Everything You Need to Know About Workplace Essential Skills Training


Every single task we complete, whether it’s at home, in the community, or at work, requires skills. There are many different types of skills: technical skills, social skills, and essential skills. Essential skills, now called Skills for Success, are used every day in the workplace, and they build the foundation for learning new and more difficult skills. These skills increase the chances of finding meaningful employment and provide more opportunities for career mobility: they are the key to unlocking workplace success!

The reality of workplace essential skills 

Everyone has essential skills, but many of us could benefit from training and improvement. Most jobs in Canada require employees to complete complex tasks that use a combination of skills at varying degrees of difficulty. For example, a hotel clerk will frequently need to apply strong oral communication and digital technology skills, whereas a carpenter will encounter more tasks that require numeracy. With workplace essential skills training, employees learn how to apply essential skills in their industry and learn strategies for using them in new contexts. As job requirements shift to keep up with the dynamic world we live in, your workers need to be equipped to adapt to new careers, tasks, technology, and equipment.

Essential skills are the key to a successful workplace

Each workplace has different needs and uses skills in specific contexts. When your team hits the floor each day, you want them to be prepared for the types of tasks they will have to complete, but more importantly, you want them to excel. That’s why investing in essential skills training is a must!

Ensuring that your team can complete tasks according to your industry’s standards is critical. Integrated training that prioritizes essential skills and teaches strategies to apply skills in various settings gives employees the tools to complete any task effectively. At AWES we deliver integrated training solutions that are customized, targeted, and contextualized to your industry to help your employees perform to the best of their abilities.

You may be thinking “I have an onboarding training program; doesn’t that cover what they need to know?” This type of training may work for some employees, but those with lower essential skills levels may have difficulty. For example, if a new employee has lower reading skills, they might struggle to read a training manual or employee package without strategies to help them understand the content. If your employees are already completing basic tasks successfully, workplace skills training will prepare them to take on more complicated tasks, take initiative, and accept more responsibilities.


Workplace essential skills training is for everyone

When it comes to workplace essential skills training, everyone benefits. Involving the whole team, including management, is an opportunity to refresh and strengthen old skills. When you know what employees are learning, you can facilitate conversations and have a point of reference for any future issues.

Having all employees participate in training creates a stronger team and working environment. For organizations working with immigrants who are new to the workforce, this also provides them with more direct access to colleagues and management which helps them integrate and adapt.

Strengthen essential skills and the rest will follow

Workplace essential skills training is an investment in the future of your organization. Training that is targeted to your specific needs and contextualized to match your industry improves your employees’ ability to complete tasks effectively, and enhances productivity by ensuring your employees can adapt to change and rise to challenges.

Essential skills training generates an average return on investment of 27%, with some organizations reporting returns as high as 300%. Studies have also shown that just a 1% increase in literacy skills can boost productivity by 5%. Other commonly reported benefits are:

    • Improved on-site safety
    • Reduced errors and mistakes
    • Less employee turnover
    • Cost savings
    • Higher productivity
    • Stronger internal communication and better customer service
    • Increased employee retention, loyalty, and satisfaction
    • Increased profitability

How to set up essential skills training for your workplace

1. Assess your workplace
Pinpoint any critical gaps or mistakes that are being repeated. This
checklist will help you identify signs that your employees could use essential skills training.

2. Contact us for a consultation
Get in touch with AWES to discuss your training needs and build a cost estimate. We have experience working with various industries and have an expert team of consultants and training facilitators. We are confident that we will develop a customized training framework that will deliver results. Contact us at:
admin@awes.ca

3. Check funding availability
Subsidies for workplace essential skills training can cover a portion of your costs. Find more information on eligibility, applications, and organizational requirements on the Alberta job grant page, or on the Alberta Works site. 

4. Prepare your staff
Discuss the training plan with your team and let everyone know what to expect. Set aside some time for employees to ask questions and reassure everyone that training is not meant to single anyone out, but to provide equal access to on-the-job training that everyone can benefit from.

5. Implement for the future
Once you have completed your essential skills training with AWES, be sure to carry over the training into your daily discussions and integrate it into your onboarding and new employee training for continued growth and success!

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