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We encourage you to explore the resources listed here to learn more about:

Essential Skills

HRSDC’s website (

This website Contains a wealth of information about Essential Skills. Included are profiles of nearly 200 entry level jobs in Canada. These profiles provide detailed examples of how Essential Skills – reading text, document use, numeracy, oral communication etc. – are used to complete job tasks.  

Teachers and instructors will find the Readers’ Guide to Essential Skills Profiles,  which can be downloaded at this site, very helpful in understanding complexity levels and other aspects of this job-profiling methodolgy.

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Human Resources Development Canada and Statistics Canada 1996. Reading the Future: A Portrait of Literacy in Canada.
In this publication, the results of the International Adult Literacy Survey (IALS) are analyzed by region and language.

Information about IALS is significant and plentiful. Use a search engine and the words International Adult Literacy Survey to find more information about the numerous surveys that have been conducted, related research and reaction from around the world.

Test Review: Workplace Assessment Tools by Maurice Taylor
In this discussion paper, seven assessment tools that have been used in workplace programs are reviewed. Written before TOWES was developed, this paper gives test users a framework for making decisions about tests and their appropriateness for their programs and individual learners.

To order copies contact:
National Literacy Secretariat
Human Resources Development Canada
Ottawa, Ontario, K1A 1K5
T: (819) 953-5280
F: (819) 953-2338  

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Curriculum Starters 

1. All of the materials that are posted on the How do your skills Measure Up? site are available on CD for easy down load. These materials can be integrated into curriculum to suit the skill levels and interests of learners.

2. SkillPlan Publications

SkillPlan, a joint labour and management initiative of the B C construction industry, was established as a not-for-profit society in March, 1991. The Council is the industry’s response to an evolving workplace that requires greater reading, writing, math, problem solving and oral communication skills. To this end and with financial support from Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, a number of publications have been produced. The following are a few that may be of interest. 

Document Use at Work
SkillPlan’s Document Literacy and The Language of Documents are now bundled together as a set in this new presentation, Document Use at Work. Together, the two provide a thorough introduction to using documents, an essential skill.

Numeracy at Work
Numeracy At Work uses stories from workers across Canada to illustrate how they use numeracy in their jobs, and provides activities and suggestions for further exploration. These applied work activities are intended as a resource for educators to enrich their instructional activities.  

Writing at Work
Writing at Work is a resource based on the world of work. It describes the writing used in many occupations, using the framework of HRSDC’s Essential Skills Profiles, which have become the standard in addressing workplace writing in Canada. Each chapter examines the purpose, style, organization and use of such writing formats as memos, entry forms, logbooks, bulletins and regulations.

Reading at Work
The Reading at Work Workplace Reader and Facilitator's Guide illustrate how the Essential Skills of reading text and document use are applied in the workplace. Authentic workplace documents and real-life stories of workers on the job form the basis of learning activities. Reading at Work will enable instructors and trainers to build reading competency with students, workers, and new Canadians.

A complete list of publications and ordering options are available at  

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