What are Non-Technical Skills?

Non-technical skills (NTS) are cognitive, social, and personal resource skills.

Along with technical and functional skills, non-technical skills can be used as bench marks to assess competence in a particular role.

Non-Technical Skills in Safety Critical Roles

Performance in technical skills can increase when non-technical skills are developed.  Non-technical skills are now recognised for their importance in safety critical roles as an individual’s ability to avoid, perceive, and deal with errors and threats is enhanced when non-technical skills are developed.

Queensland Rail (Australia), reported that Trainee Drivers who had not completed Non-Technical Skills Training were twice as likely to have a SPAD (Signal Passed At Danger), than those who had completed the training.

Non-Technical Skills & Competency Management

The importance of non-technical skills is widely recognised and they feature within the Competency Frameworks of many organisations, including the National Health Service (NHS); oil, gas, and aviation Industries. Governing organisations, such as the Rail Safety and Standards Board (RSSB), advocate the inclusion of Non-technical skills in Competency Management.

You can read our report that came out of the Knowledge Transfer Partnership with the University of Nottingham Human Factors & Ergonomics Department for further information:

“Integrating Non-Technical Skills into Competency Management Systems for all Safety Critical Rolls”

Examples of Non-Technical Skills

  • Situational Awareness
    • attention to detail
    • overall awareness
    • maintaining concentration
    • retention of information
    • anticipation of risk
  • Conscientiousness
    • systematic & thorough approach
    • checking
    • positive attitude towards rules and procedures
  • Communication
    • listening
    • clarity
    • assertiveness
    • sharing of information
  • Decision Making & Action
    • effective decision making
    • timely decision making
    • diagnosing & solving problems
  • Co-operation & Working With Others
    • considering the needs of others
    • supporting others
    • treating others with respect
    • dealing with conflict & agression
  • Workload Management
    • multitasking & selective attention
    • prioritising
    • remaining calm under pressure
  • Self Management
    • motivation
    • confidence & initiative
    • maintaining, & developing, skills & knowledge
    • prepared & organised