What are Essential Skills?

The 9 Essential Skills are the foundational skills needed for learning other skills and for success at every job. Strong Essential Skills help workers adapt to workplace change and additional learning.

Essential Skills


Workplace examples


Reading is understanding information in the form of sentences or paragraphs.
  • reading instructions from an equipment manual

  • reading flight information on a computer screen

Document Use

Document use is reading signs, labels, lists or drawings; interpreting information on graphs; and entering information on forms.
  • interpreting building height information from a blueprint

  • getting price information from a product catalogue


Numeracy is using numbers and thinking in quantitative terms to complete tasks, such as estimating amounts, scheduling or analyzing data.
  • calculating the amount of change to give to a customer
  • preparing budgets for the company


Writing is conveying ideas by writing text and writing in documents, such as filling in forms or typing on a computer.
  • filling out a form to request equipment repairs
  • writing an annual report about the company’s activities for the previous year

Oral Communication

Oral Communication is using speech to give and exchange thoughts and information.
  • informing a customer about a company’s services
  • making a presentation at an office meeting

Working with Others

Working with Others is working with co-workers, as a member of a team, or in a supervisory position.
  • coordinating tasks with co-workers to cater a banquet
  • working as an assistant to help a supervisor complete a task


Thinking is evaluating ideas or information to reach a rational decision.
  • making a diagnosis about a patient’s condition based on observations and the patient’s medical reports
  • resolving a customer complaint

Computer Use

Computer Use is using computer applications or technical tools such as word processing, e-mails or spreadsheets.
  • using a spreadsheet to make budget calculations for a project
  • completing financial transactions using electronic cash registers

Continuous Learning

Continuous Learning is ongoing learning as part of work, through on- or off-site training or from co-workers.
  • receiving on-the-job mentoring about a new company procedure
  • attending a convention to learn about new products

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