Saturday, April 16, 2011

Bat skills

Economists sometimes use the term skill interchangeably with education yet it is sometimes unclear if they have a distinction when they use the term “skill” (see here for an early discussion.) What ONET considers to be skills can be found here - and one skill that I found to be interesting is “Active Listening” defined to be “Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.”

Many years ago I was at a birthday party with K1. It was a Batman themed party and the parents of the birthday child had paid for an actor to be Batman who in turn would play all kinds of games with the kids. What was impressive was the actor’s abilities to remember all of the kids names only after one round of introductions. He would call on the kids by name to do something and look them directly in the eye when he did so, and he made no naming mistakes. This skill made quite an impression on some of the moms as well and at the end of the party when he asked the kids whether they all had a good time and they all answered with a resounding yes, one of the mom’s called out, “Do you have any other tricks you can show us?”

I relate this story to point out the obvious, which is that skill is multidimensional - something that ONET recognizes but economists don’t seem to or don’t acknowledge. How such a skill relates to job tasks and what it’s payoffs are aren’t as clear but I wish Batman all the best.

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