Essential Skill Levels

    • Skill levels are provided for each Essential Skill. These skill levels indicate the level of complexity involved in the use of a skill in a particular task.

    • Level 1 tasks are the least complex and level 4/5 tasks are the most complex. Skill levels are associated with the workplace tasks and not the workers performing these tasks.

    • For example, a task that requires you to follow simple written directions such as the directions on a bottle is a level 1 Reading Text task. A task that requires you to interpret complex information using specialized knowledge such as scientific terminology is a level 5 Reading Text task.

    • More detailed information on skill levels is available in the Readers' Guide to Human Resources and Skills Development Canada’s (HRSDC’s) Essential Skills Profiles.

    Descriptions for each Essential Skill are shown below.

Reading Text

    Reading materials in the form of sentences or paragraphs such as notes, letters, memos, manuals, specifications, books, reports and journals.

    Tasks at skill levels 1 to 5 involve the following:

    Level 1

    • Reading relatively short, simple texts (e.g., memos, notes) to find a single piece of information

    • Following simple written directions (e.g., directions on bottles)

    Level 2

    • Reading simple texts (e.g., letters, memos) to find several pieces of information

    • Reading more difficult texts to find a single piece of information

    • Interpreting simple pieces of information from a single source

    Level 3

    • Choosing and integrating various pieces of information from one source or several sources (e.g., reports, manuals)

    • Interpreting several simple pieces of information from several sources

    • Distinguishing between relevant and irrelevant information

    Level 4

    • Integrating and synthesizing information from various sources or from relatively detailed texts (e.g., reference books)

    • Interpreting complex texts (e.g., regulations)

    Level 5

    • Synthesizing information from various sources or from very detailed texts (e.g., specifications)

    • Interpreting very complex texts, using specialized knowledge (e.g., professional or technical journals)

Writing

    The preparation of written materials for a variety of purposes. Completing such tasks as filling in forms, writing text and using computers to write.

    Tasks at skill levels 1 to 5 involve the following:

    Level 1

    • Preparing short written materials for the purpose of informing, reminding, or organizing (e.g., notes, lists)

    • Using an established format or no formatting, as appropriate, to present the materials

    Level 2

    • Preparing written materials in one or more paragraphs (e.g., letters, report forms) on routine or everyday matters for a variety of purposes (e.g., informing, requesting information)

    • Using structural models such as templates to present the materials

    Level 3

    • Preparing written materials on non-routine matters (e.g., reports, leases) for a variety of purposes (e.g., explaining, expressing opinions, giving directions)

    • Using more complex structural models or templates (e.g., a structure with a table of contents, headings, footnotes) to present the materials

    Level 4

    • Preparing written materials (e.g., manuals) that present considerable information for a specific purpose (e.g., analysis, comparison)

    • Gathering and selecting appropriate information for the written project OR transforming written materials for a different audience

    • Using a format that may require modification

    • Preparing written materials appropriate for a specific audience

    Level 5

    • Preparing relatively long written materials (e.g., research reports) that present an evaluation or critique OR preparing materials of any length that demand originality and effective presentation

    • Synthesizing information from various sources OR creating original material (e.g., a work of fiction)

    • Using a complex structure or format to present the materials (e.g., a structure with subsections)

    • Creating appropriate tone and/or mood

Document Use

    Reading different types of material such as labels, signs, lists, tables, graphs, forms, diagrams, blueprints and other similar material.

    Tasks at skill levels 1 to 5 involve the following:

    Level 1

    • Using one document that is simple in content and structure (e.g., sign, label, list)

    • Carrying out limited searches for information and/or entering only a few pieces of information

    • Using or entering information only in the form in which it is found (e.g., entering it word for word on a list)

    Level 2

    • Using one or more documents that are of the same type, that are simple in structure, and that contain several pieces of information (e.g., simple tables)

    • Using one or two criteria or elements to guide a search for one or more pieces of information

    • Performing limited analysis (e.g., rearranging information in order to make simple comparisons)

    Level 3

    • Using many documents that may be of different types (e.g., graphs, tables) and that are organized in quite complex ways (e.g., in sections with subheadings)

    • Using various criteria to guide a search for information OR using the results of one search as a starting point for other searches

    • Analysing, selecting, and integrating information before using it or entering it

    Level 4

    • Using many documents of different types (e.g., forms, charts, graphs) or a complex document that presents a lot of information

    • Using various criteria to locate many pieces of information, developing the criteria if necessary, OR using the results of one search as a starting point for other searches

    • Synthesizing information from various sources and evaluating it for accuracy before using it or entering it

    Level 5

    • Using many documents of different types or a very complex document that presents a lot of information

    • Using various criteria to locate many pieces of information, developing the criteria if necessary, OR using the results of one search as a starting point for other searches, developing the search criteria if necessary

    • Evaluating information with regard to all aspects of its quality, and drawing conclusions from it

Computer Use

    The use of any type of computerized technology.

    Tasks at skill levels 1 to 5 involve the following:

    Level 1

    • Performing tasks that require only basic interaction with computer-controlled machinery or equipment (e.g., entering given codes to unlock equipment, responding to light-emitting diodes [LEDs])

    • Using only a few basic commands with no knowledge of software required (e.g., sending an e-mail message to one person)

    Level 2

    • Performing tasks that require the use of several simple software features (e.g., formatting a letter)

    • Using software for a limited number of functions that make use of existing structures or standard formats (e.g., entering data onto a given form)

    Level 3

    • Performing tasks that involve several operations and the use of a wide range of software features or options (e.g., formatting complex documents, setting up and configuring software)

    • Performing various kinds of tasks that may involve some experimentation to achieve the desired results

    Level 4

    • Performing complex tasks that involve several operations and the extensive use of software features, and that may involve selection of software and linking of several software packages

    • Managing an existing computer network

    Level 5

    • Performing tasks that involve assessment of technology needs, selection of appropriate computing and software solutions, and evaluation of results

    • Designing, writing, and customizing computer programs for specific purposes

    • Designing and setting up new computer networks

Oral Communication

    Using verbal skills to exchange ideas and information with others.

    Tasks at skill levels 1 to 4 involve the following:

    Level 1

    • Communicating orally in simple ways (e.g., responding to everyday inquiries, obtaining specific information)

    • Dealing with facts involving few details

    • Communicating, usually with one person at a time, in an everyday and predictable context using an established format and style

    Level 2

    • Communicating orally in moderately demanding ways (e.g., exchanging detailed information, reassuring a client, explaining procedures)

    • Dealing mostly with facts that are moderately complex and detailed, and also with opinions

    • Communicating with one or more people at a time in an everyday and largely predictable context (e.g., in a familiar setting), using a range of formats and styles, and dealing with minor conflicts

    Level 3

    • Communicating orally in demanding ways (e.g., persuading, counselling)

    • Dealing with complex and detailed matters involving facts, concepts, and opinions

    • Communicating with one or more people at a time in occasionally unpredictable contexts (e.g., meetings with unfamiliar people), using a wide range of formats and styles, and dealing with conflict when necessary

    Level 4

    • Communicating orally in very demanding ways (e.g., solving complex problems)

    • Dealing with very complex and detailed matters, using language that is conceptual and/or technical

    • Communicating with one or more people at a time in quite unpredictable contexts, adapting a wide range of formats and styles to suit the person or group, and dealing with significant conflicts or differing points of view (e.g., leading negotiations)

Money Math

    The use of mathematical skills in making financial transactions, such as handling cash, preparing bills, and making payments.

    Tasks at skill levels 1 to 5 involve the following:

    Level 1

    • Entering amounts on a cash register

    • Determining the total for simple bills

    • Making change

    • Receiving payments

    Level 2

    • Handling foreign currency in a cash transaction

    • Calculating prices using a formula (e.g., regular price minus a specific percentage for a discount)

    • Determining the total for accounts and/or bills that include calculation of one of the following: discount, tax, interest

    Level 3

    • Preparing pay cheques using rates of pay, deduction schedules, calculations of bonuses, and/or other factors

    • Determining the total for accounts and/or bills that include calculation of two or more of the following: discount(s), tax(es), interest

    Level 4

    • Quickly and accurately making mental calculations that involve identifying and using numerous mathematical operations

    Level 5

    • Forecasting prices (e.g., of stocks) by taking into account various critical factors that must be estimated on the basis of past performance and projections of future trends

Scheduling or Budgeting and Accounting

    Planning for the best use of time and money, as well as monitoring of the use of time and money.

    Tasks at skill levels 1 to 5 involve the following:

    Level 1

    • Recording costs in relation to categories of budgets

    • Monitoring schedules or budgets and reporting shortages or surpluses

    • Making entries in financial records

    Level 2

    • Determining the number of packages to buy, using the number of units required as a basis

    • Determining the number of workers required and amount of time needed to complete a job, using production rates per person as a basis

    • Preparing simple financial summaries

    Level 3

    • Adjusting established budgets and schedules to incorporate new information

    • Comparing two options with different cost structures

    Level 4

    • Planning and monitoring schedules and budgets for small or short-term projects

    • Auditing financial records to determine accuracy and appropriate use of financial procedures

    Level 5

    • Planning and monitoring schedules and budgets for large or multi-phased projects

    • Comparing long-term investment alternatives where future rates of return are not known

Measurement and Calculation

    The measurement and calculation of quantities, areas, volumes, and/or distances.

    Tasks at skill levels 1 to 5 involve the following:

    Level 1

    • Taking measurements in a one-step process and recording results

    • Measuring out quantities

    • Setting instruments to particular angles and other numeric settings

    Level 2

    • Calculating areas and volumes of simple, familiar shapes

    • Converting between measurement systems or converting quantities by doubling, halving, etc.

    Level 3

    • Calculating areas that are a combination of simple, familiar shapes

    • Making scale drawings

    • Taking precise measurements using specialized equipment

    Level 4

    • Calculating areas and volumes of complex irregular shapes

    Level 5

    • Devising estimates and making calculations of measurements that cannot be taken directly

    Data Analysis

    The collection and analysis of data in numerical form.

    Tasks at skill levels 1 to 5 involve the following:

    Level 1

    • Making simple numerical comparisons (e.g., identifying the higher of two readings)

    Level 2

    • Calculating simple numerical summaries (e.g., monthly averages, average rates of return on investments)

    Level 3

    • Calculating averages across sets of readings, comparing them to acceptable ranges, and drawing conclusions from the findings (e.g., using statistics for quality control, applying principles of probability)

    Level 4

    • Calculating appropriate descriptive statistics (e.g., using statistics from financial statements to compare a company’s performance with that of similar companies)

    • Analysing differences in rates (e.g., rates of population growth)

    Level 5

    • Conducting analyses and testing hypotheses by using mathematical models

    • Taking into account the impact of different variables when doing analyses and making calculations (e.g., using information on interest rates, political events, and the global economy when analysing investments)

    • Making projections using appropriate data (e.g., determining rates of return in a pension plan using data on annual contributions)

Numerical Estimation

    The production of estimates in numerical terms.

    Tasks at skill levels 1 to 4 involve the following:

    Level 1

    • Providing an estimate in a situation in which errors can be easily and quickly corrected with minimal expense

    • Taking into consideration only one factor about which all relevant information is known

    • Using a given formula and procedure in making the estimate

    Level 2

    • Providing an estimate in a situation in which errors can be corrected but at some inconvenience and expense

    • Taking into consideration only a few factors about which most relevant information is known

    • Using a given formula and procedure in making the estimate, while taking into consideration other factors

    Level 3

    • Providing an estimate in a situation in which errors have significant consequences but can be corrected

    • Taking into consideration many factors about which some information is not known for certain

    • Using a procedure that has been developed for making the estimate (no formula available)

    Level 4

    • Providing an estimate in a situation in which errors have significant consequences and cannot be corrected or can only be corrected at great expense

    • Taking into consideration many factors about which a lot of information is not known

    • Developing a formula or procedure for making the estimate

Job Task Planning and Organizing

    The planning and organization of one’s own work.

    Tasks at skill levels 1 to 4 involve the following:

    Level 1

    • Performing tasks that are done in an established order

    • Performing tasks that are rarely disrupted

    • Performing tasks that do not require coordination with the work of others

    Level 2

    • Planning and organizing their work within a limited framework

    • Performing tasks according to the priority assigned to various categories of tasks by someone else

    • Performing tasks that may be disrupted but the day’s work plan is not changed

    • Coordinating some of their work with the work of others

    Level 3

    • Planning and organizing their work following general guidelines

    • Establishing the order in which their tasks are completed, subject to the supervisor’s approval

    • Making adjustments to the order in which their tasks are done, or rescheduling tasks or people

    • Coordinating and integrating their work with that of others

    Level 4

    • Planning and organizing their work with complete authority

    • Establishing the order in which tasks are completed

    • Frequently making adjustments to the order of tasks, rescheduling tasks or people, or setting new priorities

    • Creating and maintaining links with the work of others

Decision Making

    Making a choice among options using appropriate information.

    Tasks at skill levels 1 to 4 involve the following:

    Level 1

    • Making a decision in a situation in which all relevant information is known; in which limited judgment is needed; and in which decisions can be easily reversed

    • Following a standard procedure in which exceptions are clearly defined

    • Using similar decisions from the past as models

    Level 2

    • Making a decision in a situation in which most relevant information is known; in which some judgment is needed; in which errors have minor consequences; and in which decisions can be reversed with only some inconvenience and/or expense

    • Following a standard procedure in which exceptions require some interpretation

    • Using comparable decisions from the past as models

    Level 3

    • Making a decision in a situation in which some information is uncertain; in which considerable judgment is needed; in which errors have significant consequences but can be corrected; and in which decisions can be reversed only with considerable difficulty

    • Following a standard procedure that allows a lot of room for personal interpretation

    • Using somewhat similar decisions from the past as models

    Level 4

    • Making a decision in a situation in which important information is not known; in which excellent judgment is needed; in which errors have significant consequences and either cannot be corrected or can only be corrected at great cost; and in which the decision cannot be reversed or can only be reversed with great difficulty and/or at great expense

    • Making the decision in a situation in which there are no established procedures or models of similar decisions to guide decision making

Problem Solving

    The identification and solving of problems.

    Tasks at skill levels 1 to 4 involve the following:

    Level 1

    • Dealing with simple problems that are easily identified and have a limited number of factors

    • Selecting the prescribed solution for a problem

    • Checking that the problem has been solved

    Level 2

    • Dealing with problems that are of moderate difficulty and that have several factors, most of which are clearly defined

    • Identifying the problem and selecting the most appropriate solution

    • Determining whether the solution was successful

    Level 3

    • Dealing with difficult problems that have a broad range of factors, some of which are difficult to define

    • Selecting the best procedure for identifying the problem, and modifying an existing solution, if necessary

    • Determining whether the solution was successful, and identifying the need for any further action

    Level 4

    • Dealing with very difficult problems that have a broad range of factors, some of which are unpredictable or conflict with other factors

    • Designing the procedure for identifying the problem, and providing an original solution

    • Identifying criteria for determining whether the solution was successful, and assessing the solution in relation to these criteria

    Finding Information

    The use of a variety of sources, including written text, people, computerized databases, and information systems. (See also Reading Text, Document Use, Computer Use, and Oral Communication above).

    Tasks at skill levels 1 to 4 involve the following: 

    Level 1

    • Consulting established sources (e.g., telephone book, airline flight schedule, software manual or hotline) that are provided for the worker

    • Using information only in the form in which it is obtained (e.g., telephone numbers, flight times, instructions in a word processing package)

    Level 2

    • Identifying and consulting specific sources that are easily located (e.g., supervisor, co-workers, brochures, websites)

    • Selecting information according to established criteria (e.g., compiling a list of books, contacting suppliers to obtain specific information)

    Level 3

    • Conducting a search for specific information (e.g., locating witnesses to a crime, collecting samples for environmental tests, researching scientific articles)

    • Analysing and using the information found (e.g., information from manuals and/or charts, information from injured persons about their medical history and current condition)

    Level 4

    • Gathering information from several different sources (e.g., technical manuals, maps, government regulations) OR doing original research (e.g., developing a new vaccine)

    • Conducting complex analysis and/or synthesis (e.g., analysing information from a variety of sources) in order to develop a solution to a problem

    Critical Thinking

    Making judgments by using criteria to evaluate ideas and information and the related consequences.

    Tasks at skill levels 1 to 4 involve the following:

    Level 1

    • Judgments based on a few, simple criteria

    • Criteria is either at hand or is easily obtained

    • Minor consequences associated with the judgment

    Level 2

    • Judgments based on several well-defined criteria

    • Effort required to select, organize and evaluate information from a limited number of sources

    • Consequences associated with the judgment may affect the individual and those close to them

    Level 3

    • Judgments based on criteria reflecting many points of view and many interests

    • Effort required to select, organize and evaluate information from a limited number of sources

    • Consequences associated with the judgment are significant; they may affect an organization or extend beyond an organization

    Level 4

    • Judgments based on different and sometimes conflicting points of view and public interests

    • Major effort required to identify, interpret, organize, synthesize and evaluate information

    • Consequences associated with the judgment are significant, are typically on a large-scale, and have the potential to affect many people and multiple interests