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Welcome to UPskill.ca

UPskill is a social venture initiative, established by ABC Life Literacy Canada in 2014.

UPskill is committed to ensuring Canadians gain the essential skills they need for workplace success. Research shows that strong essential skills have a positive impact on employees’ job performance, job retention, health and wellbeing. It also has a positive impact on business including increased cost savings, customer satisfaction, productivity gains, and increased revenue.

Because of the enormous potential for improved lives and livelihoods for Canadians and potential for positive economic impact for Canada, UPskill is working with partners from business, unions, governments, and communities throughout the country to promote a culture of workplace learning that includes essential skills.

Why is workplace essential skills training important?

Canada has a skills issue that needs immediate attention: more than 40% of Canadians do not have sufficient essential skill levels to manage the demands of 21st century jobs, and Canada is falling further and further behind international counterparts in upskilling to succeed at work.

What is UPskill’s role?

UPskill is developing key measures to advance the workplace skills of Canadians, and to inspire commitment to integrating literacy and essential skills training into the learning culture of more workplaces.

Training: UPskill will increase Canadians’ access to literacy and essential skills training and provide business with tools and resources to support their uptake of literacy and essential skills training.

Trainers: UPskill will provide an avenue for literacy and essential skills practitioners to gain
 new knowledge, continually improve literacy and essential skills practices, and to lead and advance excellence in the sector.

National Network: UPskill will create a network for thought-leaders and influencers to convene to inform and transform literacy and essential skills policy.

Workplace Commitment: UPskill will recognize employer commitment to workplace training, and support ongoing commitment to essential skills learning practices.

WLES = Workplace Literacy and Essential Skills

The nine essential skills, used by employees in every job are:

Reading Text

Workplace examples: reports, emails, instructions, manuals, plans.


Workplace examples: emails, reports, forms, billing, task evaluations.


Workplace examples: scheduling, budgeting, measurements, data, numerical estimating, money math.

Document Use

Workplace examples: signs, labels, lists, graphs, charts, tables, blueprints, schematics, drawings.

Oral Communication

Workplace examples: greeting people, taking messages, reassuring, persuading, seeking information, resolving conflicts.

Working with Others

Workplace examples: cooperation, collaboration, listening, teamwork.

Computer Use

Workplace examples: cash registers, word processing software, emails, spreadsheets, operating systems.

Thinking Skills

Workplace examples: problem-solve, make decisions, think critically, plan, organize tasks.

Continuous Learning

Acquiring new skills and knowledge to adapt and succeed in the changing workplace.

UPskill is a social enterprise of ABC Life Literacy Canada, a registered Canadian charity. UPskill embodies ABC’s effort to move a socially minded workplace solution from small to large-scale impact. UPskill was built using primarily ABC’s investment, with the addition of some corporate funding. All proceeds from the UPskill initiative are reinvested in ABC to support its projects and programs. In this way, by applying a business framework to a social good, ABC has created an innovative enterprise in an underserved space, committed to ensuring Canadians build literacy skills through workplace training.

Founding Sponsor:


Founding Partners: