Monthly Archives: March 2022

Computer Skills for Post Secondary Prep

Core Skills

computer with book shelvesFor anyone entering a post-secondary program, including the skilled trades, it is important to have some core computer skills before starting. 

Gaining computer skills before entering a diploma, certificate or apprenticeship program will mean all in-class time can be focused on learning the content of the program. Trying to learn computer skills at the same time as completing course work can be overwhelming. It can become a barrier to success. Adult training programs can help to remove this barrier.

The computer skills listed below can be used as a checklist. Depending on the program, it may not be necessary to have all of these skills, but these are the most common. Post-secondary programs often provide a list of the computer skills needed. Adult training programs will customize training based on the goals of each individual. 

Contact one of the adult training programs to learn about eligibility and the options for gaining the computer skills needed for success in post-secondary programs. 

Checklist Below:


Hardware you will want to be familiar with:

  • Computer (desktop or laptop)
  • Keyboard and Mouse
  • Printer
  • Modem
  • Smartphones
  • Tablets

Operating Systems

Woman sitting next to a brick wall with a laptopThis is the software that runs your computer – we will focus on the Windows operating system because it is the most common.

  • Turn a computer on
    • This may require you to log on with a password
  • Move around Windows
    • Use the start button to access settings and apps
    • Use the taskbar
    • Open the Recycle Bin
    • Find programs
    • Find and use desktop icons – including shortcuts to programs
    • Run more than one program
    • Close programs
    • Log off
  • Work Safely
    • Download and use virus and malware programs
    • Maintain privacy
    • Understand risks online

File Management

  • Create, move, rename and delete folders and files
  • Understand file extensions, e.g., .pdf (Portable Document Format), .xls (Excel file) and .docx (Word File)
  • Use USB flash drives
  • Use cloud storage – understand the cloud
  • Find documents on a computer
  • Upload a document
  • Scan a document
  • Save a document as a PDF


Word Processing

  • Create and save documents using software such as Microsoft (MS) Word or Google Docs
  • Name and file documents
  • Enter content (typing)
  • Use basic formatting, e.g., bold, underline, capitalization, changing font and font size, cut and paste content and adjusting spacing
  • Use spell check
  • Print files, including previewing and adjusting settings
  • Save and close files
  • Find and open files and make changes to the content and resave


  • Create and save spreadsheets using software such as Microsoft (MS) Excel or Google Sheets
  • Enter content into a worksheet
  • Enter basic formulas
  • Format cells
  • Name worksheets
  • Print worksheets, including previewing and adjusting settings
  • Save and close files
  • Find and open files and make changes to the content and resave


  • Create an email account
  • Use email software e.g., Gmail or Outlook to send and receive email
  • Forward email, e.g., to your phone
  • Type and send messages
  • Manage your email, e.g., respond, forward, save, file and delete email
  • Use calendars
  • Manage safety, e.g., identify email scams
  • Attach a document, file or picture


  • Access the Internet using an Internet Browser such as Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Opera or Edge
  • Search for a website using Google Search and/or Bing
  • Bookmark a site
  • Know how to assess content – is it Canadian?, is it legitimate?
  • Open more than one tab
  • Copy and paste content
  • Understand URLs
  • Refresh a page
  • Manage safety and security
  • Access social media, e.g., Facebook, Twitter, Instagram


Note: you will only need these skills if you are required to make presentations.

  • Create and edit slide presentations
  • Select a theme (the look of the presentation)
  • Add content and images

Online Learning

  • Log into a Learning Management System such as D2L
  • Find and download files
  • Upload assignments
  • Communicate with instructors and other students
  • Participate in real time webinars and meetings using programs such as Zoom
  • person holding tabletComplete online assignments
  • Complete online quizzes
  • Post comments

Phones and Tablets

  • Send a text
  • Download and install apps
  • Access email
  • Search the Internet

On the Job

To learn more about the computer skills needed for the trades, visit the post Computers and the Skilled Trades and Digital Skills in the Skilled Trades.

It is also important to note that in a 2022 survey of employers many said that employees and new hires require digital training. The skills employers are looking for include:

51% said Software/Apps (e.g., Word, Excel, Calendars, Accounting, GPS, Google Docs/Forms).

40% said File Management, Sharing and Collaborating (e.g., Folders, Files, Attachments, Permissions, Dropbox).

30% said Hardware (e.g., Computer/Keyboard, Phone, Scanners, Point-of-Sale).

For the full list of digital literacy needs identified by employers visit page 14 of the 2022 EmployerOne Survey.

To Learn More

For more information about how you can gain these skills for work or ongoing education or training, contact one of the adult training programs in your area or contact Carrie at LOCS – or 705 313-4385.


Apprenticeship and the Skilled Trades

Through the Lens of Literacy and Basic Skills

To address the developing skilled trades crisis, a crisis that has been created by “pending retirements, a current shortage of certified tradespeople and low Apprenticeship completion rates”, communities will need to work together to support those interested in a career in the skilled trades.  This means creating a support system that provides individuals with every opportunity to be successful.  

This report highlights the key role Literacy and Basic Skills (LBS) plays in supporting individuals, as well as the role LBS has in the larger apprenticeship network.  LBS works with community partners, including trainers and employers, to support all parts of the apprenticeship system.  

Supporting Individuals

It is important that communities support people entering the skilled trades from high school and through immigration.  It is also important that we have supports in place for individuals who:

  • have been out of school a while and are reentering the workforce
  • are currently working in other positions, but would like to enter the trades
  • are working in a skilled trade, but are at risk of leaving 
  • have left the trades, but would consider returning
  • are not considering the trades because of barriers (this includes access for underrepresented groups)

As this report highlights, LBS programs play a critical role in supporting the success of individuals in each of these situations.  

This group makes up a significant pool of workers who have the potential to help communities address the skilled trades crisis.  For many, success in the skilled trades will start with support offered by LBS programs. 

LBS Supports

This report outlines the LBS support available, which includes “foundational and advanced math, interpersonal and soft skills, writing, communication, and digital skills”.  Adult training programs also prepare learners for the in-class portion of their Apprenticeship, as well as developing study and test taking skills, which includes preparing to write their Certificate of Qualification (C of Q).  LBS can also help individuals obtain the academic requirements they need to enter the trade they are pursuing (e.g., Grade 12 and ACE).  Literacy and Basic Skills programs support learners “as they work towards achieving the levels of education needed by the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development, employers, and unions.”

This report also highlights something “Literacy and Basic Skills (LBS) practitioners have long recognized that having a high school diploma or equivalent doesn’t necessarily mean that your skills are at a Grade 12 level – and that not having a high school diploma doesn’t mean you are unskilled.”  

LBS can meet the needs of adult learners by offering short-term, targeted programs customized to the needs of their career goal.  LBS programs are flexible, self-paced and teacher supported.  One-to-one tutoring is also available.  Programs are also offered through partnerships with employers and pre-apprenticeship programs.

This research also identified some of the non-academic barriers people face.  Support for this group may include learning about the options in the trades so they can make a decision, finding the resources to help access the apprenticeship system and funding options, as well as developing the skills to manage stress, work, school and life responsibilities.  LBS has a reputation for being able to access their network of community partners, including Employment Services, to find support for learners.  

Going Forward

LBS will continue supporting individual apprentices and highlighting our role as a key partner in strengthening a community wide response to building a path to apprenticeship that is well supported and seamless.

This report was released March 2022.  It was researched and written by Community Literacy Ontario in partnership with Laubach Literacy Ontario (LLO), The Ontario Association of Adult and Continuing Education School Board Administrators (CESBA) and the College Sector Committee for Adult Upgrading (CSC).  Full Report: Apprenticeship and the Skilled Trades