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What is the difference between hard skills and soft skills?

Hard skills are usually related to professional knowledge, tools, or techniques that allow us to work within our profession. Examples of hard skills are designing a bridge; developing software; applying taxation laws; and injecting a vaccine.

Prerequisite Hard Skills


Prerequisite hard skills are not taught in the WCC program but they are vital for success in any of the program courses. These are the hard skills every professional must have as a basis for soft skills: Effective Language Understanding written materials and writing at an intermediate level; understanding oral communication and speaking clearly and fluently at an intermediate level; being familiar with some professional language. Basic Numeracy Skills Understanding and applying basic mathematical concepts and basic visual representations of numerical data (charts, tables etc.). Basic Computer Skills Using appropriate tools and technology for basic tasks (using Word, Excel, PowerPoint, email, internet); gathering and managing information using a computer. Although a strong command of the English language is essential to obtain employment in a nonprofessional environment, employers in Canada also require high levels of communication and soft skills. Soft skills are the complete collection of our social, communication, and self-management behaviours. These are the skills that enable us to work effectively and fit in at the workplace. Examples of soft skills are: demonstrating integrity and ethical behaviour; being motivated and having a positive attitude; and critically analyzing information. Professional communication skills are an integral part of soft skills, focusing mostly on effective exchange of information. Examples for professional communication skills (as part of overall soft skills) are negotiating and influencing; interviewing and counselling; working in a team; and delivering presentations. Because of cultural differences, what might be considered effective communication and behaviours in some countries or cultures might be viewed as unclear communication or inappropriate behaviours in the Canadian workplace. Workplace culture (i.e., the collection of unwritten rules in the workplace) can be very different from company to company, let alone from country to country. Culture-based professional communication and soft skills include many abilities and behaviours. Some are more basic, others are more complex, depending on professional requirements and occupational level.

Fundamental Soft Skills


This level of skills is required for all professionals at all levels of occupation. These create the foundation/basis for all workplace tasks and operations, from the most basic to the most advanced.

Advanced Soft Skills


This level of skill is required for professionals who are working or seeking employment at an intermediate to advanced level occupation. These build on the effective use of the fundamental communication and soft skills. The advanced skills are then used as essential building blocks for leadership skills.