Additional information

Essential Skills Framework

All Essential Skills components listed below are captured in the Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) Skills and Competencies Taxonomy.

Note: The Office of Literacy and Essential Skills (OLES), ESDC, is undertaking the task of renewing the Essential Skills (ES) Framework in 2019-20, with particular attention to ‘soft skills’ (e.g., oral communication, working with others). Discussions with key stakeholders will result in recommendations for a renewal of the ES framework.

Essential skills provide the foundation for learning all other skills and enable people to better prepare for, get and keep a job, adapt to the labour market, and succeed at work. For more information, please visit the OLES website.

DescriptorDefinition
Continuous Learning
(appears as one of 4 dimensions of the “Learning” in the Taxonomy and is under Personal Ailities and Attributes/ Personal Qualities)
Continuous learning refers to the skills needed to continually develop and improve one's skills and knowledge in order to work effectively and adapt to changes.
Digital Technology Digital technology refers to the skills needed to understand and use digital systems, tools and applications, and to process digital information.
Document Use Document use refers to the skills needed to find, enter, and use letters, numbers, symbols and images in electronic and paper formats.
Numeracy
(sub-components appear as distinct descriptors in the Taxonomy)
Numeracy refers to the skills needed to make sense of and apply mathematical concepts and information.
Oral Communication
(appears as Oral Communication: Oral Expression, Oral Comprehension, and Active Listening in the Taxonomy)
Oral communication refers to the skills needed to exchange thoughts and information with other people by speaking, listening, and using non-verbal cues, such as body language.
Reading Reading refers to the skills needed to understand and apply information found in sentences and paragraphs.
Thinking: Critical Thinking
(appears as Critical Thinking under Skills/Analytical Skills in the Taxonomy)
Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions, or approaches to problems.
Thinking: Decision Making
(appears as Decision Making under Skills/Analytical Skills in the Taxonomy)
Decision making refers to making a choice among options.
Thinking: Finding Information
(appears as Getting Information under Work Activities/Information Input in the Taxonomy)
Finding information involves using any of a variety of sources including text, people, computerized databases, or information systems.
Thinking: Job Task Planning and Organizing
(appears as Job Task Planning and Organizing under Skills/ Resource Management Skills in the Taxonomy)
Job task planning and organizing refers to the extent to which the workers plan and organize their own tasks. It does not refer to involvement in the planning function for the organization in which they work.
Thinking: Problem Solving
(appears as Problem Solving under Skills/Analytical Skills in the Taxonomy)
Identifying problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.
Thinking: Significant Use of Memory
(appears as Memorization under Personal Ailities and Attributes/ Cognitives Abilities in the Taxonomy)
Significant use of memory includes any significant or unusual use of memory for workers in the occupational group. It does not include normal memory use that is a requirement for every occupation.
Working with OthersWorking with others refers to the skills needed to interact with other people (one or more).
Writing Writing refers to the skills needed to compose handwritten or typed text to communicate.

Sources

Framework/Report/Article TitleAuthor(s)/Disseminator
Global Competency Framework Council of Ministers of Education, Canada (CMEC)
The definition and selection of key competencies: Executive Summary Program for International Student Assessment (PISA)
Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC) Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC)
International Symposium 2017 – Canada Paper International Centre for Career Development and Public Policy (ICCDPP)
21st Century Competencies Ontario Public Service – Learning Partnership
Atlantic Canada Framework for Essential Graduation Atlantic Provinces Education Foundation (now Council of Atlantic Ministers of Education and Training - CAMET)
Potential hires coming up short in 'soft skills', employers say Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC)
O*Net National Center for O*NET Development (US Department of Labor)
Ontario Skills Passport (ON EDU) Ontario Ministry of Education
New Work Smarts
New Work Order
Foundation for Young Australians
COPS/CAPS/COPES-Interest Inventory
CAPS-Abilities
COPES-Work Values
COPS/CAPS/COPESystem (EdITS)
BC Public Service Competencies British Columbia Public Service
Career Handbook (CH)
Skills & Knowledge Checklist (S&K)
Essential Skills (ES)
Employment and Social Development Canada
Hazards Database Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety
Employability Skills 2000+
General Innovation Skills Aptitude Test 2.0
Conference Board of Canada
Nos compétences fortes Institut de coopération pour l’éducation des adultes
Classification of Instructional Programs Statistics Canada
It’s human skills – not technical skills The Globe and Mail
Let’s stop calling them ‘soft skills’ It’s Your Turn
Occupational Information System Project Social Security Administration (U.S.)
United Nations Standard Products and Services Code The United Nations Standard Products and Services Code® (UNSPSC®), managed by GS1 US™ for the UN Development Programme (UNDP)
Making Vocational Choices : a theory of careers
(complete version not available online)
John L. Holland

Endnotes

Notation Descriptor Note
[i] Reading Comprehension This descriptor comes from ESDC’s Office of Literacy and Essential Skills.
[ii] Writing This descriptor comes from ESDC’s Office of Literacy and Essential Skills.
[iii] Numeracy This descriptor comes from ESDC’s Office of Literacy and Essential Skills.
[iv] Oral Communication: Active Listening This descriptor is a component of the Essential Skill - Oral Communication. To ensure specificity and mutual exclusivity throughout the Taxonomy, the Essential Skill “Oral Communication” has been split into three descriptors in the Competency Taxonomy: “Active Listening”, “Oral Comprehension”, and “Oral Expression”.
[v] Oral Communication: Oral Comprehension This descriptor is a component of the Essential Skill - Oral Communication. To ensure specificity and mutal exclusivity throughout the Taxonomy, the Essential Skill “Oral Communication” has been split into three descriptors in the Competency Taxonomy: “Active Listening”, “Oral Comprehension”, and “Oral Expression”.
[vi] Oral Communication: Oral Expression This is a component of the Essential Skill - Oral Communication. To ensure specificity and mutual exclusivity throughout the Taxonomy, the Essential Skill “Oral Communication” has been split into three descriptors for Oral Communication in the Competency Taxonomy: “Active Listening”, “Oral Comprehension”, and “Oral Expression”.
While nonverbal communication is not specified in the Essential Skill Oral Communication, its definition includes the usage of Nonverbal Encoding Practices and Nonverbal Decoding Practices. Nonverbal Encoding is defined as “Consciously applying/utilizing nonverbal communication, which includes body language (kinesics), distance (proxemics), voice (paralanguage), and touch (haptics), to convey information.” Nonverbal decoding is defined as “Reading and interpreting nonverbal communication, which includes body language (kinesics), distance (proxemics), voice (paralanguage), and touch (haptics).”
[vii] Digital Skills This descriptor is a component of the Essential Skill Framework. One of the concurrent challenges of the Taxonomy is the integration of the digital skill concept. To ensure this concept is properly integrated in the Taxonomy, ESDC is conducting a number of activities, such as performing the secretariat role for the Sub-Working Group on Classification of Skills & Competencies, which is part of the Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED)-ESDC-Statistics Canada Working Group on Skills and Talent. The Sub-Working Group is currently exploring the terms, definitions and placement of digital skills in the Taxonomy.
[viii] Critical Thinking This descriptor is a component of the Essential Skill – Thinking, which comes from ESDC’s Office of Literacy and Essential Skills.
[ix] Decision Making This descriptor is a component of the Essential Skill – Thinking, which comes from ESDC’s Office of Literacy and Essential Skills.
[x] Problem Solving This descriptor is a component of the Essential Skill – Thinking, which comes from ESDC’s Office of Literacy and Essential Skills.
[xi] Technology Design This descriptor will remain in this sub-category pending further review by the Interdepartmental Sub-Working Group on the Classification of Skills and Competencies (including digital skills).
[xii] Personal Abilities “Aptitudes” and “abilities” are understood as synonyms by professionals in career and vocational counselling. For the purpose of consistency, the Taxonomy uses the term “Abilities”.
[xiii] Memorizing “Memorization” covers “Significant Use of Memory” (Essential Skills descriptor).
[xiv] Multitasking O*NET uses the descriptor title “Time Sharing”. For the purpose of the Taxonomy, this title was changed to “Multitasking”.
[xv] Pattern Organization Speed O*NET defines this terms as “Speed of Closure”. For the purpose of the Taxonomy, this title was changed to “Pattern Organization Speed”.
[xvi] Spatial Perception Spatial Perception (GATB descriptor) was considered to include the component of Visualization (O*NET descriptor) for this Taxonomy, as visualization is understood as a component of spatial perception.
[xvii] Verbal Ability Verbal ability is understood as a precursor to oral communication (seen as the “potential” a client has to be able to effectively communicate).
[xviii] Body Flexibility O*NET uses the descriptor title “Extent Flexibility”. For the purpose of the Taxonomy, this title was changed to “Body Flexibility”.
[xix] Achievement O*NET uses the descriptor title “Achievement/Effort”. For the purpose of the Taxonomy, this title was changed to “Achievement”.
[xx] Attention to Detail (Including Clerical Perception) For the purpose of the Taxonomy, this O*NET definition was adapted to include the component of “Clerical Perception”, as defined by the Career Handbook (ability to perceive pertinent detail in verbal or tabular material; to observe differences in copy, to proofread words and numbers, and to avoid perceptual errors in arithmetical computation).
[xxi] Creativity O*NET uses the descriptor title “Originality”. For the purpose of the Taxonomy, the title was changed to “Creativity”.
[xxii] Concern of Others Emotional Intelligence (EI) as defined by Daniel Goleman (1998) consists of five skills/personal attributes listed in this Taxonomy: Self-awareness, Self-regulation, Social, Empathy, and Motivation. For the purpose of the Taxonomy, the component of Empathy was added to the definition of “Concern for Others”.
[xxiii] Continuous Learning This descriptor comes from ESDC’s Office of Literacy and Essential Skills.
[xxiv] Perseverance O*NET uses the descriptor title “Persistence”. For the purpose of the Taxonomy, the title was changed to “Perseverance”.
[xxv] Stress Tolerance This descriptor includes the concept of stress management.
[xxvi] Knowledge Knowledge category contains descriptors based on the Classification of Instructional Programs Canada (CIP Canada) 2016 modified with information from the American O*NET system and the National Occupational Classification's Skills and Knowledge Checklist.
[xxvii] Holland Codes

The definitions provided for the Holland codes were inspired by the descriptions proposed by Holland in Making Vocational Choices: a Theory of Careers (1997), Prentice Hall, New Jersey, pp. 29-33. O*NET’s definitions for RIASEC codes were consulted.

The Holland codes are not presented in alphabetical order to respect the R-I-A-S-E-C sequence and the relationships between the six elements, as represented in Holland’s hexagon.

[xxviii] Automation O*NET uses the descriptor title "Degree of Automation". For the purpose of the Taxonomy, the title was changed to "Automation".
[xxix] Competition O*NET uses the descriptor title "Level of Competition". For the purpose of the Taxonomy, the title was changed to "Competition".
[xxx] Impact of Decisions O*NET uses the descriptor title "Impact of Decisions on Co-workers or Company Results". For the purpose of the Taxonomy, the title was changed to "Impact of Decisions".
[xxxi] Precision O*NET uses the descriptor title "Importance of Being Exact or Accurate". For the purpose of the Taxonomy, the title was changed to "Precision".
[xxxii] Tasks Repetition O*NET uses the descriptor title “Importance of Repeating Same Tasks”. For the purpose of the Taxonomy, the title was changed to "Tasks Repetition".
[xxxiii] Type of Work Schedules O*NET uses the descriptor title “Work Schedules/Shiftwork". For the purpose of the Taxonomy, the title was changed to "Type of Work Schedule".
[xxxiv] Work Week Duration O*NET uses the descriptor title “Duration of Typical Work Week”. For the purpose of the Taxonomy, the title was changed to "Work Week Duration".
[xxxv] Extreme Temperatures O*NET uses the descriptor title “Very Hot or Cold Temperatures". For the purpose of the Taxonomy, the title was changed to “Extreme Temperatures”.
[xxxvi] Outside, Exposed to Weather O*NET uses the descriptor title “Outdoor, Exposed to Weather". For the purpose of the Taxonomy, the title was changed to “Outside, Exposed to Weather".
[xxxvii] Outside, Under Cover O*NET uses the descriptor title “Outdoor, Under Cover", which was, for the purpose of the Taxonomy, changed to “Outside, Under Cover".
[xxxviii] Sound and Noise O*NET uses the descriptor title “Sounds, Noise Levels Are Distracting or Uncomfortable". For the purpose of the Taxonomy, the title was changed to “Sound and Noise".
[xxxix] Specialized Safety Equipment O*NET uses the descriptor title "Wear Specialized Protective or Safety Equipment such as Breathing Apparatus, Safety Harness, Full Protection Suits, or Radiation Protection". For the purpose of the Taxonomy, the title was changed to "Specialized Safety Equipment".
[xl] Standard Safety Equipment O*NET uses the descriptor title "Wear Common Protective or Safety Equipment such as Safety Shoes, Glasses, Gloves, Hearing Protection, Hard Hats, or Life Jackets". For the purpose of the Taxonomy, the title was changed to "Standard Safety Equipment".
[xli] Handling Material Manually O*NET uses the descriptor title “Using Your Hands to Handle, Control, or Feel Objects, Tools”. For the purpose of the Taxonomy, the title was changed to “Handling Material Manually”.
[xlii] Interpersonal Relations O*NET uses the category title “Interpersonal Relationship". For the purpose of the Taxonomy, the title was changed to "Interpersonal Relations".
[xliii] Conflict Situations O*NET uses the descriptor title “Frequency of Conflict Situations”. For the purpose of the Taxonomy, the title was changed to "Conflict Situations".
[xliv] Document Use This descriptor comes from ESDC’s Office of Literacy and Essential Skills.
[xlv] Controlling O*NET uses the descriptor title “Controlling Machine and Processes". For the purpose of the Taxonomy, the title was changed to "Controlling".
[xlvi] Developing Technical Instructions O*NET uses the descriptor title “Drafting, Laying Out, and Specifying Technical Devices, Parts, and Designing Technical Equipment". For the purpose of the Taxonomy, the title was changed to "Developing Technical Instructions".
[xlvii] Documenting Information O*NET uses the descriptor title “Recording Information". For the purpose of the Taxonomy, the title was changed to "Documenting Information".
[xlviii] Electronic Maintenance O*NET uses the descriptor title “Repairing and Maintaining Electronic Equipment". For the purpose of the Taxonomy, the title was changed to "Electronic Maintenance".
[xlix] Managing Resources O*NET uses the descriptor title "Monitoring and controlling resources and overseeing the spending of money". For the purpose of the Taxonomy, the title was changed to "Managing Resources".
[l] Mechanical Maintenance O*NET uses the descriptor title "Repairing and Maintaining Mechanical Equipment". For the purpose of the Taxonomy, the title was changed to "Mechanical Maintenance".
[li] Making Decisions O*NET uses the descriptor title “Making Decisions and Solving Problems”. For the purpose of the Taxonomy, the title was changed to "Making Decisions".
[lii] Planning and Organizing O*NET uses the descriptor title “Organizing, Planning and Prioritizing Work”. For the purpose of the Taxonomy, the title was changed to "Planning and Organizing".
[liii] Using New Relevant Knowledge O*NET uses the descriptor title “Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge". For the purpose of the Taxonomy, the title was changed to "Using New Relevant Knowledge".
[liv] Performing Clerical Activities O*NET uses the descriptor title “Performing Administrative Activities”. For the purpose of the Taxonomy, the title was changed to "Performing Clerical Activities".
[lv] Staffing O*NET uses the descriptor title “Staffing Organizational Units”. For the purpose of the Taxonomy, the title was changed to "Staffing".
[lvi] Supervising Subordinates O*NET uses the descriptor title “Guiding, Directing, and Motivating Subordinates”. For the purpose of the Taxonomy, the title was changed to "Supervizing Subordinates".
[lvii] Tools and Technology The Tools and Technology category is based on the United Nations Standard Products and Services Code (UNSPSC), which is currently used by the O*NET system to organize their own tools and technology descriptors. The UNSPSC classification is constructed around four levels: segment, family, class, and commodity. For the purpose of this document, only the first two levels of the tools and technology classification are shown.
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