Beyond Rewards Inc.
"Aligning your workplace with your organizational strategies!"

Essential Skills

Beyond Rewards in partnership with Conestoga College’s Essential Skills Workforce Development Office are collaborating to provide authentic workplace tools and resources to assist your organization in determining whether Essential Skills gaps are affecting your organization’s performance. Conestoga is a licensed distributor of a National Credential TOWES, (Test Of Workplace Essential Skills) This assessment will identify which skills require “upskilling” and assist you in creating a learning plan for each of your employees. We will identify programs available through Conestoga College and Beyond Rewards to assist you and your staff in enhancing your abilities and ultimately your organization’s overall performance. Human Resource and Skills Development Canada have developed over 230 occupation classes – available online at:

Workplace Essential Skills (TOWES) uses actual workplace documents to evaluate three out of nine essential skills. TOWES evaluates:

  1. Reading Text: assessing the ability to find and use information contained in text, paragraphs, letters, reports, etc.
  2. Document Use: assessing the ability to find and use information contained in charts, schematics, icons, lists, tables, signs, etc.
  3. Numeracy: assessing the ability to find and use quantitative information like measuring, calculating, scheduling, budgeting, estimating, analyzing data, etc.

Everyone has essential skills! Essential skills are not the technical skill required by a particular occupation, but the skills used in all occupations. They are generic, transferable, enabling skills that help people perform the tasks necessary to succeed in their job. What differs between occupations is the level of skill required and the frequency with which the skill is used. For example, some workers read emails every day while other read long technical reports monthly. Both of these activities are reading tasks, but one is much more difficult than the other.

When an individual writes TOWES the individual will assume the role of a worker who has been asked to perform a workplace task. Each task, or question, will require the individual to use at least one of the three essential skills. Results from the TOWES test will determine skill level in reading text, document use and numeracy.

The Government of Canada has conducted research with thousands of workers across the country to create Essential Skill Profiles. The Essential Skill Profiles outline the skills needed for work in over 200 occupations. Comparison of the TOWES score with the Essential Skill Profiles can be used to:

  1. Determine if the individual has the essential skills needed for various occupations.
  2. Evaluate areas that the individual needs to improve if they would like to work in a particular job.
  3. Highlight the individual’s essential skill competencies with a potential employer.

View the video demo for more information at:

Ontario Skills Passport -