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Essential Skills

We Will Build the Future

Literacy allows people to read the world rather just the word.

Essential Skills are the skills needed for work, learning and life. They provide the foundation for learning all other skills and enable people to perform tasks required by their jobs as well as adapt to change. The skills are generic and are used in virtually all occupations and throughout daily life. They are transferable from school to work, job to job and sector to sector.

Through extensive research, the Government of Canada and other national and international agencies have identified and validated nine Essential Skills. The research included interviews conducted with over 5000 Canadian workers by Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC).

The Essential Skills are:

Reading Text Working with Others
Document Use Continuous Learning
Numeracy Thinking Skills
Writing Computer Use
Oral Communication


HRSDC’s Essential Skills Website

English site »
Site web français »

A series of tools have been developed to help individuals and organizations address workplace essential skills challenges.  You can download or order them online.

Une série d’outils a été créée dans le but d’aider les personnes et les organismes à relever les défis posés en matière de compétences essentielles en milieu de travail.  Vous pouvez les trouver içi.

Essential Skill Description
Reading Text The comprehension of text consisting of sentences and paragraphs
Document Use The use of labels, lists, signs, graphs, charts, tables, forms and similar materials


Money Math

Scheduling, Budgeting and Accounting

Measurement and Calculation

Data Analysis

Numerical Estimation

Use mathematical skills to make financial transactions such as handling cash, preparing bills and making statements


Plan and monitor the best use of time and money

Measure and calculate quantities, areas, volumes and/or distances

Collect and analyze of numerical data

Produce estimates in numerical terms

Writing Prepare written materials for a variety of purposes
Oral Communication Use speech to exchange thoughts and information
Working with Others
Continuous Learning
Interact with others to complete tasks. Participate in an ongoing process to improve skills and knowledge
Thinking Skills


Job Task Planning and Organizing

Decision Making

Problem Solving

Finding Information

Planning and organizing one’s own work


Use appropriate information to make any type of decision

Identify and solve problems

Use a variety of sources to find information

Computer Use The use of any type of computerized technology