On this page, we offer the introduction to the topic of "competences". This chapter will cover explanation of what exactly “competence” is together with simple exercises how you can explain it to your participants. Along with this, we will focus on the competences developed in volunteering activities and how they can be useful in our personal and professional lives.
The word competence can be defined as, for instance:
There are three components of the competence:
We can divide the competences into two categories:
“Hard competences” (sometimes referred to as “hard skills”, but as the word “competence” covers skills, but also knowledge and attitudes, we prefer to use the word “competence” to “skill”) - something you can learn from books or by heart and practice by hands, such as math, accounting, programming or IT in general, graphic design, writing articles, statistics, etc.
“Soft competences” (sometimes referred to as “soft skills” or “people skills and self- management skills”) - are the activities that you do to manage yourself and manage or work with other people, such as communication, flexibility, independence, teamwork, or leadership.
To imagine what we practically mean with the competence, here are some examples how competences are linked with situations that happen to us in our real life or while volunteering. Those competences can emerge through various sub tasks and consideration in the build-up of the situation or the objective.
Situation 1: Organisation of a multi-day international meeting
Sub-tasks: communication with participants, considering the different expectations and experiences of the participants, be able to adapt spontaneously to satisfy the needs of the group, prioritising individual needs and keep track of the group objectives.
Competences: leadership (if you’re coordinating), communication, creativity and problem solving, flexibility, project management.
Situation 2: Planning a weekend trip with friends
Sub-tasks: communication with participants, considering the different expectations of the participants, covering back-up plan.
Competences: leadership, communication, creativity and problem solving.
See more of the situations that every volunteer can go through.
Situation 3: Individual travel to a foreign country
Sub-tasks: effective communication in a foreign language, cultural consideration, advance preparation of the “field”, planning different options (accommodation, transportation, food, etc.).
Competences: foreign language, work with information, intercultural communication, independence, self-management, communication.
Situation 4: Planning a study session with a friend before an exam
Sub-tasks: consider different work styles and rhythms, planning a suitable and effective study schedule, effective and fair sharing of duties, consider other resources if an unsolved problem arises
Competences: leadership, communication, creativity and problem solving, teamwork, effectivity, work with information
Situation 5: Applying for a job and preparing for an interview
Sub-tasks: effective written and oral communication, analysis of the job description, ability to prove computer literacy skills, targeted self-promotion, promote flexible attitude.
Competences: work with information, computer literacy, promotion, effectivity, communication, flexibility.
Situation 6: Coaching a sports team
Sub-tasks: sensitive and considerate dialogue with the players, promotion of the results, dynamic and inclusive training, management of player’s schedules, effective and inclusive observation.
Competences: (intercultural) communication, promotion, leadership, teamwork, effectivity, creativity and problem solving.
Situation 7: Helping foreigners find their way
Sub-tasks: having an open-minded and resourceful communication, be flexible and aware of your own environment.
Competences: intercultural communication, foreign language, creativity and problem solving.