Test of Workplace Essential Skills: TOWES


TOWES assessments and learning materials help users identify and develop literacy and essential skills (reading text, document use, and numeracy) for career growth and alignment.

What This Includes

Skills addressed: Goal Setting, Decision Making, Oral Communication, Working with Others, Thinking Skills, Digital Technology, Continuous Learning


  • Literacy and essential skills assessments in multiple versions: general; sector-based; domain-specific; and customized to a business, occupation or training program
  • Online and paper versions available
  • Oral fluency assessment
  • Measure Up section includes free embedded resource and informal essential skills test by skill and level of difficulty to match users with an occupation, a practice area, and career exploration
  • Free self-assessment workbooks for three industries: construction, tourism, and trucking


  • Test-taker services with free practice questions, preparation videos, and two guides
  • Free open educational resources, including Essential Skills for TOWES, with two modules available
  • TOWES suite of individualized workbooks and guides for specific industry sectors, e.g., training models (such as pre-apprenticeship), populations (English Language Learners or tribal members), and other workplace topics (such as hazardous materials)
  • Instructor guidance and professional development
  • Measure Up Resources offer instructors materials, ideas, and tips for using the free How Do Your Skills Measure Up resource
  • Professional development workshops on adult literacy and essential skills
  •  Administrator training to become a certified TOWES administrator or lead trainer

Key Takeaways

  • The TOWES suite of learner materials and instructional resources builds social and emotional skills for personal and workplace success as users solve real problems and complete tasks using authentic workplace documents and situations.
  • Users can get a personalized profile of their specific skills and ability levels for use in a career search, for workforce development, or for instructional recommendations.
  • Measure Up gives learners and job-seekers independent, free access to online essential skills practice and career exploration tools.
  • Adult education instructors and English language learners can use Building Workplace Essential Skills, which is designed for beginners and geared to New Canadians or those new to the workforce.
  • The site links to essential skills profiles by occupation, a section of the Job Bank, Canada CA website.

SkillPlan (British Columbia Construction Industry Skills Improvement Council) and Bow Valley College created TOWES to respond to the need for a literacy and essential skills assessment that would compare workers’ skills to job requirements as described in the Essential Skills Profiles and the Government of Canada’s National Occupational Classifications, which is linked to more than 300 frontline occupations. TOWES assessments are reliably linked to the IALS (International Adult Literacy Survey) skills framework.

Adaptability & Flexibility


Critical & Creative Thinking

Digital Literacy

Leadership & Initiative

Navigating & Using Information


Teamwork & Collaboration

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