Skill management vs. competence management

by Apr 27, 2022Competency Management

Skill management supports operational business processes, competence management supports strategic ones. However, the terms are often used synonymously.

Anyone who deals more intensively with the topic of skills management will sooner or later come across the question: What is actually the difference between skills and competence management?

In fact, the terms are often used synonymously, because even in professional circles there is no consensus on this topic. This is related to the use of the terms over time. 20 years ago, competence and skills management were more clearly separated. However, with the greater use of English terms in German-speaking countries, their meaning has converged.

What is the difference?

The difference lies in the definition of the terms skill and competence. Skillis generally translated as ability. We agree with that here.

Definition of ability: “mental, practical facility that enables one to do something”.

Definition of competence: “On the one hand, competence refers to qualification or ability. On the other hand, competence often also means the authority or authorisation given to an employee to perform certain tasks.”


We see that competence according to this definition has a somewhat broader meaning than ability. Both terms cover facility, qualification and knowledge to do a task. However, in the human resource field, competence often also includes the authority of an employee.

Tasks of skills and competence management

This difference is also reflected in the focus on the areas of skills and competence management. The following list highlights the differences in the tasks of both areas.

Tasks of Skill Management

  • Skills recording
  • Finding employees with specific competences
  • Setting targeted further trainings
  • Comparison between existing and necessary skills

Competence management tasks

  • Identifying core competencies
  • Modelling competency profiles
  • Harmonise competence resources with the strategic business objectives

We see that skill management is very practice, or operational, oriented, while competence management works more from the perspective of strategic business goals.


J. M. Mühlbacher, Kompetenzmanagement als Grundlage strategischer Wettbewerbsvorteile. Wien: Linde, 2007.

About the Author

Markus Skergeth B.Sc.

Markus Skergeth B.Sc.

Markus is the CEO of Skilltree and an expert in competency management. He also writes in this blog on topics such as New Work, work motivation, and Data Science.

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