Essential Skills. for Entrepreneurs. Instructor s Overview

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1 Essential Skills for Entrepreneurs

2 Workplace Education Manitoba, 2009 All rights reserved; no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise without either the prior written permission of the Publishers. This manual may not be lent, resold, hired out or otherwise disposed of by way of trade in any form binding or cover that that in which it is published, without the prior consent of the Publishers.

3 Overview The Essential Skills for Entrepreneurs workbook series is part of Workplace Education Manitoba s larger initiative to bring an Essential Skills lens to the development and delivery of supports, resources, and training for entrepreneurs. In a study of Canadians asked to name their choice of the most rewarding career path, their overwhelming choice was entrepreneurship. Another study noted that one in three young Canadians have named entrepreneurship as the most desirable profession. Here in Manitoba, the significance of entrepreneurship is found in the fact that 97 per cent of businesses in the province have less than 50 employees, and more than half of Manitoba s business establishments have no employees. Essential Skills are the skills needed to be successful at work. However, entrepreneurial program instructors report that some of their learners do not have the necessary levels of Essential Skills required to achieve that success. As well, there are untold numbers of individuals who are unable to meet a training program s entrance requirements due to low levels of Essential Skills. This workbook series targets and supports the need of the individual in an entrepreneurial training program who is struggling with Essential Skills levels. Equally important, it provides support for instructors seeking to infuse Essential Skills throughout their curriculum. Finally, this series also supports the needs of those individuals who previously would have either failed to meet the entrance requirements for a training program, or who would have self-disqualified themselves from even applying because of inadequate Essential Skills. 1

4 Essential Skills: What Are They? A survey of employers across Canada found that there are nine skills that are essential to success in today s workplace, and which provide the cornerstone for lifelong learning. The 9 Essential Skills are: Technical Reading Document use Writing Numeracy Oral communication Thinking skills Working with others Computer use Continuous learning Essential Skills: Why Are They Important? People use Essential Skills in different ways in different workplaces. However, all of the Essential Skills are used in some way in every workplace. Here are a few examples of the way Essential Skills might be used in your work as an entrepreneur: reading and interpreting legal documents such as contracts, agreements, and tax forms filling out and keeping track of the paperwork required for running a business getting financial information from charts, tables, and graphs, as well as interpreting financial statements communicating and selling ideas to others initiating contact with others, networking, and making small talk questioning and interacting with customers resolving conflicts negotiating contracts with suppliers and customers preparing a Marketing Plan writing messages, letters, and short reports developing and monitoring budgets analyzing the pros and cons of a plan creating and monitoring schedules, and making adjustments if necessary evaluating the quality of advertising and making good judgments about design, layout, colour, logos, etc. using problem-solving strategies to constructively resolve problems, issues, and concerns using a decision-making process to make sound business decisions researching, gathering information, and monitoring trends making efficient use of time organizing and prioritizing work tasks dealing with interruptions and resolving tasks that go off-track responding to situations that arise unexpectedly remembering the names, faces, and voices of customers and their history as part of providing good customer service taking a leadership role and communicating priorities organizing and directing the work of others taking advantage of learning opportunities using computer technologies and software programs 2

5 Essential Skills: What Can I Do? What can you do? You can infuse Essential Skills content throughout your entrepreneurial training program. Imagine a clear glass of water. Then imagine letting a droplet of bright blue food colouring fall onto the surface of that water. Immediately, bluish strands of colour begin to spread out and down from the center. Still intense at the center of each strand, the colour begins to mix near the edges and the two are no longer separate. Eventually, the dye and water will completely blend so that you can no longer distinguish between the two of them. They are inseparable. What does it mean to infuse? This is infusion. How then do you infuse Essential Skills content throughout your entrepreneurial training program? View everything through an Essential Skills lens. Use Essential Skills language. Make learning opportunities relevant, meaningful, and authentic to the learner and to the workplace. Follow a learner-centered and performance-based methodology. Provide authentic and relevant workplace skills rehearsal, and then practise them often. Take an assets-based approach relating and normalizing new learning to previous experiences and prior learning. Focus on skill building. Debrief learning activities talk about thinking strategies by making visible the similarities in processes to complete a variety of tasks. Highlight transfer opportunities and strategies. Remind people that the Essential Skills are the transferable skills that we already use all day long. These workbooks are a starting point. 3

6 The Essential Skills for Entrepreneurs workbooks are designed as an Essential Skills support for learners in entrepreneurial training programs. Their contents are designed to be infused into existing training. By taking a holistic approach viewing everything through an Essential Skills lens programs will be enhanced to better meet the needs of the learners. Implicit in these materials is that the spotlight is focused on the learners and what they need to do to be successful as an entrepreneur what they need to work on and practise in order to have all of the Essential Skills an entrepreneur requires. Always remember that the most valuable learning experiences are current, authentic, and relevant. You can do more to enhance Essential Skills content in your entrepreneurial training program: Make Essential Skills language part of your program (see the HRSDC Essential Skills website). Anticipate where learners might need help and build in supports. Make it easy for learners to identify and communicate where they would like additional help. Develop your own Essential Skills Materials when needed Customize existing materials. Provide additional practise until the learner is confident he/she has mastered the skill. Build the concept of transfer of learning into each lesson. Make explicit how these skills are used every day in their work as entrepreneurs. Use an assets-based approach to remind your learners that what may have once been a gap can soon become a strength. On the following page is a lesson plan template for infusing Essential Skills into training. 4

7 Infusing Essential Skills into an Entrepreneurial Training Essential Skills for Entrepreneurs Lesson Theme / Learning Activity: Lesson Template Rationale: Supporting Essential Skills: (Learners will be able to ) Authentic Practise Opportunities: (Entrepreneur task/document examples) Transfer of Learning Strategy: 5

8 Essential Skills for Entrepreneurs Workbook Series The Essential Skills for Entrepreneurs workbook series focuses on four Essential Skills: Oral Communication, Thinking Skills, Document Use, and Writing Skills. The Table of Contents for each workbook is an outline. It identifies the main sections found in each book. Oral Communication Parts of Effective Communication Using Your Communication Skills Thinking Skills Job Task Planning and Organizing Decision Making Problem Solving Document Use Document Navigation Writing on Documents Putting it All Together Writing Skills Use Clear Language Persuasive Writing s Letters #1 TRY this Each time a new skill is introduced, there is an opportunity to practise it by doing the activity that follows. Activities are introduced by the words TRY this. After the activity is completed, answers can be found in the Answer Key at the end of each unit. 6

9 Facilitating Understanding of Essential Skills: The Basics Essential Skills for Entrepreneurs The simplest way to get learners to start thinking about Essential Skills is to deliver three key messages: Essential Skills: What Are They? Essential Skills: Why Should I Care? Essential Skills: What Can I Do? The following three learner handouts are examples of each of these messages. The first example is a chart with the 9 Essentials Skills and their definitions. The second is an Essential Skills snapshot for entrepreneurs. A snapshot is a brief overview of the workplace Essential Skills most entrepreneurs need in order to be successful. It is only intended to get learners thinking about which workplace Essential Skills they may use most, and which ones they may want to learn more about. The last is an Essential Skills Action Plan. It gives learners a framework for assessing their Essential Skills strengths and gaps, identifying the supports needed to fill the gaps and then creating their personal action plan. 7

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11 Essential Skills for Entrepreneurs WORKPLACE!""!#$%&'(")%''" Essential Skills For Entrepreneurs I Can I Need I Need Do This Help to Training Do This Reading Text I can read and understand directions on funding applications forms I am comfortable reading and interpreting legal documents like contracts, leasing agreements and tax forms I can get the information I need from industry publications to stay on top of market trends Document Use I am comfortable filling out the forms required to register my business and for business licences and permits I can fill out and keep track of the daily paperwork required to run my business I can find and use the information I need in tables, graphs and spreadsheets I can interpret drawings such as floor plans and assembly drawings Oral Communication I can communicate and sell my ideas I feel comfortable making small talk, networking and initiating contact with others I am comfortable with interacting with customers to provide good customer service I can resolve conflict with others I am comfortable negotiating contracts with suppliers and customers I am confident when explaining my needs to people like lawyers, accountants, business advisors, investors, suppliers, lenders, etc. Writing I can fill in information on forms I have all the writing skills I need to prepare a high-quality business plan I can write , letters and reports that clearly and confidently communicate my message Numeracy I have all the math skills I need to develop and monitor a budget and cash flow I have great confidence in my money management skills I can reconcile a bank statement I can set up and monitor a system for tracking inventory I can easily create, monitor and adjust production and delivery schedules I am able to do estimations such as square footage requirements for office space For more information about Workplace Essential Skills, visit Copyright

12 Essential Skills for Entrepreneurs I Can I Need I Need Do This Help to Training Do This Numeracy I have all the math skills I need to develop and monitor a budget and cash flow I have great confidence in my money management skills I can reconcile a bank statement I can set up and monitor a system for tracking inventory I can easily create, monitor and adjust production and delivery schedules I am able to do estimations such as square footage requirements for office space Thinking Skills Critical Thinking I am able to think logically through situations that need my attention I feel comfortable analyzing the pros and cons of business ideas and plans I can evaluate the quality of and make good judgments about my advertising Thinking Skills Problem-solving I am comfortable using problem-solving strategies to resolve day-to-day issues and concerns I am comfortable dealing with customer s complaints I am comfortable resolving issues with employees Thinking Skills Decision Making I am confident with the decision-making process I use to make business decisions Thinking Skills Finding Information I am comfortable seeking out people who can help me with the questions I have I can research, gather information and monitor trends to make sound business decisions I can do the research needed to develop a customer profile for a marketing strategy Thinking Skills Job Task Planning and Organizing I feel in control of the way I use my time I can deal with interruptions and feel comfortable resolving tasks that go off-track or responding to situations that unexpectedly arise I make effective use of time-management and organization strategies and techniques Thinking Skills Significant Use of Memory I can remember names, faces and voices of customers and their history with me as part of providing good customer service I can recall product information to provide information to customers Working with Others I feel comfortable managing the work of others I feel confident collaborating with others to achieve a goal I am comfortable taking a leadership role and communicating my priorities and organizing and directing the work of others I am comfortable building effective working relationships Continuous Learning I look for and take advantage of learning opportunities I am comfortable seeking out mentors for advice and support Computer Use I am comfortable using new computer technologies and software programs I have the computer skills to create and maintain electronically-stored documents I am confident that I have the computer skills I need to communicate electronically with others For more information about Workplace Essential Skills, visit Copyright

13 My Essential Skills Action Plan Step One I can: Identify events or activities in my life where I have learned skills that I will use as an entrepreneur: What skills have I learned from school, paid or unpaid work, hobbies, sports, volunteer work, etc? Would an entrepreneur use these skills? How? Step Two I can: Take stock of my Essential Skills: I know I can I am Step Three I can: Visualize my future as an entrepreneur and the learning goals that will help me get there. Step Four I can: Identify my Essential Skills gaps and the supports I need: What Essential Skills do I need to work on? How do I get the help I need? Step Five I can: Create an action plan for reaching my goals: What do I need to do to get from where I am to where I want to be? (Specifically) Step Six I can: Do it! 11

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