The original literacy skills – the three R’s (reading, ‘riting and ‘rithmetic) – allow an individual to survive. These are still largely considered to be the minimum skills required for individuals to secure employment that provides food, shelter and the basic necessities.
However, for the workforce of today and tomorrow, more skills are required on top of those original three. So, while proficiency in prose literacy (the reading part of the 3 Rs) learned in school is a highly desirable skill for becoming an educated, informed individual, having that skill does not necessarily mean that the person can read and understand a blueprint, data sheet or technical instruction manual at work. It takes more to be successful in the workplace and in society overall.
But what more? What are the essential workplace skills needed, i.e. the skills important regardless of the type or size of your organization, the position you hold there, or even how long you have worked for the organization?
The 9 Essential Skills
Essential Skill Levels
Workplace Essential Skills are described and categorized according to the tasks performed in a specific occupation or workplace process. They are measured according to levels of complexity on a scale of 1 to 5, with Level 1 being “basic tasks” and Level 5 being “advanced tasks.” A complexity level is often assigned to each task performed by a worker in a specific job.
For example, a bricklayer and a travel agent both need the workplace Essential Skill of writing to effectively do their jobs. The specific form and complexity of writing, however, is different for each of these occupations. The “levels” scale takes into account the length and purpose of writing, as well as the style, structure and content of what is being written, preparation time, familiarity of content, degree of professional risk and narrowness of subject range.
A bricklayer typically requires a Level 2 in writing, as the job involves relatively less complex writing tasks including revising work orders, writing estimate sheets on the cost of materials or labour and filling out simple forms such as incident reports. A travel agent on the other hand, generally requires a Level 4 in writing as the job involves more complex writing tasks including writing magazine articles and advertisements.