skill based vs knowledge based

Skill-based education Vs Knowledge-based education?   What is the difference?

“Knowledge is the pre-requisite for true skills” – By knowledge we mean the information you acquire from books, newspapers, magazines, encyclopedias, webinars, the internet, school/college, etc. They can be transferred from person to person.   In other words, it is a process of understanding something.   In contrast, skills refer to the ability to apply knowledge to specific situations or contexts (ie., they are the actionable or behavioral manifestation of expertise),  which are developed with practice and cannot be transferred to another person.  In simple words, it is the ability to do something perfectly well.  For eg in college during the course of academic study,  we study various subjects as part of our curriculum, which is nothing but knowledge.  But, when that knowledge is applied to doing some real-time projects in companies or elsewhere, it is a skill, which is developed through practice and by doing more projects.  Let’s take another example of football.  You are an enthusiast of the game of football.  You are well aware of the rules of the game, understand the techniques, know all the team and the best player in each team, the statistics of all the teams, etc., But, this can only makes you a knowledgeable person in the game of football.  But to become a good player, you must get onto the field and play football, practice daily, know the rules of the game, develop your techniques and improve your skills, and participate in tournaments.  This will make you a skilled player in football.

To develop your skill, acquire the knowledge only to the extent that is required.  For instance, to learn how to drive a car, you don’t have to know everything about the car like its architectural design, combustion process, circuits, or other internal functioning.   Only the essential functions required to move a car like changing gears, applying the accelerator, applying the brakes, clutch, steering the car, etc need to be known.

Difference between Knowledge and skill:

Knowledge Skill
1 Process of acquiring information through education or self-acquired through observation and study. Applying the knowledge to practice.  They are the action and behavioral manifestation of knowledge
2 Transferred from one person to another They are developed over time through practice and experience
3 Knowledge is generic Skill is specific
4. Learners have the opportunity to develop an understanding of the subject. Learners have the opportunity to put their talents into practice with the knowledge
5 They are factual information Allows for self-guided exploration
6 Instructor-centric Learner-centric
7 Focused on the quantitative aspect ie how much knowledge has been acquired Focused on the qualitative aspect ie how the knowledge is used to develop real-world applications or how a doctor treats a patient
8 Knowledge can be theoretical or practical depending on a subject Skill is proficiency developed through practical application and experience.
9 Knowledge is about knowing the conflict-resolution techniques Skill is how well you resolve conflicts.
10 Eg., An MBA student acquiring important information about Sales and Marketing Eg., Translate that knowledge into meaningful Marketing strategies.


When we are talking about knowledge-based education, we are talking about formal education imparting a broad curriculum structure based on traditional subjects that is content-focused.  Also, various options are provided to students to move to a specialized stream of their choice viz., Science, Commerce, Arts, Engineering, Medical, Architecture, etc.  For instance, a person desirous of moving to a medical profession selects a science stream with biology as a specialization. But, there are certain skills that are not acquired through knowledge-based education like soft skills which are essential ingredients in the workplace.  Hence, developing a transversal skill (ie., by transversal we literally mean a line cutting across other lines in a plane, but in this context, we are referring to soft-skill which can be applied across all jobs at the workplace)  is essential.   Transversal skills include interpersonal skills (ie., presentation skills, communication skills, organizational skills, teamwork, etc.,), critical & innovative thinking, and intrapersonal skills (ie., self-discipline, self-motivation, perseverance, Analytical thinking, complex problem solving, etc). A skill-based education is focused on skill development rather than knowledge acquisition.  It helps students develop their transversal skills which can be applied across all domains.  The measure of success in this model is the manner in which it is applied to different situations to solve different problems

The purpose of having sound knowledge is to transform learners into independent thinkers and professionals who are ready to face future challenges ahead.   Skills are the product of fluency in knowledge in a particular area.  Both knowledge and skills are essential to achieve the goal. Therefore understanding the skill gap (ie the gap between what employers need their staff to do, and what the staffs are capable of doing)  is important. Having gained exceptional education in academics (knowledge), but lack of exposure to the practical demands at the workplace (skill) can make it hard to hit the ground running initially in a new job.  Therefore, an education policy where, instead of spoon-feeding the students by giving access to every content and explaining how each of them works, academic strategists must cultivate requisite skills and behaviors in students to boost their cognitive skills such as logic and reasoning, problem-solving,  Faster learning with multiple ways of absorbing information and grasping concepts, etc, develop conflict resolution skills, develop effective research, etc wherein students learn how to apply knowledge in real-life situations.  It doesn’t mean that the universities are not worthwhile. Rather, it means that universities should encourage students to apply their minds more often.

Ultimately, knowledge can take you only this far.  It is the practical application of knowledge (ie., skill) that sets you apart from the rest. With the skill gap continuing to widen, ensure that you are up-to-date with your knowledge and that your skill gaps are closed as tightly as possible.





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