Traditionally representation of competencies has been very difficult using computer-based techniques. This paper introduces competencies, how they are represented, and the related concept of competency frameworks and the difficulties in using traditional ontology techniques to formalise them. A “vaguely” formalised framework has been developed within the EU project TRACE and is presented. The framework can be used to represent different competencies and competency frameworks. Through a case study using an example from the IT sector, it is shown how these can be used by individuals and organisations to specify their individual competency needs. Furthermore it is described how these representations are used for comparisons between different specifications applying ontologies and ontology toolsets. The end result is a comparison that is not binary, but tertiary, providing “definite matches”, possible / partial matches, and “no matches” using a “traffic light” analogy.