Based on the BC Labour Market Outlook for 2018 it is projected that 73% of job openings will require candidates to have strong people skills, especially those in communication areas such as active listening, speaking and reading comprehension[1].  These three skills are defined as essential skills by the Government of Canada.  “Essential skills profiles describe how workers in an occupation use each of the nine essential skills: reading, document use, writing, numeracy, oral communication, thinking, digital technology, working with others and continuous learning.

These nine essential skills are seen as “building blocks” because people build on them to learn all other skills. They are needed for work, learning and life, and allow people to grow with their jobs and adapt to changes in the workplace. The essential skills profiles describe the skills workers need, as well as the level of difficulty required to perform their jobs successfully[2]”.

2028 might seem far away but it’s just around the corner. The following tips will help improve your abilities in these three essential areas.

Active Listening:

  • Be fully in the moment
    • When listening pay attention not only to the words but the tone of voice, facial expressions, and body language
  • Put yourself in their shoes
    • People will appreciate that you made the effort to understand and really hear them
  • Pick up key points and let the speaker know you did
    • After they finish talking, let them know that you heard them by mentioning the key points you heard them say and ask them to clarify anything that you did not understand
  • Practice
    • Most people are thinking of how they are going to reply when someone is talking. Instead of doing that, try to focus completely on what the person is saying.
  • Develop curiosity, an open mind, and a desire for continuous growth
    • Be open to the idea that your way of seeing things may not be the only, or necessarily the best, way and don’t feel the need to always defend your own point of view or way of seeing the world.


  • Take your time while speaking
    • Control your breath
  • Don’t rush
    • Talk deliberately, but not so slow that you sound like a robot.
  • Improving your diction
    • Try tongue twisters
    • Read aloud
    • Pay attention to tone
  • Exercise your muscles
    • Practice jaw exercises to enhance clarity of speech
    • Watch your posture
  • Stay hydrated


  • Eliminate distractions from your environment
    • Read in a space where you will be to concentrate
  • Read with a helper if you’re reading something above your level
    • Whether that helper is a teacher, a friend, or a parent, read with someone above your level who you’re comfortable talking to and asking questions
  • Read aloud
    • Reading aloud is a great way to slow down while reading and give you more time to process what you’re reading, thereby improving comprehension.
  • Start with books at or below your level
    • Your ideal reading level should be one that is comfortable but also slightly challenging. Instead of starting with books that are very difficult, read books you’re comfortable with first and develop a baseline of reading comprehension to build off
  • Read books over and over again to gain fluency.
    • Fluency is the ability to read and understand words automatically and at a certain speed.

For most of the population these skills come easy to us and we have already mastered them.  Now imagine a world where you struggle day to day with simple tasks let alone finding and maintaining employment. For those masters look around to see if you know someone struggling with these skills and become their mentor to help increase their ability and confidence.



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