uses emotional intelligence to navigate these situations with empathy and understanding. They can de-escalate tensions, mediate conflicts, and promote a harmonious workplace environment, ultimately benefiting both employees and the organization.


    Leadership demands more than just technical skills. It requires the competence to inspire and guide a team. Effective leaders possess the ability to make decisions under pressure, communicate a vision, and motivate others to achieve common goals.

    Leadership competence is particularly vital in business and organizational settings. Imagine a non-profit organization aiming to make a positive impact in the community. A competent leader not only understands the mission and goals of the organization but can also inspire and motivate volunteers and staff to work tirelessly towards these objectives. They create a sense of purpose, instil enthusiasm, and ensure that everyone is aligned with the organization’s vision.

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    Adaptation to Change

    Competence enables individuals to not only adapt to change but also to drive it. In a world where industries are constantly evolving, those with competence can lead transformation rather than being left behind.

    Competence in adapting to change is especially relevant in the tech industry. Consider the transformation from traditional software development to DevOps. Competent professionals not only embraced this shift but also played a pivotal role in driving it. They recognized the benefits of DevOps in terms of speed, collaboration, and reliability. They championed its adoption in their organizations, leading to improved software development and deployment practices.

    Lifelong Learning

    Competence is closely tied to the willingness and ability to continue learning throughout one’s career. It’s about embracing new challenges and seeking personal and professional growth.

    Lifelong learning is an essential competence in today’s knowledge-driven economy. Take the field of education, for instance. Competent teachers not only convey information but also inspire a love for learning in their students. They adapt to new teaching methods and technologies to keep their students engaged. By modelling lifelong learning, they instil this competence in the next generation, preparing them for success in an ever-changing world.


    Effective communication is a competence that goes beyond language. It involves conveying ideas clearly, listening actively, and adapting your message to different audiences and contexts.

    In the realm of marketing, competent professionals are skilled communicators. They understand the importance of tailoring messages to various demographics. For example, when launching a product, they know how to craft a message that appeals to both tech-savvy millennials and traditional consumers. Their ability to communicate effectively with different target groups can make or break a marketing campaign.

    Time Management

    Competence in time management is the ability to prioritize tasks, set goals, and allocate time effectively. It’s crucial for meeting deadlines and maintaining work-life balance.

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    In the field of project management, time management is a fundamental competence. Project managers need to juggle multiple tasks, adhere to strict timelines, and ensure that resources are allocated efficiently. A competent project manager can create realistic schedules, identify critical paths, and adjust priorities as needed to keep projects on track.


    Competence in creativity involves thinking outside the box, generating innovative ideas, and applying imaginative solutions to challenges.

    In the world of advertising, competence in creativity is the driving force behind successful campaigns. Advertisers aim to capture the audience’s attention and leave a lasting impression. Competent advertisers come up with unique and imaginative concepts that stand out in a crowded marketplace. They take creative risks, such as creating memorable and emotionally impactful advertisements.


    Resilience is the competence to bounce back from setbacks, adapt to adversity, and maintain a positive attitude in the face of challenges.

    In the field of entrepreneurship, competence in resilience is often the key to success. Entrepreneurs encounter numerous obstacles, from financial challenges to market fluctuations. A competent entrepreneur doesn’t become discouraged by setbacks but uses them as learning opportunities. They maintain a positive mindset, adapt their strategies, and persist in pursuing their business goals.

    While skills are essential, competence is the glue that holds them together. It’s the difference between being proficient in a specific area and excelling in a dynamic, ever-changing world. Recognizing the significance of the competence gap can lead to a shift in how we approach education, training, and personal development.


    1. Is competence more important than skills?

    Competence complements skills and is often more important in dynamic environments where adaptability, problem-solving, and emotional intelligence are crucial.

    2. Can competence be developed?

    Yes, competence can be developed through training, self-awareness, and continuous learning.

    3. How can I assess my competence?

    Self-assessment, feedback from peers and mentors, and 360-degree assessments are some ways to gauge your competence.

    4. Are skills and competence the same thing?

    No, skills are a subset of competence. Competence includes skills but also extends to personal attributes and the ability to apply skills effectively.

    5. Can competence be a competitive advantage?

    Absolutely. In many professions, competence sets individuals apart, making them more valuable and sought after by employers.


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