Photo courtesy of Plymouth District Library found on Flickr availablethrough the creative commons district library5244742145inphotolistIf you have recently decided to enter the job market after a hiatus, you will realize that things have changed. When looking at job advertisements you will see that job descriptions have also changed and may be confusing. One of the items listed in a job description may be: “must have essential skills”. It is important to understand what “essential skills” comprise. The government of Canada has identified nine essential skills that are needed when entering the workforce. These are areas that are used in every job in a variety of ways and levels and they provide the groundwork for all other skills to enable people to grow in their abilities and adapt to an ever changing workplace.

  1. Reading - The ability to understand reading materials in the form of sentences and paragraphs. You use this skill to scan for information, evaluate what your read and integrate information you find from multiple sources.
  2. Document Use - The ability to perform tasks that involve information that is presented with word, numbers, symbols and other visual characters. You use this skill when you read and interpret signs, labels, lists, charts and graphs.
  3. Numeracy - The ability to use numbers and think in quantitative terms. You use this skill when are providing numerical estimates, money math, creating schedules, budgets and analyze measurements and data.
  4. Writing - The ability to write text (this does NOT refer to ‘texting’) and documents. It also includes non-paper based writing such as typing on a computer. You use this skill to organize, record, document and present and request information.
  5. Oral Communication - The ability to use speech to give and exchange ideas and information. You use this skill to greet people, take messages, ask for information, and resolve conflicts.
  6. Working With Others - The ability to work with others to carry out tasks. You use this skill when you become part of a team or work with a partner. You will this skill if you are in a supervisory or administrative position.
  7. Thinking - The ability to process and evaluate ideas and information to reach a rational decision. You use this skill to solve problems, make decisions, think critically, and plan and organize goals and tasks.
  8. Computer Use - The ability to use different kinds of computer applications and other technical tools. You use these skills when you operate a cash register, use word processing software for letters and documents, send email, and create or update spreadsheets.
  9. Continuous Learning - The ability to participate in the ongoing process of acquiring skills and knowledge. You use this skill as part of most jobs, from co-workers and choose to utilize training in the workplace or in other ways.

This summary is based on the list found at the ABC Life Literacy Canada website ( can also go to this website - to find more information and some self-assessment helps.

Photo courtesy of Plymouth District library, available through the creative commons


About the Authors

Hi - my name is Carolyn Graham and I am the Head Librarian and I love my job! One of the best parts of my job is that I am the first one to see all the beautiful new books as they arrive. I have always loved to read and my favorite way to relax is with a good book. I strongly believe that having good reading skills is an integral part of all learning. Being able to share good books and authors that I have enjoyed is great fun. Feel free to come and ask for suggestions.

Hi - I’m Aubrey Walker, Assistant Librarian at the Jake Epp Library. I’m a librarian and coffee guzzler by day, a reader and tea sipper by night. Reading and writing (and talking endlessly about both) are passions of mine, so I’m rather lucky to have a job where those things are relevant and important. I’m also the voice behind our Facebook page, and I love connecting with people about books both online and off. is Steinbach's only source for community news and information such as weather and classifieds.