Using the Skills for Success Framework in Career Services

Written by: Sareena Hopkins, Executive Director, Canadian Career Development Foundation

Career development is the lifelong process of managing learning, work, and transitions that enables Canadians to be the architects of their preferred future. Every day, career development professionals (CDPs) help individuals develop insights, strategies, and a range of skills that enable them to know and be true to themselves, make informed decisions, and strategically navigate the dynamic and often unpredictable labour market. The new Skills for Success (S4S) framework offers a current and comprehensive structure for CDPs to focus, track, and evaluate skill-building work and its impact.

A new skills model

To start, it’s important to get a handle on what this framework is and how it has evolved from the Essential Skills. The Government of Canada formally launched Skills for Success in May 2021. It builds from the preceding Essential Skills framework and reconceptualizes the foundational skills individuals need to succeed in work, life, and learning. The S4S framework includes the following transferrable skills: Writing, Reading, Problem Solving, Numeracy, Digital, Creativity & Innovation, Communication, Collaboration, and Adaptability. The full framework can be accessed on the Office of Skills for Success (OSS) website, along with excellent videos that demonstrate the skills in action.

Figure 1: Skills for Success (2021)

Using the framework in practice

When individuals come for career services, they are not seeking the status quo; they want something (or several things!) in their life to change. Often, these changes involve becoming more aware of their transferable skills and building new skills. In your career practice, you can use the Skills for Success framework in a variety of ways to enhance this part of your work.

Here are a few suggestions for when you are ready to begin integrating Skills for Success into your practice:

  • As you work with individuals on their transferable skills, use the Skills for Success framework as a reference. It’s the most up-to-date transferable skill framework we have. When using S4S, start by discussing what skills from the framework are already areas of strength. These skills can serve as a foundation because strengths in one area can be the building blocks for those in another. Then, explore what skills they most need and want to work on. Track, recognize, and celebrate their progress as they develop their Skills for Success. Discuss the many ways they can apply these skills in their learning, work, and life.
  • As you develop new interventions, think about the end game – the desired outcomes. If these include any improvements in skills, consider using the Skills for Success resources available on the OSS website.
  • Review existing workshops and interventions and, anytime there is a reference to skill development, use the S4S framework to update the language and ensure skill lists are current and complete.
  • Use the Skills for Success framework to evaluate the impact of your work. Looking at the S4S framework as a guide, ask individuals to identify any skills they developed as a result of your work together.

Having a shared understanding of what the individual wants to change, being intentional about supporting these changes, tracking progress, and adjusting services based on real change…this is the heart of evidence-based, consumer-driven service delivery. The Skills for Success framework is a great new resource to support this in your day-to-day practice.