The Case for Government Investment in Essential Skills

Canadians want more jobs, to earn more without working more, to be healthier and to have access to the Canada’s rate of productivity growth is below the level needed to drive improvement in our standard of living and to maintain our competitiveness on global markets.

Achieving higher rates of productivity depends on increasing both our level of technical skill and knowledge and our levels of key cognitive skills – language, literacy and numeracy – needed to apply technical skills and knowledge to globally competitive levels. It also requires that employers create jobs that require workers to use their knowledge and skills rich.

Read more in our paper The Case for Government Investment in Essential Skills.

The underlying policy analysis was undertaken by DataAngel Policy Research.

Related documentation: 12 Questions to Highlight the Importance of Government Action on Essential Skills
Related documentation: The Business Case for Investment in Essential Skills in Numbers
Related report: Smarten Up – It’s Time to Build Essential Skills

You can download pdfs of all our documents here: DataAngel | Resources

Level 3 as a Minimum National Literacy Standard

The initial publication of literacy results from the 2011 OECD PIAAC international adult skills assessment abandoned the Level 3 proficiency standard that had been applied in reporting the results of 1987 LSUDA study, the 1994, 1996 and 1998 IALS studies and the 2003 IALSS study. The reason cited by a senior OECD official for the change was quite astounding “Level 3 is too demanding for the Italians, as 70% of their adult population fall below this threshold and that makes them feel bad.” Based on a careful analysis of the impact of skill level on individual, institutional and national success, I believe that there a strong reasons for Canada to maintain Level 3 literacy as a national standard, one that is needed to assure that we can continue to meet our collective social and economic goals.

Key elements of the evidence that supports Level 3 are presented in our paper Level 3 as a Minimum National Literacy Standard.

The underlying policy analysis was undertaken by DataAngel Policy Research.

You can download pdfs of all our documents here: DataAngel | Resources

Average Hourly Wage (2010$) by Essential Skill Level of Occupation 1997-2015

Average Hourly Wage (2010$) by Essential Skill Level of Occupation 1997-2015

This chart links rising wage inequality to shifts in the relative wages earned by the literacy level demanded by the job.

Workers in jobs that demand low levels of literacy have experienced no real wage growth over the past decade.

Workers in jobs that demand high literacy levels have enjoyed very attractive real wage gains.

This difference explains most of the increase in wage and income inequality observed in Canada over the period.


Underlying research and analysis was undertaken by DataAngel Policy Research

To download a pdf of this chart, click here: Average Hourly Wage (2010$) by Essential Skill Level of Occupation 1997-2015

Top 10 TED Talks That Could Change Your Life

There’s no time like the present to grow or refine ourselves a little bit more, and few resources are as helpful as TED talks. In that vein, here are the top 10 TED Talks featured on Lifehacker.

10. Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are

Change your posture, change your life. Amy Cuddy explains how even faking powerful body language can reduce stress and make you more confident. Adopting a power pose is such a small thing but could make all the difference when you’re in a high-stress situation like a job interview or negotiating a raise.

9. The Power of Vulnerability

We all feel vulnerable and fearful of uncertainty at times, but these situations can be powerful paths to growth. Dr. Brene Brown’s research on human connection finds that happier people tend to accept the unknown and also that being vulnerable made them feel better and beautiful.

8. The Mathematics of Love

Still looking for that special someone? Mathematician Hannah Fry dishes up several math-based tips to find the perfect partner, including not using the perfect online dating photo.

7. Why We All Need to Practice Emotional First Aid

Psychologist Guy Winch argues in his TED talk that too many of us don’t care for our emotional and mental health with the same diligence that we take care of our bodies (and things like brushing our teeth). Loneliness, guilt, and other psychological “injuries” could be even more dangerous than physical traumas. Try to think of emotional wounds as you would physical ones.

6. I Am the Son of a Terrorist. Here’s How I Chose Peace.

“It takes a lot of energy to hold hate inside you.” That’s the message from Zak Ebrahim’s moving TED talk, his story of choosing a different path than the violence and bigotry he was raised in. Though his story is about a very specific subject of terrorism and bullying, Ebrahim shares a few important lessons: You can use your experience to develop better empathy, actually getting to know people of different walks of life will expand your own life, and whatever your environment or family’s ideology, you are not them.

5. How to Speak So That People Want to Listen

Everybody wants to be heard when they speak—not just heard, but listened to. Part of it is we could all use to become better listeners, but another part of it is changing how we communicate with others. Sound consultant Julian Treasure offers the HAIL method of talking to others so they’ll trust what you say and pay attention: Honesty, Authenticity, Integrity, and Love.

4. How to Make Hard Choices

You can’t go through life without making difficult decisions. Philosopher Ruth Change helps us make life-changing decisions by looking within yourself — it’s an opportunity to decide who you want to be.

3. Why We Do What We Do

What motivates you and makes you do the things that you do? What drives you today? Tony Robbins says that “emotions are the invisible force of internal drive.” We all have great minds and think intellectually, but it’s our emotions that makes the difference in the quality of our lives. Fulfillment, Robbins says, is an art and it’s all about appreciation and contribution. (Watch it at least 5:30-5:40 for the Al Gore high-five.)

2. You Can Grow New Brain Cells. Here’s How.

Who doesn’t want more active brain cells? Neurocscientist Sanrine Thuret points out three things you can do to grow new brain cells through neurogenesis: Learning, sex, and running. Sounds good to us.

1. My Stroke of Insight

Brain researcher Jill Bolte Taylor’s description of how the brain works and her experience after having a massive stroke is one of the most emotional TED talks you could watch. It’s about self-awareness, a near-death experience, and, most importantly, that we are all energy beings connected to the energy all around us — including each other. Whether or not you appreciate the spiritual undertones, Dr. Taylor’s note that “we have the power to choose, moment by moment, who and how we want to be in the world” is powerful advice.

Via Lifehacker: Top 10 TED Talks That Could Change Your Life