Non-Technical Skills

Non-technical skills  (NTS) are social, cognitive and personal skills that can enhance the way you or your staff carry out technical skills, tasks and procedures. By developing these skills, people in safety-critical roles can learn how to deal with a range of different situations.

Why are Non-Technical Skills important?

NTS are an important part of competence and competence management. They improve the management of operational risk by optimising performance and the management of threats and errors when they occur. The diagram below shows how NTS are integral to competence.

Image of the key skills involved in competency

What are Non-Technical Skills?

There are seven categories of NTS which can be applied to any operational, safety-critical role. These are:

  • Situational awareness
  • Conscientiousness
  • Communications
  • Decision making and action 
  • Co-operation and working with others 
  • Workload management 
  • Self-management 

A full list of the NTS skills can be found in RSSB's NTS Leaflet.

What support does RSSB provide?

RSSB’s Human Factors team support the development and integration of NTS through guidance and training. These provide information on what NTS are and how they can be applied to competence management. 


You can view the original research overview (T869) and the implementation guidance on SPARK (T869). Additionally, members can access our ‘Summary guide to integrating NTS into rail safety critical roles’ and ‘A Good Practice Guide to integrating NTS into rail safety critical roles’ in RSSB’s human factors toolkit.

Training and development

RSSB provide several NTS training options. This includes an NTS integration and awareness course as well as an NTS refresher course. The learning objectives and course content for these can be found on our human factors courses page

Additionally, RSSB can provide bespoke NTS courses based around organisations learning objectives and requirements, which can be held at their preferred location.

For RSSB members, the NTS team also run bi-annual forums and annual conferences to share good practice and keep up with new research findings or guidance on NTS. More information can be found on our training page.

The team also provide on-site support by helping members integrate NTS into their competence management system and provide presentations on the benefits of NTS to engage others within organisations. 

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