Essential Skills

Understanding Essential Skills

Essential Skills are the skills needed for work, learning and life. They provide the foundation for learning all other skills and enable people to evolve with their jobs and adapt to workplace change.

Through extensive research, the Government of Canada and other national and international agencies have identified and validated nine Essential Skills. These skills are used in nearly every occupation and throughout daily life in different ways and at different levels of complexity.

There are nine essential skills

  • Reading Text refers to reading material that is in the form of sentences or paragraphs.It generally involves reading notes, letters, memos, manuals, specifications, regulations, books, reports or journals.
  • Document Use refers to tasks that involve a variety of information displays in which words, numbers, icons and other visual characteristics (eg., line, colour, shape) are given meaning by their spatial arrangement. For example, graphs, lists, tables, blueprints, schematics, drawings, signs and labels are documents used in the world of work.
  • Numeracy refers to the workers' use of numbers and their being required to think in quantitative terms.
  • Writing includes writing texts and writing in documents (for example, filling in forms) and non-paper-based writing (for example, typing on a computer).
  • Oral Communication pertains primarily to the use of speech to give and exchange thoughts and information by workers in an occupational group.
  • Working with Others examines the extent to which employees work with others to carry out their tasks. Do they have to work co-operatively with others' Do they have to have the self-discipline to meet work targets while working alone.
  • Continuous Learning examines the requirement for workers in an occupational group to participate in an ongoing process of acquiring skills and knowledge.
  • Thinking Skills differentiates between five different types of cognitive functions. However, these functions are interconnected.
  • Computer Use indicates the variety and complexity of computer use within the occupational group.