Plain Language Summaries: Literacy Utilization in Canadian Workplaces (2008)

This brief document summarizes a Statistics Canada study that used data from the 1994 International Adult Literacy Survey (IALS) to examine the issue of the under-utilization of literacy skills in the Canadian workplace.

While many studies focus on deficits in the supply of literacy skills, this study explores the possibility that the Canadian labour market may also suffer from a deficit in the demand for skills. The existence of such a deficit would have important implications for policy.

Overall, the study found that for about 75 percent of the Canadian work force, there was a reasonable fit between workers’ literacy skills and the job skill requirements. However, the authors point out that there are still many workers with low skills fitting into low skilled jobs, and medium skilled workers employed in medium skill positions. The fact that the majority of workers have skills that match the requirements of their jobs is not comforting, they conclude, because having low skilled workers in low skilled jobs does not make the economy competitive.

The study suggests that if Canada wants to attract high skilled jobs, it must compete for them, but Canada’s competitive ability is limited because of the low literacy skills of a significant proportion of the Canadian adult population.

The summary is part of a National Adult Literacy Database (NALD) project, funded by the Canadian Council on Learning (CCL), that provides quick summaries of research documents from Statistics Canada.

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APA citation
James E. Page. Plain Language Summaries: Literacy Utilization in Canadian Workplaces 2008. Web. 25 Jun. 2022 <>
James E. Page (2008). Plain Language Summaries: Literacy Utilization in Canadian Workplaces. Retrieved June 25, 2022, from
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