Skills give time bonuses to your villagers when performing tasks.
Types of skill
Skills can be broken down into six categories:
The foraging skill gives a boost to villagers searching for food, e.g. gathering strawberries or apples.
The forestry skill boosts villagers gathering resources such as wood, grass, rushes etc. It is a much more widely useful skill than you would first imagine. Any resource that is not a foodstuff which is not mined requires the forestry skill instead.
Selectively breeding villagers with this skill would be well worth your time.
This skill is used to mine rocks, precious stones, and ores from the ground.
This skill is only useful in the Riverside village, and is used to obtain fish and other aquatic creatures for your villagers to feast on.
This skill is only useful in the Mountain village, and isused to obtain meat for your villagers.
Having a skill (designated by shields) allows your villager to complete a task more quickly. When you assign a task, the more skilled villagers will be first in the list: you will not have to go searching for them.
Having one shield will allow your villager to complete a task 25% quicker, i.e. a one minute task will take them 45 seconds.
Having two shields will allow your villager to complete the task in half the normal time, i.e. a one minute task will take them 30 seconds.
Three shields (having 'mastery') means that your villager will complete the task in only one-quarter of the normal time, i.e. a one minute task will take them 15 seconds.
Coming of Age
Most villagers are born with two skills that they inherit from their parents. When they come of age (reach their thirteenth birthday), you will be able to choose a third skill shield for them. You can either add to an existing skill to give them an extra bonus, or choose a new skill entirely.
Villagers purchased with gems will be born with extra capabilities, and may be masters in one or more skill before they come of age (although those skills will be useless until they turn thirteen).
You can buy extra shields for your villagers for 95 gems each. This is a very expensive way of adding skills (it is much cheaper to buy new villagers with masteries), although it does ensure that you get the skills you are looking for.
It is not recommended that you buy extra skill shields before your villager gets married.
By paying attention to who you allow your villagers to marry, it is possible to increase your chances of having a particular skill passed on to the next generation. For example, parents who both possess a mining skill are more likely to produce a child who has the mining skill.
Breeding highly-skilled villagers together will not automatically give a highly-skilled child. If you use the free Charm for the pregnancy, you are likely to only pass on one shield from each parent.