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ABC Life Literacy Canada with Skills/Compétences Canada celebrate 10 years of Essential Skills Day

Today marks the 10th year of Essential Skills Day, an annual initiative to raise awareness about the importance of essential skills training in strengthening Canada’s workforce. Founded by ABC Life Literacy Canada, a national literacy organization, in 2010, the day encourages Canadians to improve upon these important skills.

The nine essential skills, identified by the Government of Canada (reading, document use, numeracy, writing, oral communications, working with others, thinking, digital technology, continuous learning), are the foundation for all other skills and enable people to evolve with their jobs and adapt to workplace change. These skills are used in every job to varying degrees and at different levels of complexity. They provide the foundation for learning all other skills and enable people to adapt to change in their lives and at work.

In this digital era, the workforce is changing faster than ever. Estimates say that around 84 per cent of jobs in Canada currently require the use of a computer and basic technical skills, and low-skilled jobs increasingly require a basic level of digital literacy. Yet many working-age Canadians lack adequate skills in problem solving in technology-rich environments.

“Strong essential skills are vital in helping Canadians meet the changing needs of the workforce,” said Mack Rogers, Executive Director of ABC Life Literacy Canada. “As more workplaces bring in new technology and automation, workers will need the appropriate skills to be able to manage these technologies, such as troubleshooting, decision-making and communication. Essential Skills Day aims to raise awareness of the importance of these foundational skills.”

The rise of automation will affect all jobs, not just those traditionally known as low-skills jobs. Industries such as law, finance and administration are all seeing jobs being impacted by automation. Future workers will need to be adaptable lifelong learners, as even the most unskilled jobs will require a combination of transferable and specific skills.

“To ensure that our nation continues to have a strong skilled workforce, it is crucial to inform youth about the importance of having Essential Skills to lead a successful career,” said Shaun Thorson, Chief Executive Officer, Skills/Compétences Canada. “Essential Skills Day highlights the Essential Skills that are critical in ensuring Canada’s skilled trade and technology workforce is trained to adapt to the evolving needs of employers.”

To learn more about Essential Skills Day and to download free resources, visit