Skills and Competencies Taxonomy

In order to complement other federal, provincial, and territorial employment programming efforts around skills identification and utilization, Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) has developed a Skills and Competencies Taxonomy that will help facilitate a Pan-Canadian dialogue on skills.

The Taxonomy serves to streamline terminology across a number of competency domains and concepts (e.g. skills, personal abilities and attributes, knowledge, interests), occupational work context, work activities, and tools and technology information, while aiming to improve the comparability of their incidence and application throughout occupations and sectors. The Taxonomy also complements the development of a range of labour market information products within ESDC, such as the Career Handbook, which details the competency requirements for specific occupations and provides other skills utilization indicators (e.g. the importance of a skill within a particular occupation, and/or the frequency of its use).

The Taxonomy was constructed based on internal products (E.g. Career Handbook, Skills and Knowledge Checklist, and Essential Skills profiles –see the Essential Skills Framework under the Additionnal Information section), the American O*Net system, as well as a variety of national and international competency-based frameworks. For more details, see the list of sources under the Additional Information section.

ESDC continues to consult with internal and external stakeholders, including the provinces and territories, in order to validate and improve the content of the Skills and Competencies Taxonomy.

Note on the nuance between “skills” and “competencies”

The literature on skills and competencies suggests a nuance between the two concepts, namely that competencies involve the use of skills, abilities, and attributes to complete a task or successfully meet demands.

Consistent with the existing literature, ESDC proposes the following term definitions for the Skills and Competencies Taxonomy:


Explore over 250 skills and competencies within an organized structure

Additional information

Find more information about the Taxonomy and the Essential Skills Framework

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