Getting All Specialist Skills
In Colonization, your economy -- and consequently your military -- depends on production in your colonies. Efficient production requires sufficient raw materials, and so getting the Master Planting and Expert Fur Trapping skills is extremely important. Some skills are NOT taught by the natives, those are: Lumberjack, Blacksmith, Distiller, Tobacconist, Statesmen, Preacher, Gunsmiths. Get those from Europe. They DO teach: Farmer, Fisherman, Ore Miner, Fur Trader, Weaver, Scouts, Silver Miner, and most importantly, they are the only ones who teach: Tobacco Planter, Sugar Planter, Cotton Planter, and Fur Trapper. It is possible to aquire all skills in Europe, execpt from these last four, and so this article adresses how to attain those important skills. There are basically two ways to do this:
1. "Learning by doing"
2. Learning from the Natives.
1. "Learning by doing" has its flaws - it is highly uncertain WHEN and IF you will learn any skills at all. But here is how you do it: Place a Free Colonist on a field gathering fur, sugar, cotton or tobacco. There is an increased chance to discover the skill if there is a prime resource in that field (for example prime tobacco if you are trying to learn the Tobacco Planter Skill) and if the field is plowed. But even when plowed and with a prime resource, you never know if you will attain that skill. Sometimes you get it right away, sometimes it can take 100+ turns. And here's another disadvantage: If you are trying to attain a skill, you can't educate colonists in that city, because the colonist who is trying to become a specialist planter/trapper may suddenly attain the skill your Teacher is teaching, and you will have to start all over again with a new Free Colonist. Learning from the natives is therefore the preferred option, but if a certain skill can't be found in any native village the "learning by doing" strategy is your only option.
2. Learning from the natives: Since both Free Colonists and Indentured Servants can learn skills from the natives, use your Indentured Servants first (Free Colonists are more effective and can be educated faster). Send your scouts to find out which villages teach what. Make a small map on a piece of paper and write down what each village teaches so you remember it later. Note that you don't have to wait for a Seasoned Scout -- if you equip a Free Colonist with horses and visit an Indian Village, chances are they will upgrade him to a Seasoned Scout. The terrain around native villages gives an indication of what skill they may teach, but it is no guarantee. Tobacco Planting is usually the most difficult to get.
What about long distances?
Let's say that your colonies are situated down in Argentina on the original Americas map. One of your scouts finds a village with the Tobacco Planter skill way up north, on the north-west coast of North-America. There are two things you can do to speed up the process.
1) The quickest way is to load a Privateer with one or two Free Colonists/Indentured Servants and ship them up north. Privateers have a movement rate of 8 (9 with Magellan) and are therefore superb escort vessels.
2) If you don't have any Privateers, the village is not too far away, or the village is inlands, another thing you can do is to equip two FC/IS with horses and ride them up to the target. Once you are nearby the village, use one of the colonists to establish a temporary colony. The other one unloads his horses, moves into the village and learns his new skill. Then simply move him back into the temporary colony, equip with horses, abandon colony and ride them back home. Of course you have the option to let both colonists learn a new skill on this trip. This saves a lot of time -- you have a movement rate of 4 instead of 1.
Where to find the different skills:
On the original America map, fur can usually be found in the north (Canada) and sometimes in the northern parts of South America. Cotton can sometimes be found in the Tupi village in Argentina and always in the mid-west of North America (From the Apache tribe). Sugar Planting is taught by almost all Tupi villages in Brazil, sometimes in the Mexico region, and often from the Arawaks in The Caribbean. Tobacco Planting can sometimes be a bit tricky, but this is where you may find it: Tobacco terrain in Argentina, South/South-east in North America (Florida to New-Orleans), and finally somewhere along the west coast of North America.
Once you have at least one colonist with a master planting skill, you can teach more colonists in your colleges, so getting at least one is vital.