Essential Skills

Essential skills are the foundational skills required to successfully participate in the Canadian labour market. Individuals who have strong essential skills are able to learn the critical technical skills of their chosen occupation. 

At Saskatchewan Polytechnic, three of the essential skills (reading text, document use and numeracy) are measured by using TOWES (Test of Workplace Essential Skills).

The nine essential skills are:

  • reading text (prose)
  • document use
  • numeracy
  • writing
  • oral communication
  • working with others
  • thinking skills
  • digital technology
  • continuous learning

Investing in your essential skills can result in:

  • improved self-confidence
  • increased job prospects
  • higher earnings
  • increased productivity
  • increased motivation

Getting Started

The essential skills toolkit consists of a series of generic, easy to use tools that can help you improve your essential skills.

Test of Workplace Essential Skills (TOWES) Assessment

Employees who lack essential skills have higher accident rates and are often less productive. With the Test of Workplace Essential Skills (TOWES), employers can identify skill gaps and provide focused training to improve productivity, safety and profit, as well as employee retention.

Test of Workplace Essential Skills (TOWES) measures three essential skills needed for safe and productive employment: reading text, document use and numeracy.

Test results are assessed against the level of these skills required in profiled occupations.

TOWES can be provided through Saskatchewan Polytechnic and through the Saskatchewan's Regional Colleges.

More Information

Upcoming Training Opportunities

Next Essential Skills and TOWES Administrator Training:  September 15 & 16, 2016 @ Regina Campus.  For more information call 306-775-7467 or

Contact Us

Prince Albert

Garry Whitley


Joan Patterson