Skill Acquisition: Definition, Stages, Types and Importance

Skill Acqusition

Skill acquisition has become a buzz world among young people today. Probably because the increased awareness of entrepreneurship. And of course one way of becoming an entrepreneur is to build a business around one’s skill. So this has led many people into trying to gain one skill or the other.

In fact in a country like Nigeria where the rate of graduate unemployment is so high, it will be an error for one to graduate from higher institution of learning without acquiring one skill or the other.

Today, we shall look at what skill acquisition really means, the different types, stages and its overall importance to entrepreneurship development.

What is Skill Acquisition?

Skill acquisition is an aspect of entrepreneurship that has to do with the learning and mastering of a particular art, vocation or profession with the goal of earning a living from it.

Even if one is not looking into venturing into entrepreneurship acquuring a skill  can still more than anything else serve as an edge when in a very competitive employment race.

Stages of Skill Acquisition

The most popular classification of the stages of learning which is application here is Fitts & Posner’s motor learning theory.

According to the theory, there are three basic stages of skill acquisition. They are:

Cognitive Stage

Associative Stage

Autonomous Stage

Cognitive Stage

The first phase is called the cognitive stage, also known as the novice phase of learning. During this stage of learning the performer is trying to work out what to do. The theory suggests learners attempt to cognitively understand the requirements and parameters of movements.

This is the first stage in a skill acquisition programme. It is also known as the novice stage of learning.

At this stage, the learner tries to learn a skill by receiving verbal or visual knowledge.

This is the stage where the learner, student or apprentice tries to understand the concept of what to do without considering how to do it yet.

The coach or mentor starts by explaining in details the concepts,theories and principles upon which the skill is built.

Associative Stage

After the cognitive stage it is now time to attempt to perform.

During the associative stage the learner is learning how to perform the skill well and how to adapt the skill. At this stage the performer is attempting to translate declarative knowledge into procedural knowledge. In other words, the performer is now transforming what to do into how to do it.

You can view this stage as the stage of practice, practice and practice. It is at this stage where the learner starts improving his performances after lots of practice.

At this stage the coach keeps a close eye on the practice process and gives the necessary recommendations.

Autonomous Stage

The autonomous stage, which is also the last stage of skill acquisition is the stage where the student has gained enough information and exposure and is beginning to practice diligently. In fact, at this stage his  performance has become automatic. He can even go ahead to accomplish a task without any conscious thought as it has become ingrained in his movements. Also at this point he can work for a given period without the direct supervision of the mentor or coach. However, the final product must be presented to the coach for inspection and corrections.

Types of Skill Acquisition

Broadly speaking, there are two major types of skills one can acquire either for entrepreneurship purpose or for career advancement. They are hard skill and soft skill.

Hard Skills

Hard skills are the core technical skills required for a job or profession or vocation.  They are usually learned and mastered through long term structured training, education and experience.

They are the core skills needed to be considered in any industry. For example carpentry is a hard skill and until you have undergone a carpentry skill acquisition programme for a given number of month no one would even want to consider you as a Capenter in a furniture business.

It is very easy to start a business around a hard skill as there will always be that primary demand for the skill.

Examples of Hard Skills

  1. Computer software knowledge
  2. Graphic design
  3. Data analysis
  4. Project management
  5. Marketing
  6. Copywriting
  7. Computer programming
  8. Foreign languages
  9. Typing
  10. Search engine optimization (SEO)
  11. Customer service
  12. Accounting
  13. Business development
  14. Social media management
  15. Financial analysis
  16. Engineering
  17. Baking
  18. Carpentry
  19. Tailoring
  20. Show Making
  21. Driving
  22. Tiling etc
Tailoring as a hard skill is an example of skill acquisition
Tailoring as a hard skill is an example of skill acquisition

Anyone with any of the above skills can easily set up a business of his or her own around that particular skill and there will never be shortage of patronage.

Yes, there will never be shortage of patronage if the person know the job very well. However, there is a caveat. Hard skill is what you need to start a business, but without the necessary soft skills you will not make a great success of that business.

And this will lead us to discuss the second type of skill acquisition  – soft skill.

Soft Skills

Soft skills are non-technical skills that relate to how you work. They are not the core skill that facilitate the service or products the company offers. But they determine how well the job is done or the service is delivered.

It often include how you interact with colleagues, how you solve problems, and how you manage your work or your time. Some people refer to soft skill as relationship skills because it most times have to do with how you relate to your core job or the people around (including colleagues and clients).

Soft skills are usually not included in the typical curriculum of schools. But you can develop it on your own at work or school. You can also develop it through volunteer activities, and by participating in training programs.

Examples of Soft Skills

  1. Adaptability
  2. Assertiveness
  3. Attention to details
  4. Communication
  5. Compromise
  6. Creative thinking
  7. Dependability
  8. Delegation
  9. Emotional Intelligence
  10. Leadership
  11. Listening
  12. Work ethic
  13. Teamwork
  14. Positivity
  15. Time management
  16. Motivation
  17. Problem-solving
  18. Critical thinking
  19. Conflict resolution
  20. Negotiation

Both hard skill and soft skill are critical in work place. However each time skill acquisition is mentioned in the concept of entrepreneurship it generally refers to hard skills.

And for that reason we shall focus more on the importance of hard skill in entrepreneurship development.

Importance of Skill Acquisition

There are many reasons for skill acquisition and some advantages attached to them. In respect of this, Skill Acquisition in every sector is considered very essential. This is due to some importance to the individuals and the community at large. Generally speaking, the importance of skill acquisition are:

1. It enhances entrepreneurship development

2. Job creation

3. Production of enough skilled workers

4. Abundance supply of artisans and vocational workers

5. Reduction in youth restiveness

6. Crime Reduction

7. It helps one raise business capital


Skill Acquisition is very important for the overall development of the economy of any nation. Through organized skill acquisition program young people get to pick up some relevant skills that build businesses, become independent and even create jobs for others.

Graduates or no graduates there is need for every young person who wants to have a fulfilling career to acquire a skill. No matter the rate of unemployment, anyone who has a skill can never be out of job.

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