New Study Maps the Digital Skills Canadian Workers Need to Succeed | Burning Glass Technologies

Canadians need a range of digital and human skills to succeed in today’s job market—and some of the most valuable digital skills are among the most basic, such as spreadsheets, according to new research using Burning Glass Technologies data.  

The study by the Brookfield Institute for Innovation + Entrepreneurship provides more evidence that the trend toward hybrid jobs, roles mixing skill sets that formerly did not go together, is a global one. Burning Glass data has shown the power of combining digital and human skills in the United States and the United Kingdom. 

The Brookfield study examined 7 million job postings collected by Burning Glass in Canada from 2012 to 2018. Brookfield created a classification of more than 13,000 skills and rated them on their “digital intensity,” or how important these digital skills are to the role. (For more on digital intensity, have a look at earlier Burning Glass reports on digital skills).  

Key findings from I, Human: The digital and soft skills driving Canada’s labour market: 


  • Canadians across the economy require a suite of digital and non-digital skills. Despite growing attention on the importance of learning to code, demand is highest for the least digitally intensive skills, such as proficiency in Microsoft Excel.  
  • Data skills are important across a variety of jobs that range in digital intensity, reflecting the importance of data in Canada’s economy. They can also support transitions between jobs. Microsoft Excel and SQL (a database querying software), for example, are frequently requested alongside one another. For an individual proficient in Excel, learning SQL might open up opportunities to move into more digitally intensive jobs.  
  • The most digitally-intensive roles also place the highest emphasis on non-digital skills—notably, teamwork, communication, judgment, and problem-solving skills. 
  • Creative jobs, from advertising to video game design, are particularly notable for requiring a combination of both design-oriented digital skills (for example, those required to work with tools such as Adobe Photoshop and CSS) and non-digital communications, marketing, and design skills. 

The most requested digital skills in Canada include: 

SkillDescriptionNumber of mentionsDigital Intensity Classification
Microsoft ExcelSpreadsheet software741,191Low
Microsoft OfficeWork productivity software suite621,690Low
Microsoft WordDocument composing software296,992Low
Microsoft PowerPointPresentation creation software266,748Low
SQLDatabase management software163,000High
SpreadsheetsData organization151,719Low
Software DevelopmentGeneral skill133,681High
Technical SupportGeneral skill130,540Medium
SAPBusiness enterprise software126,787Medium
JavaProgramming language112,680High