The Nine Essential Skills

Essential Skills are the skills needed for work, learning and life. They provide the foundation for learning all other skills and are the cornerstone to lifelong learning. The importance of the role of Essential Skills in the workplace is clear.

Since 1994, the federal government has surveyed more than 3000 Canadians in workplaces in all sectors and of all types and sizes of organizations. All were asked what workplace Essential Skills they felt were needed in order for workers to be most effective, efficient and productive.

The result has been the identification of the following nine workplace Essential Skills:

1. Reading Workplace Text

Reading and understanding written information in many different types of workplace documents, such as work instructions, emails and memos, health and safety manuals, and policies and reports.

How we use this skill

  • scanning for information
  • skimming for overall meaning
  • critiquing or evaluating what’s read
  • integrating information from multiple sources

2. Document Use

Finding and using the information you need – or putting information in where it’s needed – in documents like labels, lists, forms, charts, graphs and technical drawings.

How we use this skill

  • reading signs, labels or lists
  • interpreting graphs or charts
  • reading or creating schematic or assembly drawings

3. Numeracy (Math

Using numbers and thinking mathematically to measure and make calculations, to estimate, to work with money, to analyze trends and to create schedules and budgets.

How we use this skill

  • numerical estimating
  • money math
  • scheduling or budgeting math
  • measurement and data analysis

4. Writing

Using the written word to create a clear message.

How we use this skill

  • organizing, recording or documenting
  • providing information to persuade
  • requesting information or justifying a request
  • presenting an analysis or comparison

5. Oral Communication

Talking with others to give and exchange information and ideas, such as asking questions, making presentations, explaining and persuading.

How we use this skill

  • greeting people and taking messages
  • reassuring, comforting or persuading
  • seeking information
  • resolving conflicts
  • facilitating or leading a group

6. Working with Others

Directing or coordinating work activities with others.

How we use this skill

  • working as a member of a team or jointly with a partner
  • engaging in supervisory or leadership activities

7. Thinking

Thinking Skills include: problem solving, job task planning and organizing, finding information, critical thinking, significant use of memory and decision-making

How we use this skill

  • problem solving and decision making
  • critical thinking
  • planning and organizing job tasks
  • memorizing and finding information

8. Computer Use

Using hardware and software and other computer-based technical tools.

How we use this skill

  • operating cash registers
  • using word processing software
  • sending e-mails
  • creating and modifying spreadsheets

9. Continuous Learning

Being a lifelong learner.

How we use this skill

  • learning as part of regular work activity
  • learning from co-workers
  • taking training offered in the workplace or off-site

“Accept the challenges so that you can feel the exhilaration of victory.”

Contact Us

Workplace Education Manitoba

1000 Waverley Street, Winnipeg, MB R3T 0P3

Fax: (204) 272-5031

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