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.

The nine essential skills are:

  1. reading text (prose)
  2. document use
  3. numeracy
  4. writing
  5. oral communication
  6. working with others
  7. thinking skills
  8. digital technology
  9. continuous learning

Investing in your essential skills can result in:

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

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

What is TOWES?

The Test of Workplace Essential Skills is Canada's literacy and essential skills assessment. Over 120,000 people have used TOWES on their pathways to success in education, employment and life.

TOWES is a nationally recognized suite of assessment and training products that use authentic Canadian work and life content to assess and improve critical skills for success in working, learning and life. Our tools accurately measure and build reading, document use and numeracy skills – competencies that are closely linked to productivity, safety, accuracy and ability to learn technical skills. Learn about TOWES here.

Benefits of using TOWES

Employers can identify and develop workers' skills to prepare them for a wide range of jobs.

Educators and trainers can use identified strengths and weaknesses to develop student learning plans.

Employees, students and job seekers can make better informed career and education decisions.

More Information

Are you interested in taking a TOWES assessment?  Contact Career Enhancement programs at 306-775-7577 or

Upcoming Training Opportunities

Essential Skills and TOWES Administrator training in Saskatoon - dates pending.

Contact Us

Lori Hall