The Importance of Literacy and Soft Skills in the Trades

Think you know what employers are looking for when hiring on in the trades? 

It’s not just knowing how to use the tools and do the job, known as hard skills. They also want workers with soft skills: stuff like knowing how to work things out on your own, and how to communicate.  Soft skills help you get your work done, and help you get along with customers and co-workers. And employers want you to have those skills just as much as knowing your trade.  

Skilled trades are way more important part of Canada’s workforce than a lot of people know. About one in six Canadians work in the skilled trades. 

Small Private companies in Canada are hiring trades workers more than any other group.

Having soft and hard skills can help you get those jobs! 

Hard Skills vs Soft Skills

Hard skills are learned through training, school, or work experience. Things like how to use the tools and how materials work.

You learn these skills by getting training in trade schools or on the job. For example, learning the math skills needed to be a carpenter. Having the hard skills needed in your trades job is the first step.

Soft skills are the skills you need to work well with others. You usually learn them from your life experiences and develop them more while working on the job. 

Some examples of soft skills include:

  • Problem-solving
  • Thinking
  • Social skills 
  • Communication skills such as:
    • Reading
    • Writing
    • Speaking
    • Dealing with customers  
    • Using technology  

Employers Want Employees with Hard and Soft Skills

Employers need trades workers with mad skills to do their jobs, but also soft skills like reading and using tablets.  But every trade team of 10 will have 3 or more workers with reading or digital challenges. 

A recent study from the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT) called “Impact of Certification on Trades Skills in British Columbia,” talked about how employers in the trades are finding that “apprentices are lacking many of the soft skills that they believe matter most.” 

These soft skills include basic writing, reading, digital literacy along with having an education in their trade. 

The study also found that workers who do the best in their trades, also do well in communication, thinking and problem solving. 

This means that employers can use how good soft skills are, to say how well a worker will do on the job. Time to brush up on the soft skills! 

Trades Workers Need More Than the Hard Skills Of Their Own Trade

With more and more technology being used in every trade, workers can’t avoid using computers in some way. Tablets and smart phone are tool you might have to use. And the need for soft skills like computer literacy will only increase for skilled trades workers. 

The Government of Canada says these are the top 9 essential skills for trades:  

  • Reading
  • Basic Document use
  • Numeracy (math)
  • Writing (typing)
  • Oral communication
  • Work well with others
  • Thinking 
  • Computer Use
  • Learning new things

All of the 9 skills above are important for a tradesperson to have an easier time finding and keeping a job. 

Did you know that about 40% of all jobs will be in the skilled trades by the year 2025?

But with trade workers falling behind in reading, math, and digital literacy, it’s easy to see why this is a threat to the economy. Without the skills needed to do their jobs, a big part of Canada’s workforce will be affected. 

Even though adults may feel embarrassed about struggling with literacy, there is nothing to be ashamed of. You can learn these skills and there are resources to help that support adult learners. One thing we all know as trades people is to ask for help when you need it!

Soft and Hard Skills Are Needed In All Areas Of Life 

It’s not only at work that you use soft skills. It’s in every area of your life. Every day, you use soft skills such as reading, writing, and doing math, and talking to people. 

With such a growing need for hard and soft skills, it’s getting a lot harder for those who already struggle.

As tradespeople become even more important to the economy, they need help to gain the literacy skills needed to succeed in their jobs. We can’t afford to lose highly skilled and in demand skilled trades workers due to a lack of literacy skills!  

Accessible Software For All Of Your Workers

Tradesflow helps trades teams and businesses experiencing literacy and tech challenges, to make a lot more money and keep talent using a simple, intuitive online software. Tradesflow’s field management software is built for every member of a trades team. 

Resources for adults struggling with literacy: