The Office of Literacy and Essential Skills

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Organization: HRSDC
Started in: 2011


Literacy and Essential Skills (LES):

  • are needed for work, learning and life;
  • are the foundation for learning all other skills; ;
  • help people evolve with their jobs and adapt to workplace change.

Through extensive research, the Government of Canada has identified key literacy and Essential Skills used in nearly every job and throughout daily life.

Newcomers and Essential Skills

  • According to Canadian employers, some recent immigrants may have LES challenges that present a barrier to their successful labour market integration.
  • There is evidence that suggests that within the immigrant population low literacy in English/French is disproportionately high.
  • Many adult immigrants with low literacy are employed and in their prime working years

Immigrants and Skills for the Workplace

  • Skills such as communication, attitude, teamwork and leadership are often ranked higher by employers in importance than technical skills.
  • Language and presentation skills are key; plus being able to resolve conflict, accept criticism, assume leadership, be flexible, make small talk and understand workplace etiquette.
  • Many employers feel that although immigrants have the technical skills, they often lack the above skills need for the Canadian workplace.
  • OLES has tools can resources that can help!

Tools and Resources

  • Free and easy-to-use tools that can address different LES challenges
  • (PDF versions are available on-line or paper copies can be ordered)
  • Can be used by various audiences: Teachers/Trainers/ Career Counsellors, Individuals (Job Seekers & Workers), Employers and HR Professionals, Apprentices & Tradespersons
  • Can be self-administered or delivered through practitioners such as career counsellors, teachers etc.

Tool Categories

    Tools to better understand your LES strengths and weaknesses
    Tools to improve LES levels
    Information about how LES are used in the trades

Who Uses OLES Tools?

1- LINC/ESL teachers and Career Counsellors

Essential Skills are the foundation for learning job-specific skills. Addressing the Essential Skills issues of job seekers and workers can help you to better support them to get a job, succeed at work and adapt to change.

Examples of Tools Used by LINC /ESL teachers and Career Counsellors:

  • Vocabulary Building Workbook- Contains lessons and words commonly used in the Canadian workplace
  • Oral Communication Tip Sheet
  • Computer Use Tip Sheet
  • Working With Other Tip Sheet

2- Employers and HR Professionals

Finding and keeping workers who have the knowledge and skills needed to get the job done is necessary for success in any business. Integrating Essential Skills into the workplace can help to enhance recruitment and retention practices, and achieve better results.

Use these tools to:

  • learn more about Essential Skills and how they can contribute to workplace success;
  • integrate Essential Skills into recruitment practices (e.g. job descriptions, advertisements, selection processes);
  • better understand the Essential Skills strengths and areas for improvement of workers and the organization as a whole; and
  • integrate Essential Skills upgrading into training and development programs

Examples of Tools Used by Employers and HR Professionals:

The Organizational Needs Assessment

This tool provides a framework for conducting a basic Essential Skills needs assessment in your organization. Using this tool will help you determine whether Essential Skills gaps are affecting your organization’s performance and identify which skills may require upgrading

Hiring Checklist

This tool is designed to support employers’ hiring decisions. Finding out which Essential Skills a potential employee would bring to the workplace is important. It can help determine if the skills a candidate demonstrates match the skills required for the position being filled.

Top Tools Ordered by Immigrant Serving Organizations

  • Passport (File:PassportENG.pdf)
  • Vocabulary Building Workbook (File:Vocabulary workbook.pdf)
  • Document Use Indicator
  • Numeracy Self-Assessment
  • Oral Communication Self-Assessment
  • Reading Tip Sheet
  • Computer Use Tip Sheet
  • Oral Communication Tip Sheet
  • Document Use Tip Sheet
  • Working with Others Tip Sheet

Order/download/search for tools