I need the English word for when you train to become better at something, and checking my bilingual dictionary, I get the word "skills development". However, I thought "skill" refers primarily to an ability to do a concrete, practical job or activity, something that seems to be supported by dictionaries – for instance, Cambridge dictionary gives examples such as "writing skills", "skill at/in sewing", "skill as a painter" etc. So, now I'm wondering whether the compound ("skills development") has a broader meaning, so that it can be used about all kinds of competence-enhancing training – not only training in practical kinds of work – or whether there is another word that I should use for more abstract learning?

An example would be training to increase your competence as a counselor or pshychologist.

  • 1
    Would you please give us some examples of these "abstract skills/learning"? Commented Mar 12, 2023 at 22:33
  • @PeterJennings Done :)
    – Gerda
    Commented Mar 12, 2023 at 23:06
  • 1
    The "word-request" tag asks for a sample sentence. It also means that you are looking for a single word; from your question, I think that you might be interested in "phrase-request". (I also deleted a couple of other tags that didn't seem to fit.) Commented Mar 13, 2023 at 3:42
  • @MarcInManhattan Thank you! I still haven't quite learnt which tags to use when, so your help and input is much appreciated!
    – Gerda
    Commented Mar 13, 2023 at 12:32

1 Answer 1


Being a counsellor or psychologist is a concrete, practical job or activity. It may not be a manual task, but that makes it no less practical. You can certainly have a skilled counsellor, or a less skilled one. A counsellor's skills can be developed by training.

The skills would be precisely those parts which could be improved by training. Aspects of fundamental personality or temperament which can't be changed, but which make you suitable for counselling are not skills. Skills are related to the practical side of the job.

So skills development is a good phrase to use. There may be others, such as "professional development" and so on.

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