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Explore Education & Training

Begin Building the Skills Employers Want

You can train to get career skills that employers want while you’re still in high school. Give it a try to prove you can do the job before they hire you.

To get a sense of the skills that employers want for different roles, check out the Skills and Abilities section of the occupations that interest you. You’ll find, for example, that editors need excellent writing and interviewing skills.

You already have a number of skills and talents. Before you even begin to think about developing new ones, take a look at yourself and consider the skills you have already.

Identifying your skills is not boasting. It’s simply looking into the mirror and getting to know yourself.

You may want to keep track of the skills you already have on a master resumé. As you develop more skills, you can add them to your inventory.

High school is a great place to practise or develop work skills that employers want. For example, you might build skills in:

  • Time management by juggling schoolwork with sports, clubs, and a part-time job
  • Teamwork by playing sports or participating in school clubs
  • Leadership by leading school clubs or captaining a sports team
  • Language by studying a second language
  • Organization by helping to organize school events
  • Public speaking by participating in a debate or drama club
  • Fundraising by joining a charitable club

These are just a few examples of skills that you can transfer from school to work.

You can also gain skills in high school that are more technical. For example, you might take classes in computers, cooking, woodworking, or art. If you have worked on the yearbook, you may have skills in writing, photography, or graphic design.

Identifying your skills is not boasting. It’s simply looking into the mirror and getting to know yourself.

Build skills from your hobbies or interests

Still think you lack skills? Your hobbies and interests are another great way to practise or develop work skills that employers want. For example, you might build skills by:

  • Communicating on social media
  • Building content within a video game
  • Writing lyrics for your friend’s band
  • Investing some of your earnings in the stock market
  • Being part of an organization in your community
  • Helping your uncle repair his car
  • Taking up a sport

Think ahead to post-secondary school

A post-secondary program is a great way to acquire job-specific skills. Many occupations, from teacher to welder to physician, require post-secondary education. Most others require at least a high school diploma. Some employers are willing to train the people they hire.

What kind of education you might want to pursue depends on your career interests. There are 4 general types of education:

  • Universities offer degrees in various academic programs and professions. A university degree is required for many professional roles across different sectors.
  • Colleges offer certificates, diplomas, academic upgrading, applied degree programs, and moretend to be more directly career-oriented than universities. This means they offer practical or hands-on training. Generally, a certificate program is 1 year or less, and a diploma program is 2 or 3 years
  • Technical institutes offer continuing education courses, certificates, diplomas, applied degrees, bachelor’s degrees, apprenticeships, and more. Their programs are often related to trades or technical work.
  • Apprenticeships combine classroom teaching and on-the-job training. In Alberta, more than 50 trades have apprenticeship training programs. For example, you can apprentice as a cook, hairstylist, electrician, or machinist.

It is important to consider what kind of proof of formal training an employer may want from you. A certificate, degree, or trade ticket can prove you have the knowledge and technical skills for the work you want to do. Learn more about Post-Secondary Credential Types.

Acquire skills from your summer, part-time, or future job

Some employers offer on-the-job training, even for summer or part-time jobs. If you take workshops, programs, or courses, remember their titles and keep any certificates you earn. For example, your employer might send you to a 1-day course on personal safety. Record the name of the course and the date you took it. You can add it to your resumé. It could help you land a future job.

If your employer offers little or no training, you can train yourself:

  • Develop your own orientation. Find out what practices, such as working safely, you should be aware of. Ask your supervisor or co-workers for advice and directions.
  • Learn from co-workers. Watch how they work and ask them questions.
  • Develop skills by going beyond the scope of your job. For example, if you offer a customer shoes to go with the outfit they try on, will it increase the chance of a sale?
  • Find a mentor or coach. Look for someone who can help you understand your role and give you useful feedback.
  • Research. Read online about the organization or industry.

Prove you have the skills

Acquiring new skills is one thing. Proving you have them is another. Do not hesitate to list school clubs, sports, and activities on your resumé or job applications. Many employers recognize that high school students can get valuable skills this way.

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