Building Blocks For Success

Essential Skills:

  • Are needed for work, learning, and life
  • Are the foundation for learning all other skills; and
  • Help people grow with their work and adapt to change

They are used in every job and throughout daily life in different ways and to varying levels of complexity.


Involves numbers and thinking in quantitative terms to complete tasks. This skill is used when doing numerical estimating, money math, scheduling or budgeting math and analyzing measurements or data. This entails:

  • Make calculations
  • Take measurements
  • Perform scheduling, budgeting or accounting activities
  • Analyze data. Make estimations.


Reading refers to reading material in the form of sentences or paragraphs.
It generally involves reading notes, letters, memos, manuals, specifications, regulations, books, reports or journals. It includes:

  • forms and labels if they contain at least one paragraph
  • print and non-print media (for example, text on computer screens and microfiche)
  • paragraph-length text in charts, tables and graphs


Writing is communicating by arranging words, numbers, and symbols on paper or a computer screen. This skill is used to organize, record, document, provide information to persuade, request information from others and justify a request. This entails:

  • Writing to organize or record information
  • Writing to inform or persuade
  • Writing to inform or persuade
  • Writing to request information or justify a request
  • Writing an analysis or a comparison

Document Use

Document Use involves 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. This skill is used when reading and interpreting graphs, charts, lists, tables, blueprints, schematics, drawings, signs, and labels.

  • Read signs, labels or lists.
  • Understand information on graphs or charts
  • Enter information in forms
  • Create or read schematic drawings

Digital Skills

Digital skills are those needed to understand and process information from digital sources, use digital systems, technical tools, and applications.  In the trades and technology professions, people use digital skills to input, access, analyze, organize, measure, manufacture and communicate information and ideas using digital tools and other digital devices.

  • Use word processing software
  • Send and receive emails
  • Create and modify spreadsheets
  • Navigate the Internet.


Thinking refers to the skills needed to solve problems, make decisions, think critically, plan, remember details, and find information. Thinking differentiates between six different types of interconnected cognitive functions:

  • Problem solving
  • Decision making
  • Critical thinking
  • Job task planning and organizing
  • Significant use of memory
  • Finding information

Oral Communication

Oral Communication pertains primarily to the use of speech to give and exchange thoughts and information by workers in an occupational group.

  • Provide or obtain information
  • Greet, reassure or persuade people
  • Resolve conflicts
  • Lead discussions


Working with others refers to the skills needed to interact with other people (one or more). At work, people work with others in pairs and in small and large groups to coordinate tasks, share resources, plan, make decisions, negotiate, solve conflicts and complete other activities that involve teamwork.

  • Work independently, alongside others
  • Work jointly with a partner or helper
  • Work as a member of a team
  • Participate in supervisory or leadership activities

Continuous Learning

Continuous Learning tests the hypothesis that more and more jobs require continuous upgrading and all workers must continue learning to keep or to grow with their jobs. If this is true, then the following will become Essential Skills:

  • Knowing how to learn
  • Knowing how to gain access to a variety of materials, resources, and learning opportunities
  • Learn through formal training
  • Learn through self-study
  • Understand your own learning style