Essential Skills and Literacy

Do your employees have the skills they need to help your business succeed? Can they figure out a problem, communicate with each other and with your customers, and work effectively together?

Literacy and other essential skills make your employees productive and prepare your business for a changing economy.

Topics on this page
Topics on this page

Essential Skills

Nine “essential skills” are the foundation for learning all other skills. They let people work productively, learn what they need to know, solve unexpected problems and adapt to workplace change. The nine essential skills are reading, writing and numeracy; document use and computer use; oral communication and working with others; thinking and continuous learning.

Find out how supporting your workers’ essential skills can become an investment in your business success.
  • Tools, Assessments and Training Support – Discover the benefits, case studies and a simple process for integrating essential skills training in the workplace.
  • Essential skills profiles – Review which essential skills are most important in your industry.
  • SkillPlan – Find resources for employers and instructors from the BC Construction Industry Skills Improvement Council.
  • ASPECT – Find out how organizations that offer training in job skills and careers can benefit your business.
The B.C. ITA Essential Skills website can help workers who want to improve their essential skills, especially those interested in the trades.


Strong reading and writing skills are essential so that your employees can work safely, read instructions, record their activities and report to customers.

B.C.’s Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Training lists adult literacy programs throughout the province.

Decoda Literacy Solutions provides information and stories about literacy in B.C.

English Language Skills

Employees who are new to B.C. may need to improve their English language skills. You can help them become more productive by supporting them in learning English.

To learn more about the various English language programs and services available to newcomers in B.C., visit WelcomeBC.

Adult Upgrading

Employees may need to upgrade or complete high school level courses to expand their options for work opportunities or further education. Learn about adult upgrading, including graduation, free assessments or tutoring and other possibilities. Find your nearest post-secondary institution or school that offers adult upgrading courses.