Guest Blog, originally posted at LLN and VET Meeting Place, an intersection of LLN and VET Practitioners

Image by: LLN and VET Meeting Place
Image by: LLN and VET Meeting Place

Myth: By teaching the vocational task (e.g. hairdressing), all learners build competence in both the vocational task and in the foundation skills needed to perform that task.

Fact: To develop foundation skills, some learners need explicitfoundation skill-building strategies merged into vocational programs

So what are explicit foundation skill-building strategies?

The key word here is, ‘explicit’.  To be explicit is to be proactive and make foundation skill development in our vocational training both obvious and

highly visible

… i.e. explicit.

We can’t just hope that if we concentrate on teaching the vocational task, foundation skills will come. They may, but with many learners they may not.

How can I get started?

To get started, adopt a dual-delivery focus to your vocational training programs.  Focus on:

  1. How to build vocational skill – e.g. ability to cut hair, AND
  2. How to build the foundation skills needed to perform the skill at work – e.g. speaking and listening skills needed to converse with clients while cutting hair; numeracy skills needed to calculate the bill for the hair treatment.

Devise training strategies that cover both vocational skill and foundation skills.

Here’s a 2 step process to consider

  1. Explore the training content foundation skills

  2. Explore how you can reveal the foundation skills ‘how to do it’ steps’

1    Explore the training content foundation skills

What do the learners need to do?

Look at the task from a different perspective. Instead of focusing on the task only from the perspective of the what you intend to deliver, align your reflection towards the foundation skills and ask, when the learners do this, what will they actually need to do? What skills or knowledge are involved with this task?

For example, what is involved with:

  • recording case notes?
  • developing spreadsheets?
  • completing this project?
  • costing electrical installation?
  • analysing policy documents?
  • preparing a speech?

Ask, what will the learners actually need to do to complete the tasks? What skills and knowledge are involved to be able to perform that task? If you find examples helpful, here are some resources describing foundation skills within a mix of industry, and government roles.

2    Explore how to reveal the ‘how to do it’ steps

You may think it’s obvious, but for many learners the foundation skill ‘how to do it’ steps are invisible. It may feel odd, or uncomfortable, but finding your voice, or a resource, that reveals the foundation skill ‘how-to-do-it’, can make all the difference to learners really ‘getting it’ and being able to apply, and transfer the foundation skills, or not.

Tasks seem so natural to us, we forget that we have a subset of procedures, strategies, specific skills and knowledge enabling us to do the task so seamlessly. Have theAustralian Core Skills Framework (ACSF) and Core Skills for Work (CSfW) easily accessible. The performance descriptions will help to clarify what is involved – the skills and knowledge.

Locate resources that reveal the skills and knowledge involved. For example this Youtube focus shows and explains the fundamentals of  writing a paragraph. The Queensland Council of Adult Literacy Tutor Tips provide a range of foundation skill ‘how to do it’ strategies for trainers. For example, if your learners need to develop report writing skills this report writing pdf reveals the structure, features, purposes of this text type.

If you would like to know more about building foundation skills through vocational training, join the team from LLN and VET Meeting Place at this upcoming workshop…

“Build it in: How to merge foundation skill development with adult education and training”

 7 August 2015, Sydney

Access the details here or download the workshop flyer


This guest blog was written by Ann Leske and Chemene Sinson of LLN and VET Meeting Place

Ann Leske

ann-leskeAnn has a Master in Education and has been involved in education and training for 16 years as an Adult Language Literacy and Numeracy teacher, Project Manager, Researcher, and innovator. Ann has prepared and contributed to published outcomes that have influenced others and provided new approaches. Ann leads professional development and consultations across Australia which enabled workplaces, RTOs, and LLN and vocational education and training (VET) teachers to obtain LLN insight and confidently approach LLN delivery. Ann has also taught LLN and VET teachers the current Language Literacy and Numeracy Certificate IV units and Graduate level qualifications

Visit Ann’s LinkedIn page for more information.

 Chemène Sinson

Chemene-SinsonChemène is a learning and development consultant who specialises in TAE qualifications and other non-accredited programs.  She has extensive experience consulting, designing and delivering TAE Certificate IV and Diploma programs for various private, community, government and industry-based RTOs.  She has written a suite of learning and assessment materials for the Certificate IV in Training and Assessment purchased by more than 100 RTOs to date.  In recent years she has focused her own professional development on language, literacy and numeracy development through VET.

Visit Chemène’s LinkedIn page or her website for more information.

Building foundation skills through vocational training: fact vs myth
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