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Essential Skills

Since its beginnings, CICan has been a champion of education, training and innovation and an advocate of literacy and essential skills research and training. Colleges and institutes believe essential skills are the foundation for learning all other skills; they are needed for work, learning and life; and, they are critical to helping people to evolve with their jobs and to adapt to workplace change. For over twenty years, CICan has sponsored strategic essential skills training interventions with its education partners, and has been in the forefront of essential skills research.

Most recent projects are:

  • Developing a National Framework for Essential Skills: Seeking Harmony while Respecting Diversity
  • Canadian Colleges and Institutes and Workplace Essential Skills: Working with the Community
  • Essential Skills for New immigrants
  • Essentials Skills and SMEs: Canadian Community Colleges and Chambers of Commerce Join Forces
  • Essential Skills into Human Resources practices in the workplace

Visit our Essential Skills Resource Library

Fast Facts

  • Essential Skills are used in different forms and at different levels of complexity in virtually all occupations. They are: Reading; Writing; Numeracy; Oral Communication; Thinking; Working with Others; Document Use; Computer Use; and Continuous Learning.
  • Essential Skills are measured on a scale of 1 at the low end to 5 at the high end.
  • Most Canadian entry-level and well-paying occupations require a minimum of level 3 in Essential Skills.
  • Half of working aged Canadians don’t have level 3.

Funded By

Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC)