ERIC Identifier: ED399484
Publication Date: 1995-00-00
Author: McLaughlin, MaryAnn
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse on
Counseling and Student Services Greensboro NC., Canadian Guidance and
Counselling Foundation Ottawa (Ontario).
Employability Skills Profile: What Are Employers Looking For? ERIC Digest.
One of the goals of education in every province and territory in Canada is to
prepare young people to participate in paid work: as employees or self-employed.
In the late 1980s and early 1990s, both employers and educators were voicing
similar concerns and looking for ways to work together to meet this goal.
Employers faced enormous changes in a highly competitive global marketplace. The
new economy demanded new ways of thinking, new ways of managing, and new ways of
working. As the nature and look of jobs changed, the level of education and
skills required also changed. Many educators faced the challenge of preparing
young people to participate in the increasingly complex and changing world of
work by calling on employers to articulate and communicate their needs better.
A major project of the Conference Board of Canada's Corporate Council on
Education was to identify and communicate the skills that they require as
employers of half a million Canadians.
Process and the Product.
The process began with a review of literature and unpublished reports about
the mix of skills that employers expect to find in new recruits. Building on a
framework of Academic, Personal Management, and Teamwork Skills used by a
Michigan Employability Skills Task Force (1989), the Corporate Council drafted a
list of skills in each category, based on the hiring criteria of the companies
they represented. For simplicity the Profile used the word "skills" to represent
the set of characteristics that make a person employable, including knowledge,
know-how, attitudes, and behaviors. One of the guiding principles in the
Employability Skills Profile was that the skills needed for a high-quality
Canadian work force now and in the future must be generic foundational skills
rather than skills specific to certain occupations, levels of responsibility, or
limited to today's jobs.
The next stage involved review of the draft Employability Skills Profile by
other Canadian employers, including small business educators from all levels,
labor, government, equity groups, and community groups. The review consisted of
a questionnaire and meetings with about 100 human-resource professionals. There
was strong agreement that this type of profile would be of significant value,
offering national direction for all organizations and individuals concerned with
education and training in Canada. There were also many suggestions for
refinements in wording or further specification of skills already listed.
With the publication of the "Employability Skills Profile" in May 1992, 25
major employers stated that employers in Canada were looking for the following
who can communicate, think, and continue to learn throughout their lives.
who can demonstrate positive attitudes and behaviors, responsibility, and
who can work with others.
Employers stated that they placed equal emphasis on each of these
characteristics and that the skills in each category were not listed in any
order of priority. In the workplace, as in school, the skills were integrated
and used in varying combinations, depending on the nature of the job.
In June 1992, the Conference Board conducted meetings with 200
representatives of stakeholder groups to address a central question: How close
is this list to the overall foundation skills that young people need to develop
in order to be fully participating members of society? These meetings were
hosted by educators. They agreed that the profile outlined foundational skills
that all Canadians should acquire in their formative years, to enhance
citizenship, self-fulfillment, and employability or self-employment.
HOW IS THE EMPLOYABILITY SKILLS PROFILE USED?
Employability Skills Profile has been widely used by educators, employers,
career counselors, as well as other interested organizations in Canada and other
countries. In 1993-94, the Conference Board undertook a related study to respond
to many requests for information on how to implement the profile. One of the key
findings of a review of 225 partnerships, projects, and programs was that two
major techniques help achieve the objective of developing students'
employability skills: infusing the skills into existing subject-specific
curriculum, and adding a skills component to career preparation, work experience
courses, or business-education partnership activities.
In an attempt to address the changing skills needed
to be successful in today's workforce, the Conference Board of Canada developed
an Employability Skills Profile, based on input from employers and validated by
a wide range of stakeholders. The Profile has quickly become a benchmark which
educators, counselors, and businesses use to identify the foundational skills
necessary for successful living.
McLaughlin, M. (1992). "Employability Skills
Profile: What Are Employers Looking For?" (Report 81-92-E). Ottawa, ON:
Conference Board of Canada.
Bloom, M. (1994). "Enhancing Employability Skills: Innovative Partnerships,
Projects and Programs" (Report 118-94). Ottawa, ON: Conference Board of Canada.
MaryAnn McLaughlin is the Director of the National Business and Education
Centre, The Conference Board of Canada.
EMPLOYABILITY SKILLS PROFILE: THE CRITICAL SKILLS REQUIRED OF THE CANADIAN WORKFORCE.
Those skills which provide the basic foundation to get, keep, and progress on
a job to achieve the best results.
Canadian employers need a person who can:
Understand and speak the languages in which business is conducted
Listens to understand and learn
Read, comprehend, and use written materials, including graphs, charts, and
Write effectively in the languages in which business is conducted
Think critically and act logically to evaluate situations, solve problems and
Understand and solve problems involving mathematics and use the results
Use technology, instruments, tools, and information systems effectively
Access and apply specialized knowledge from various fields (e.g., skilled
trades, technology, physical sciences, arts, and social sciences)
Continue to learn for life
--Personal Management Skills--
The combination of skills, attitudes, and behaviours required to get, keep,
and progress on a job and to achieve the best results
Canadian employers need a person who can demonstrate:
Attitudes and Behaviors
Self-esteem and confidence
Honesty, integrity and personal ethics
A positive attitude toward learning, growth, and personal health
Initiative, energy, and persistence to get the job done
The ability to set goals and priorities in work and personal life
The ability to plan and manage time, money, and other resources to achieve
Accountability for actions taken
A positive attitude toward change
Recognition of and respect for people's diversity and individual differences
The ability to identify and suggest new ideas to get the job done--creativity
Those skills needed to work with others on a job and to achieve the best
Canadian employers need a person who can:
Understand and contribute to the organization's goals
Understand and work within the culture of the group
Plan and make decisions with others and support the outcomes
Respect the thoughts and opinions of others in the group
Exercise "give and take" to achieve group results
Seek a team approach as appropriate
Lead when appropriate, mobilizing the group for high performance
(This document was developed by the Corporate Council on Education, a program
of the National Business and Education Centre, The Conference Board of Canada.
This profile outlines foundation skills for employability. For individuals and
for schools, preparing for work or employability is one of several goals, all of
which are important for society.)