Essential Skills

Did you know that the Government of Canada has identified nine skills that are essential in the workplace?  These are skills that are used in nearly every job in some way at some time.  Off the top of your head, what would you deem as essential to being able to compete and adapt to the changing work force?

The department of Employment and Social Development* has defined them as:

  • Reading – notes, letters, memos
  • Writing – typing on a computer, filling out forms
  • Document Use – graphs, signs, labels, forms
  • Numeracy – use of numbers
  • Digital Technology – variety and complexity of digital use
  • Thinking – problem solving, planning, critical thinking
  • Oral Communication – using speech to exchange thought and information
  • Working with others – ability to work along side others or alone
  • Continuous learning – knowing how to learn, where to look for resources

*Check out defining workplace essential skills for a more in depth look.

For me, these are more than just workplace essential skills – they are skills that we use everyday in our homes and our communities.  They are skills we develop whether we are in the workforce or working within our homes.  

The dad who has to juggle his work schedule to book a doctor’s appointment for his child; the mom who wants to make sure that she has picked up enough goodies for all the children who are attending the party on Saturday; the grandma who it taking a course at the library so she can Skype with her grandson and share a bedtime story or the parent working two jobs to make ends meet but still find time to be involved in their child’s school activities are all using these skills without thinking about it.

Often when one of the parents I have worked with wants to re-enter the workforce they are hesitant about applying for a job.  They feel that they have been out of the workforce for too long or don’t have the right qualifications for a specific job. By showing them they have worked on these nine essential skills in their daily lives (be it balancing their home budget, finding new recipes on the internet, being an active member of the school council or organizing the schedule for a soccer tournament), I can help them be more confident in their ability to apply for that job.  I help them realize that the skills they used to accomplish so much in their homes and for their families are skills they can transfer to the workplace.  

If you asked me five years ago how I defined poverty, I would probably have said it had to do with a lack of money or finances. With all the buzz around raising the minimum wage, allocation of funds in the federal or provincial budgets and fact that 37,000 children live in poverty in the Alberta Capital Region, I know that I look at poverty differently. I truly believe that poverty is about so much more than just a dollar figure – it’s also about access to and opportunity for affordable education, skill development, sustainable employment and more so much more.