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 several competency domains and concepts (e.g., skills, personal abilities and attributes, knowledge, interests) as well as occupational work context, work activities, and information on tools and technology. The Taxonomy aims to improve the comparability of the incidence and application of these concepts throughout occupations and sectors.

The Taxonomy also complements the development of a range of occupational information products in the department by detailing the competency requirements for specific occupations, as well as provide other skills utilization indicators (e.g., the proficiency 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), the American O*NET system, and 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, to validate and improve the content of the Skills and Competencies Taxonomy.

In regards to the ESDC Skills for Success framework from the Office of Skills for Success, previously known as ESDC-Office of Literacy and Essential Skills, its Essential Skills elements were integrated in the first publication of the Taxonomy in July 2019. Since then, a new model named Skills for Success was developed and launched in May 2021 by the Office of Skills for Success.

While there is general commonality of meaning between the descriptors in the Taxonomy and the Skills for Success Model, as they have distinct purposes, there are some differences in their definitions. The Taxonomy is a product for the world of work, while the Skills for Success model is a product to help people become active members of their community, succeed in their learning, and achieve in the world of work. The Skills for Success model is for individual learners, employers, and trainers. Each skill has a series of components to simplify the learning steps towards the goal of being proficient in the overall skill. Alternatively, the Taxonomy is a tool for professionals such as analysts, researchers, employment counsellors and employers, as well as for anyone starting or searching for a job or a career, such as job seekers, students, and parents.

Most importantly, the Taxonomy will be used as a framework for the Occupational and Skills Information System (OaSIS), which will capture the measurement of most descriptors in the Taxonomy for close to 900 occupations. As well, the Taxonomy can be complementary to the Skills for Success model.

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

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