Getting Skills and Experience

Does your youth have the right skills and competencies? Here, we will help you identify, refine and make a plan to improve their skills now and throughout their working life.

Discover the nine Skills for Success

These nine foundational skills are essential for effective learning, career success and community engagement.
  • Adaptability – To achieve or adjust goals and behaviours when change occurs, by planning, staying focused, persisting and overcoming setbacks.
  • Collaboration – To contribute and support others to achieve a common goal.
  • Communication – To receive, understand, consider, and share information and ideas through speaking, listening and interacting with others.
  • Creativity & Innovation – To imagine, develop, express, encourage and apply ideas in ways that are new, unexpected or challenge existing methods.
  • Digital – To use digital technology and tools to find, manage, apply, create and share information and content.
  • Numeracy – To find, understand, use and report mathematical information presented through words, numbers, symbols and graphics.
  • Problem Solving – To identify, analyze, propose solutions and make decisions. Problem solving helps employers and employees address issues, monitor success and learn from the experience.
  • Reading – To find, understand and use information presented through words, symbols and images.
  • Writing – To share information using written words, symbols and images. 


  1.  Invite your youth to complete these online assessments
  2.  Watch the Skills for Success – Videos to learn more about each skill.
By completing these activities, your youth will discover their strengths and identify ways to improve their current abilities.
For youth interested in the trades, the ITA Essential Skills website can also help them develop their trade skills.

Learn about skills of the future

In addition to the essential skills listed above, employers will be looking for other sets of skills, competencies, and characteristics.

Skills are the ability to perform tasks from knowledge, learning or practice.
Competencies are the ability to perform specific tasks well and to adapt easily to the activities of a variety of jobs. Knowledge and behaviours will lead to success.
Characteristics are qualities that may influence both performance and the capacity to gain the knowledge and skills needed to perform work well.

Source: The U.S. Department of Labour/Employment and Training Administration, The O*NET Content Model.


Have your youth visit the Skills for the Future Workforce webpage on to learn more about the specific skills, competencies and characteristics they can develop for the future.

Take inventory of your current skills

Your youth uses a variety of skills everyday as they engage in school, sports and extra-curricular activities. Help them realize how their skills can be applied in the context of work.

Skills are learned and developed with practice. Start the conversation with your youth about what their skills are and how they were attained. Remember, it’s important for your youth to identify their skills in their resume and to demonstrate them during an interview.

Some examples of soft skills are:
  • Communication.
  • Collaboration.
  • Decision-making.
  • Adaptability.  
  • Leadership.
  • Problem-solving.
  • Organization.
  • Interpersonal skills.
  • Teamwork.
  • Empathy.
  • Public speaking.
  • Motivating.
  • Time management.
  • Creativity.
  • Social skills.
  • Emotional Intelligence.


Take an inventory of your skills, complete the skills inventory worksheet PDF. Complete and take an inventory of your skills worksheet. Print or save your completed worksheet.

Build, practice and improve your skills

There are many ways to build, practice and improve skills. Encourage your youth to document or journal their experiences.

Here are some examples of opportunities to grow your youth’s skills:
  • Part-time work while going to school.
  • Seasonal work while on summer or winter break.
  • Gain experience while engaging in interests you are passionate about through committees.
  • Learn a new sport and build skills working in a team environment.
  • Experiment and learn a new skill through hobbies.
  • Take part in extra-curricular activities.
  • Volunteer and give back to your community.
Some other opportunities may be offered in the school environment:
  • The Applied Design, Skills and Technologies curriculum: an experiential, hands-on learning program.
  • Work Experience 12: earn graduation credit while engaging in work-based training opportunities.
  • Dual-credit opportunities: students earn high school credit while beginning apprenticeships, completing certificates, and working toward professional certifications and diplomas.
  • Youth Explore Trades Skills: grades 10 to 12, with 25- to 30-hour modules in a range of hands-on, skill-based learning.
  • Work integrated Learning/Co-operative placement.


Provide your youth with the opportunity to build their skills at home.
  • Include them in the decision-making process (where appropriate).
  • Delegate household responsibilities.
  • Plan and help prepare a meal for a week.
  • Plan an event (with a budget).
  • Organize a family outing.
  • Work on a project together.
  • Play a game.

Get out and volunteer

Volunteering can also provide the opportunity to build skills, as well as supports for the future. This can also help determine whether there is enjoyment working in that role, industry or workplace.

Read the Spotlight blog: Three Benefits of Volunteering.


Consider volunteering in an activity together with your youth. Check out:

Consider a gap year

Some parents start to worry when they hear their youth is considering a gap year. They fear that if their teen doesn’t keep up the momentum of schooling, they may never return. They may envision that the year is going to be spent playing video games with no plan.

Taking time to listen to your youth’s reasoning behind this decision it is worth it. Patience is recommended; it can take a lot of courage for your youth to initiate the conversation of a gap year. It could be for reasons of needing a break from studies or not feeling ready for that next stage in life. They may still not know what they want to pursue for their post-secondary studies. These are all valid reasons.

It is helpful to remember that this is their journey. It's also important to remember, if planned purposefully, a gap year can add a lot of value to a young person’s journey. 

Some activities to be considered during a gap year include:
Work – gain experience, try different jobs to find the best fit.
Volunteer – give back to the community while gaining experience and contacts.
Travel – gain independence, see the world, learn new life experiences and develop greater cultural understanding and sensitivity.
Upgrade courses – option to produce better outcomes for post-secondary admissions. 
There are some excellent gap-year programs and resources available:  Be sure to discuss these ideas with your youth and develop a plan so the year proves to be beneficial.