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Using the Skills for Success to help jobseekers adapt to change

Maintaining current knowledge of occupational skill requirements for Canada’s rapidly evolving labour market is vital for career development practitioners (CDPs). Over the past 20 years, advancements in automation, artificial intelligence and other technologies have exponentially increased rates of labour market change, affecting employers and jobseekers who struggle to meet shifting skill demands.

A 2021 McKinsey report on the Future of work after COVID-19 highlights disruptions caused by the pandemic: “The pandemic accelerated existing trends in remote work, e-commerce and automation, with up to 25 percent more workers than previously estimated potentially needing to switch occupations.” These changes have brought about an urgent need for upskilling Canadian workers.

Consider the role of CDPs during the pandemic. For most, online service delivery became the norm, requiring career professionals to quickly pivot and use their digital skills while modifying other skills such as communication and collaboration. CDPs lacking foundational digital skills likely found this shift challenging and faced difficulty adapting to the new online work environment.

Ongoing shifts in the workplace underscore the importance of solid foundational skills for all workers in Canada. One resource career professionals can use to help support those accessing career services evaluate their strengths and areas of improvement is the recently released Skills for Success framework.

What is Skills for Success?

Building on Canada’s essential skills (ES) model, the updated Skills for Success framework identifies nine skills that are foundational for learning, work and life. Skills for Success are pragmatic, work-focused principles that are transferable to the majority of Canadian occupations. The skills will evolve with labour market shifts and emerging developments. They are assessable, teachable/learnable, are globally recognized and reflect the diversity of “lived experiences of all Canadians.”

The new Skills for Success model keeps the ES core workplace literacy skills of reading, writing and numeracy, while adding digital skills to the list. In response to workplace demands, the model puts emphasis on the social-emotional skills that cannot be replaced by technology. These include adaptability, collaboration, creativity and innovation, communication and problem solving.

“Ongoing shifts in the workplace underscore the importance of solid foundational skills for all workers in Canada.”

Each skill is described and defined through six components and descriptive proficiencies. Components articulate different dimensions or constructs of a skill while proficiencies rate the progression of difficulty or complexity.

All nine skills are repeatable processes or behaviours rather than personality traits or pre-dispositions, which is of particular importance for the social emotional skills (SRDC, 2021). The skills focus on one’s ability to understand, apply and reflect on the application of skills. While the skills rarely occur in isolation, the model identifies each skill as a separate entity in order to create the potential for assessment and skill development.

How can I use Skills for Success?

Practitioners will find that the Skills for Success transfer easily across all occupations and appear in almost any situation or task. The framework helps clients to identify and articulate their transferable skills and develop a skills inventory that can be used in career planning and job search.

Skills for Success are measurable. Assessing a client’s skills proficiency level(s) helps the learner to understand their current starting point in relation to a career pathway. Assessments range from scientifically validated scoring (core foundational literacy skills) to self and observational assessments (social-emotional skills).

When clients have self-awareness of their skill levels, practitioners are better positioned to help them create effective, realistic skill development plans. Using the Skills for Success framework in conjunction with other standardized career planning tools (personality, values, interest, etc.) can provide a realistic picture of what can be done here and now, or what can be achieved with some training and experience.

Skills for Success are also teachable as repeatable processes or behaviours. The components provide a lens to the multiple dimensions or constructs of each skill, which can be used to identify topics for skills development. For example, Collaboration components include “value diversity and inclusivity of others, manage difficult interactions with other people, reflect and improve on teamwork” (ESDC 2021). The proficiencies provide realistic benchmarks for each skill and present examples that are readily understandable. Practitioners use proficiency ratings to gauge appropriate activities and scaffold learning in a manageable sequential manner.

The Skills for Success website offers information on a range of skills assessments and skills training tools that can be found on their website.

The impact that occurs when individuals gain an awareness of their skills and recognize they have the ability to learn and develop skills is often profound. Clients gain confidence, self-esteem and career self-efficacy that leads to engagement in lifelong learning and achievement of career goals. In our employment programs we see commonly see this transformation by observing body language where at the start of a program clients’ s often walk in with their shoulders rounded, looking at the floor. By the end of the program, these same individuals stand tall and maintain eye contact.

The Skills for Success framework  provides practitioners with information and tools they can use to help clients build a foundational skills inventory that facilitates their ability to navigate the technological and societal challenges that will continues to drive the 21st-century workplace.

Allen Keeley Author
Allen Keeley is a Skills Coach at Douglas College. Allen has over 20 years of experience working as a career development professional. For the past 10 years, Allen’s focus has been centred around helping vulnerable populations to recognize and develop the foundational skills needed to be adaptable and transition in today’s rapidly changing labour market. Allen facilitates the Essential Skills Practitioner Training program at Douglas College, where he shares best practices and provides instruction on how to incorporate skills assessment and development into the work of career professionals.
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Allen Keeley Author
Allen Keeley is a Skills Coach at Douglas College. Allen has over 20 years of experience working as a career development professional. For the past 10 years, Allen’s focus has been centred around helping vulnerable populations to recognize and develop the foundational skills needed to be adaptable and transition in today’s rapidly changing labour market. Allen facilitates the Essential Skills Practitioner Training program at Douglas College, where he shares best practices and provides instruction on how to incorporate skills assessment and development into the work of career professionals.
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