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The truth about essential skills: What you don’t know can hurt you

December 15, 2011 - Tags: Employers, Training

Istock 000000119824xsmallThis guest blog post is provided by the Office of Literacy and Essential Skills, which aims to improve the skills Canadians need to adapt and succeed at work.

Do not underestimate the importance and applicability of essential skills for your business. Arm yourself with the facts and knowledge to succeed:

Myth: Businesses that hire graduates, or someone with a grade 12 equivalency, will not have to worry about training at work.

Fact: High school, college and university graduates can lack the essential skills and management skills that businesses seek most. And when skills mastered in the classroom are not used on the job, they weaken. Businesses must approach learning as a lifelong process. Learning at work helps maintain and enhance essential skills long after finishing formal education. (Source: The skills gap in Canada: The knowledge intensity of Canadians’ jobs is growing rapidly, Canadian Council on Learning, 2006)

Myth: Business owners do not have to be concerned about essential skills if employees are already functioning well in their jobs.

Fact: 5.9 million working Canadians do not have the essential skills necessary to succeed in a knowledge-based economy. Research has demonstrated that businesses that invest in essential skills are better equipped to respond to the demands of today’s ever changing economy. (Source: International Adult Literacy and Skills Survey, 2003)

Myth: Essential skills training cannot be measured and is unlikely to contribute to “hard” business benefits.

Fact: Businesses that have integrated essential skills into training have documented increased productivity, improved workplace health and safety, reduced product defects, error rates and waste, and enhanced employee engagement and loyalty. In fact, in a Conference Board of Canada study, 79% of respondents said that increased productivity was linked to a workplace essential skills program. (Source: The Economic Benefits of Improving Literacy Skills in the Workplace, Conference Board of Canada, 2007)

Myth: You either have essential skills or you don’t.

Fact: Essential skills are used in nearly every job and at different levels of complexity. They provide the foundation for learning all other skills and enable people to evolve with their jobs and adapt to workplace change.

To learn more about essential skills and to access helpful guides, checklists and worksheets, check out the Office of Literacy and Essential Skills' Web site.

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