Know [And Grow] Your Skills
Building your career will require a wide range of technical and people skills.
Reading refers to the skills needed to understand and apply information found in sentences and paragraphs.
At work, people use reading skills to locate and use information from memos, emails, manuals, reports, proposals and other written material.
The level of difficulty of reading tasks ranges between being able to read short texts to find a single piece of information (complexity Level 1), to being able to understand and use long and complicated texts, like contracts or reports (complexity Level 5).
The ability to read at a complexity Level 3 is essential for most jobs - even for those that do not require a college diploma, university degree or specialized training. For example, this level of reading is needed for workers to succeed in job-specific training and read safety-related information.
Document use refers to the skills needed to find, enter and use letters, numbers, symbols and images in electronic and paper formats.
At work, people use document use skills to find and enter information in electronic and paper visual displays, such as forms, lists, tables, graphs, maps and drawings.
The document use complexity scale ranges from Level 1 to Level 5 based on the number, type and structure of documents; how information is found and entered (and whether or not the information is modified in order to be used); and the worker's thought process and their previous knowledge of the content.
In some cases, tasks that require document use skills may also require other essential skills. For example, reading skills might also be required for a document that includes a paragraph of text (e.g. on a label). In a similar way, writing skills might be needed when a document requires the entry of words, phrases, sentences and paragraphs.
Writing refers to the skills needed to compose handwritten or typed text to communicate information and ideas.
At work, people use writing skills to compose texts, such as notes, memos, bulletins, email messages, instructions, procedures and reports.
The writing complexity scale is organized into themes, which explain the complexity requirements of writing tasks:
- length and purpose,
- style and structure, and
Writing tasks may range from writing short and informal notes (complexity Level 1) to writing longer, technical documents based on many different sources of information and adapted to a specific audience (complexity Level 5).
Numeracy refers to the skills needed to make sense of and apply mathematical concepts and information.
At work, people use numeracy skills to tally costs, create budgets, calculate lengths and volumes, analyze data, estimate times and manage the other mathematical demands of different situations.
The level of difficulty of a numeracy task is determined by the math task performed, as well as the knowledge needed to perform the task properly. There is a difference between a worker's ability to work with numbers and their understanding of when they should use certain types of math. For example, a worker can take a number from a computer printout and put it in a report without knowing how it was calculated. Also, some numeracy tasks require workers to make sense of mathematical information found in text or media and not just simply perform mathematical operations.
Numeracy example tasks are assessed across four (estimation) to five (calculation) levels of difficulty and depend on many factors, such as:
- the number, type and difficulty of mathematical operations needed to find a solution to a problem;
- the amount of information available and the level of accuracy required; and,
- the consequence of making a mistake.
Oral communication refers to the skills needed to exchange thoughts and information with other people by speaking, listening and using non-verbal cues, such as body language.
At work, people use oral communication skills to talk to customers, discuss products with suppliers, explain work procedures to co-workers, participate in virtual sales meetings with clients, and other activities that involve verbal exchanges.
The level of difficulty related to oral communication tasks is based on four factors:
- the range and complexity of oral communication required ? from giving basic instructions (Level 1) to carrying out complicated negotiations (Level 4);
- the range and complexity of information communicated ? from a familiar, simple topic (Level 1) to complex, highly detailed technical information (Level 4);
- the range and complexity of the communication context ? from communicating with one person at a time in an everday situation (Level 1) to communicating with a new and challenging audience in an unfamiliar setting (Level 4); and,
- the risks involved with not being able to communicate properly ? from minor inefficiencies (Level 1) to the loss of life or serious injury (Level 4).
Thinking refers to the skills needed to solve problems, make decisions, think critically, plan, remember details, and find information.
At work, people use thinking skills to do tasks, such as solving electronic equipment problems, assessing the safety of a jobsite, deciding who to hire, planning meetings, memorizing passwords, and finding the information needed to estimate the cost of a project.
The four levels of complexity for various thinking-related activities are based on these factors:
- the steps involved in problem solving, from identifying a problem to finding and assessing a solution;
- what is involved in decision making, i.e. the consequence of making a mistake, the extent to which information is available, procedures are explained, similar examples exist and judgement is needed to make a decision;
- the criteria, assessment and effects of critical thinking processes;
- to what extent workers need to plan and organize their own tasks and the impact this might have on the total efficiency of a project; and
- the difficulty of finding, selecting, understanding and processing information.
Digital technology refers to the skills needed to understand and use digital systems, tools and applications, and to process digital information.
At work, people use digital technology skills to input, access, analyze, organize, create and communicate information and ideas using computers, software, point-of-sale equipment, email, podcasts, web applications, smart phones and other digital devices.
Digital skills are currently being assessed against levels defined for Computer Use. As complexity levels are defined through digital skills research, both the methodology and the profiles will be updated as needed.
Working With Others
Working with others refers to the skills needed to interact with other people (one or more).
At work, people work with others in pairs and in small and large groups to coordinate tasks, share resources, plan, make decisions, negotiate, solve conflicts and complete other activities that involve teamwork.
Many jobs require a lifelong learning attitude. These are some of the practical skills you may need to find a job and build a career.
In order for workers to take advantage of the opportunities in ‘in demand’ occupations, either when entering the labour force for the first time or when in transition from other occupations, it is important to understand what essential skills will be required and also the level of skill that these occupations will require. Some of the occupations listed will also require certification or a credential of some kind, however, most do not. A worker’s essential skills can easily be identified through available tests and upgrading is available through a variety of agencies in Guelph/Wellington.