What are skills?

What are skills?

Skills are abilities that are developed through life and work experiences.

A skill is the ability to do something. We develop skills through experiences in life and work. 

Skills can be simple, such as making a bed, or more complex such as playing a musical instrument.

In the workplace you'll use a combination of technical and personal skills.

Technical skills

Technical skills are particular skills needed for a job. There are two types of technical skills - specialised technical skills and basic technical skills. 

Specialised technical skills are for doing a specific job, such as being able to use a nail hammer to build a house. The second type relates to basic technical skills, such as having a driver's licence.

You would list these two types of technical skills in your CV .

Specialised technical skills

Examples of specialised technical skills include:

  • ability to use a specific computer program
  • ability to insert a drip into an arm
  • a heavy driver's licence

Basic technical skills

These are basic technical skills most people need.

Computing skills

Most jobs need you to have basic computing skills and the ability to learn how to use new technology quickly.

Driver's licence

Many jobs involve driving – not just bus drivers or taxi drivers. You may need a car to work evenings.

Literacy and numeracy skills

Literacy (being able to read and write) and numeracy (being able to do simple calculations and make sense of numbers) are the two most basic skills employers need. 

How do I get technical skills?

Technical skills are usually learned through study, training or work experience.

Personal skills

These are skills, qualities or attitudes that you bring to a workplace. They are sometimes called transferable skills or employability skills because they are skills that can be useful in many types of jobs. 

Examples of personal skills include:

  • motivating and leading other people
  • having a good eye for detail
  • planning and organising
  • problem solving.

How do I get personal skills?

You can pick up personal skills from study, training, work and work experience. You can also learn these skills in your daily life.

Develop personal skills from your daily life

  • Household activities – budgeting, childcare, repairing vehicles, cleaning.
  • Voluntary work – fundraising, community activities, environmental work.
  • Recreation and hobbies – leading a sports team, creating art, social media.
  • Education activities – doing online courses or evening courses.

Discover the skills needed to work at Moana NZ - video


Brook Ruscoe talks to the team at Moana NZ about the types of skills needed in the fishing industry – 5.56 mins.

Brook: Hello, hello. So I've arrived at fisheries company, Moana New Zealand, and this place is huge! And look, all I have to do is sign into this flash computer,and someone comes out to meet me. Let's check this place out.

Alyx: Kia ora, ko Alyx taku ingoa, no Ngāti Whātua ahau, and I'm the communications assistant for Moana New Zealand.

Brook: Alyx has a degree in science, works on the sustainability team for her iwi, and was awarded a scholarship to spend a year in Japan to study all things fish, and today, she's going to show us around.

Alyx: This is where the engine room of our company is. So a lot of our workers come in here, they start around 4.30 in the morning. So we have a load of fish come in, they'll skin it, fillet it, pack it up in the ice, and ship it out that afternoon to all our customers. Freshest product!

Brook: I couldn't come to one of New Zealand's biggest fisheries companies, if I didn't get in the factory. So, I'm going in.

Anastasia: I'm like a big mama in the factory. Brook: Anastasia is the definition of adaptable.She's a packer, a boner, a knifehand, she knows everything about the factory. This even got her a promotion to a full-time training manager. Oosh.

Anastasia: You have to have the right attitude towards your staff. I'm like a person that listens, and also I have a heart for everyone in our factory.

Brook: And she can dance! Now she told me, if I was willing to learn, I could work here. I got this.

Michelle: My name's Michelle Cherrington, I'm the group communications manager for Moana New Zealand. I'm from Whakatane, Ngāti Awa. It's not necessarily about the qualifications that you've got on a piece of paper, it’s

about the time that you give, the interest that you show, the curiosity that you show and the things that you do outside of your work or study, school life.

Alyx: I left my high-paid desk job with a computer and a warm office to go and work in 'grow it sheds’ with water and beanies and head lamps and it wasn't the most glamorous thing I've ever had to do. It was definitely a challenging environment for me, but looking at it as a learning curve, having a positive attitude towards something I might not have necessarily chosen to be at the top of my list of things to do, did lead me to where I am today, absolutely.

Brook: This isn't gonna go very long. (laughter)

Nathan: Snapper

Brook: Blue cod

Nathan: Red cod

Brook: Hoki

Nathan: Baracuda

Brook: Moki

Nathan: Tarakihi

Brook: Shark

Nathan: John Dory

Brook: Nemo?

Nathan: Kia ora my name is Nathan Reid, I work at Moana New Zealand.

Brook: Nathan knows his fish. He started as a fisherman fresh out of high school, headed off to uni to get a degree in business, and like Alyx, he got a scholarship to head to Japan and now looks after hundreds of workers all over the world.

Nathan: In my current role I look after projects, I look after advocacy stuff, I look after fishermen, there's so many different roles you can do, and different avenues you can come from. For any rangatahi coming through it’s have

a crack, you know, don't worry about where it is today, think about where it can be tomorrow. If you work hard today, the opportunity might not be there now but it'll come, you work hard, you know, you keep putting your hand up.

Brook: That willingness to learn. Nathan: Yeah willingness to learn, you know you'll kick yourself later if you didn't try something and you missed out, missed those opportunities.

Alyx: So manaakitanga is one of our core values here at Moana New Zealand. So it's about making sure that when we have guests and visitors that they are well looked after and that they feel welcome. It's also about making sure that our people are looked after, whether they're in the factory every day, whether they're in the office every day, and so it's important for us as Māori and as non-Māori to just show hospitality.

Brook: Time to head to the Coromandel where the oysters live, yeah boy.

Tukumana: Kia ora I'm Tukumana, I'm an oyster shucker. I work at Moana New Zealand.

Brook: As you can tell, I'm a natural. These guys are the local oyster shucking champs, and get through about 2,000 oysters a day. And they get paid per oyster, chur.

Tukumana: I didn't open first, I was in the packing room. It was sort of train up, and then I wanted to open just ‘cause I knew there was more money in opening, and from there yeah just...

Brook: Worked your way up?

Tukumana: Worked my way up and got in there. I guess they gave me the job because I wanted to do it.

Brook: And just like that, it's home time. I've met so many awesome people at this place. It's obvious that these guys make their jobs fun which helps them get to work every day. There are hundreds of different types of jobs here, so whether you wanted to be a fisherman, work in the factory or at a computer, and if you have the right attitude and are willing to learn, these guys all reckon you could become the CEO. That guy was saying you need to be ready to learn stuff. Well, you do that the whole time, right? So when you go for that interview show that you're interested in the company and the job. Do a bit of checking out online, and prepare some questions to ask them. Karawhuia! Check out some more awesome Māori business stories in the video section, or visit careers.govt.nz/maia


Next step

Your next step is to figure out what skills you have.

Updated 12 Jul 2019