What would you ask an LLN specialist?

Q: Where’s an LLN specialist when you need one?
A: At Velg Training’s National VET Conference in November!

This year, LLN guru Jo Medlin and I get to chat about all things LLN and VET. In our conversation, we will answer some of the burning questions VET practitioners have about LLN and other foundation skills, and how to help learners build the foundation skills they need to attain competence.  

Please help us build the roadmap for our #2022NVC session by completing this three-question survey. Your responses will be valuable, even if you do not plan to attend the conference (but we’ll always tell you that #2022NVC is a great event for any VET practitioner)!

And please forward this post to your colleagues.

We will close the survey at the end of Sunday, 26 June and look forward to reading your suggestions, then.

Here’s the link to the survey

In advance, thank you!

Jo and Chemène.

P.S. So you know, here are the survey questions:

  1. Have or will you register for #2022NVC? (we won’t ask you to tell us if you intend to attend our session or not, but of course we hope you do!)
  2. What is your most burning question about LLN/foundation skills in VET?
  3. (optional) Do you have a second burning question?  If so, please share it with us.

Digital literacy – the fourth literacy after LLN

Author: Allison Miller, Lead Consultant, Digital Capability


Many thanks to Allison Miller for this post. Allison is an educator with 25+ years of experience in VET and adult education, and a digital guru! She helps organisations and individuals develop systems and skills to build the capability to thrive in today’s digitally-driven workplace.

In this post, Allison outlines some of the key digital literacy needs that have emerged from ongoing changes to the world of work—and accelerated by the Pandemic—and offers a downloadable guide with strategies VET practitioners can use to address these needs with their learners.

Photo by SHVETS production on Pexels

The need for effective digital literacy skills has been a recognised for a number of years (McLean, et al, 2020), however, the impact of COVID-19 has significantly increased the use of digital technologies by governments, businesses, educational institutions, community groups and individuals (CSIRO, 2020).

This increase was brought about by the need to stay connected with customers and colleagues, as well as, to ensure that essential services and food production could be maintained, even when access to supplies and staff were constrained. This forced many organisations to turn to the ‘Cloud’ to support work/learn from home practices, as well as, to digital automation and artificial intelligence to ‘collect the crops’ when people resources were scarce (Australian Industry and Skills Committee, 2022).

This demand for digital technology has also opened more ‘digital doors’ for cyber-crime and cyber-security issues, which has had an even greater exponential effect on the need for organisations and individuals to be even more digitally savvy (Nabe, No date).

This means that, just like it is every Vocational Education and Training (VET) trainer’s responsibility to develop their students’ Language, Literacy and Numeracy (LLN) skills. It is also (now, more than ever) every VET trainer’s responsibility to develop their students’ digital literacy skills, moving LLN into LLND.

The Guide to Developing Student Digital Literacy Skills supports this need.

This Guide helps VET trainers:

  • prepare to implement digital literacy skill development activities in their training
  • adopt strategies for developing industry-specific and generic digital literacy skills in their students
  • find ways to guide and let go by moving from being teacher-centred to learning-centred
  • ensure their students are able to work successfully and safely online.

Allison Miller is a professional learning and business development leader of 25+ years. She is the Director and Lead Consultant of Digital Capability. Visit the Digital Capability website for more information about Allison and her work.


Australian Industry and Skills Committee. 2022. Digital skills, National Overview

Donnellan, A. 2020. The five megatrends that could shape Australia’s future, CSIRO

McLean, P. Oldfield, J. & Stephens, A. 2020. Foundation Skills for Your Future Digital Framework, Commonwealth of Australia

Nabe. C. No date. Impact of COVID-19 on Cybersecurity. Deloitte

Time to review foundation skills frameworks

First things first…

A belated happy new year. It amazes me that we are already into our third month of 2022. I would also like to acknowledge you if you have been faced with ongoing COVID issues, floods, fires, or any of the other varied challenges that 2022 has pointed towards us. I wish you safety, health and strength as we move towards the end of this first quarter of the year.

Photo by Ravi Roshan on Unsplash

For many, 2022 is off to a busy and productive start

I speak of the project working group responsible for reviewing and updating the key foundation skills frameworks used in Australia. These frameworks are:

The ACSF and DLSF are descriptive frameworks that give us a common language and a set of reference points for discussing, learning, reading, writing, oral communication, numeracy and digital literacy skills.

The Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) has assembled a project team to review these frameworks and identify if any changes can be made to make them even easier to use and more useful, to the people who use them.

The project team wants to hear from you!
Whatever your interest in the ACSF and DLSF, the project team wants to learn more about how you use these frameworks, and what (if any) changes you can suggest, for their ongoing improvement.

Read the information below from the project team to find out:

  • what has been done so far
  • how you can get more information and contribute feedback.

What has been done so far

The discovery phase of the ACER review of the Australian Core Skills Framework (ACSF) and the Digital Literacy Skills Framework (DLSF) is now complete.  

What’s next?

The next project phase will launch with an online survey and two online discussion forums.

1. Online survey – available from 11 March 2022

The survey will help the project team understand your views on a range of matters relating to the two frameworks, as well as assessment tools based on the ACSF. It will focus on how the frameworks are used and any changes that may be needed to the frameworks – or the tools that are used to support them – to ensure that they are fit for purpose.  

Access the online survey from the project webpage

The project webpage gives an overview of the key stages of the project. You also will be able to access the online survey from the project webpage, but not until 11 March – so mark it in your calendar!

2. Discussion forums

Stay informed and share your views about the review by attending one or both of the online discussion forums being held later in March:

  • Forum 1: 17 March 4 to 5pm AEDT: An information session on the project and its discovery phase findings. An opportunity to ask questions about the project (live or via chat). 
  • Forum 2: 31 March 4 to 5pm AEDT: This forum gives you an opportunity to expand on your responses to the online survey and provide more specific feedback relating to the frameworks. 

The forums are open to all who use the frameworks and/or tools in their various job roles. 

Email FSFrameworks@acer.org to tell us which forums you want to attend.

We will send a Zoom Meeting link to join the forums you nominate.

Happy holidays – and a sneak peak at 2022

First, a heartfelt ‘thank you’!

Thank you for supporting the LLN and VET Meeting Place website in 2021. I will take a short break over the holidays, then look forward to seeing you in 2022.

What we’ll pay attention to in 2022

Foundation Skills Frameworks Review Project

The Department of Education, Skills and Employment (DESE) has recently announced a review of the Australian Core Skills Framework (ACSF) and Digital Literacy Skills Framework (DLSF). See more information on the DESE website.

I will pay attention to developments and will post news on this site. I’d also welcome input from those of you who are involved in this project!

TAE review

I will continue to monitor progress on the review of the TAE training package and implications for content related to LLN and foundation skills, and will post information as it comes to hand. Again, to those of you who are involved in this project, please contact me with news.

Meanwhile, back to LLN and VET Meeting Place…

I will continue administering the LLN and VET Meeting Place website in 2022 and will continue to rely on your help to do continue conversations about LLN, VET and other foundation skills.

Please contact me in 2022 with:

  • offers to write a blog post with useful information or teaching strategies
  • links to resources that I can add to the resouce repository – we are constantly on the lookout for cost-free, useful teaching materials or information to help VET practitioners and other adult educators build foundation skills into their training
  • news of events or projects related to foundation skills that we can post about.

That’s over and out for 2021. Enjoy a well-deserved break, and I’ll look forward to seeing you on the other side of it!

SBS’ Lost for Words – essential viewing (and more)!

Photo by Nathaniel Shuman on Unsplash

Molly Meldrum is famous for saying, “Do yourself a favour.” If you are a teacher, trainer or educator of any kind—and even if you are not—I encourage you to ‘do yourself a favour’ and watch SBS‘s Lost for Words program.

What is Lost for Words?

Lost for Words is a three-part series that follows eight Australians as they undertake an intensive, nine-week adult literacy program.

I began watching it on my own and for work purposes, but within 10 minutes of the first episode, my whole family joined me. For the next two weeks, Lost for Words was must-see viewing for my entire household.

It seems that my household was not unique. The response to the series has been very strong. Jo Medlin, one of the literacy teachers showcased in Lost for Words and President of The Australian Council for Adult Literacy (ACAL), tells me that since the program has aired, ACAL has seen a tremendous increase in inquiries from people asking how they could support adults with literacy needs.

So why is Lost for Words so powerful?

I think Lost for Words works so well because it is so relatable.

As viewers, we experience the frustration and uncertainty that comes from trying to navigate the world with literacy levels lower than those needed for everyday things—like knowing which train to board, ordering from a menu, or reading your children a bedtime story. This program adds reality to the statistics that tell us literacy challenges affect more than one-third of adult Australians.

Although Lost for Words spotlights people with significant literacy needs, it also highlights the importance of foundation skills for all of us.

It reminds me that if we vocational trainers teach the foundation skills our students need to do the jobs we are preparing them for, outcomes will be stronger than if we just ‘teach the job’. So the next time I deliver a presentation skills program, I will teach examples of the language that effective presenters use. And I will teach problem-solving skills needed to respond effectively when asked an unexpected question.

So do yourself favour….

Go to SBS On-Demand and watch Lost for Words.

But wait, there’s more!

Are you a literacy teacher? Try these classroom ideas based on Lost for Words!

Lost for Words was not designed as a teaching tool, but that hasn’t stopped Jo Medlin and Adam Nobilia from thinking about how teachers and learners could use the show as a springboard for classroom and tutorial session activities.

They have produced a Word document with literacy activities that teachers and trainers can use with their students. The activities are based on those used in Episode 1 of Lost for Words.

They welcome your feedback on the activities. Please send it to: info@acal.edu.au.

Are you studying TAE or just want to learn more about foundation skills in the workplace? Attend this webinar!

On 10 November at 11:00am AEDT, the Australian Industry Group will host a webinar called Literacy, Numeracy and Digital Literacy 101: What employers need to know.

This webinar is free of charge and its speakers include four of Australia’s leading experts in literacy and numeracy.

I’ve signed up and am looking forward to hearing what our experts have to say.

I hope to see you there!

Adult learners week – what will you learn?

Today is the first day of spring—a time for renewal. Today is also the first day of Adult Learners Week.

Learning is the foundation of foundation skills. Learning underpins everything!

So what opportunities does Adult Learners Week pose:

  • to help you learn something new
  • to help you help your learners learn something new – and in the process, build their learning skills?

Here are some ideas for things you can try, or encourage your learners to try, this week:

Start today!

See what learning events Adult Learning Australia suggests this week.

Establish a routine

Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going.

Jim Ryun – Multiple world record holder in running

Start a personal learning routine, and encourage your learners to do the same. Little and often usually works best. For example, perhaps you (or your learners) could:

  • listen to a podcast while walking the dog
  • in the first few minutes of your weekly classes, establish a ‘one thing we have learned this week’ sharing session
  • follow someone you admire and can learn from, on social media
  • set a goal of learning one new thing each day, then at the of each day before bed, identify what you learned—perhaps keep a learning journal by your bed, so you can add what you learned that day, before turning out the light
  • plan regular conversations with peers, supervisors or friends—it’s amazing how much we learn through informal conversation!
  • take a course or attend an event (for example, the one below).

Join a national conversation on adult literacy approaches

Free live, online panel discussion on 08 September 2021, 1-2:30pm AEST

Adult Learning Australia has brought together a panel of literacy experts to discuss literacy approaches.

Click here for more information and to register.

Please share your ideas!

If you know of any other events, good reads, great podcasts, or more that might interest others, please add them to the comments.

Happy learning!

Do you have experience with TAELLN411? If so, we want your feedback!

TAELLN411 Address adult language, literacy and numeracy skills is a unit of competency that describes the skills, knowledge and abilities that trainers and assessors need to help their learners develop the LLN skills needed for competence.

TAELLN411 is also a core (required) unit in TAE40116 Certificate IV in Training and Assessment (Cert IV TAE, for short).

ACAL wants your feedback about TAELLN411 – the good and the bad, and ways to improve it!

If you are familiar with TAELLN411 – the Australian Council for Adult Literacy (ACAL) wants you!

We expect that the TAE Training Package will soon undergo a review. With this in mind, peak bodies like ACAL are gathering feedback from industry, now.

Your feedback is confidential and will be used to inform future versions of this unit of competency. So now’s your chance to have a say about changes you recommend to TAELLN411, or about strengths that should be retained.

“When is the deadline?” I hear you ask

ACAL will be accepting submissions until 30 July 2021.

How to provide feedback

To provide feedback, complete this short survey.

You may also provide more detailed feedback by emailing Jo Medlin, President of ACAL via acalpresident2020@gmail.com

Skills urgency

I was intrigued by this title of a recent report by the Australian Industry Group (AIG), written about Australian workforce needs. The report directly references digital literacy as an area of need, and indirectly references other foundation skills that Australian works need, if they are to succeed in today’s constantly-evolving world of work.

I decided to write a post about how—in my opinion—vocational trainers can focus on foundation skills to help their adult learners meet these skilling needs.

In the post, I make two key points about how to use foundation skills effectively in vocational education and training. These are:

  • the need to focus on the full range of foundation skills
  • the idea that all learners benefit when we focus on foundation skills in our training.

Read the full post on the Blackwater Projects website.

If you are a trainer who is looking for resources and information about foundation skills and how to incorporate them into your training, have a look through this site, in particular:

The case for a national policy on adult literacy

The Australian Council for Adult Literacy (ACAL), is an association that promotes adult literacy and numeracy policy and practice across Australia.

Earlier this year, ACAL made a submission to the Parliament of Australia’s

Standing Committee on Education and Employment, about adult literacy and its importance.

Summary of ACAL’s submission

ACAL would like to see a nationwide policy that establishes everyone’s right to a basic level of literacy.

ACAL’s recommendations for such a nationwide policy are based on five principles:

  1. To be literate and numerate is a human right.
  2. The Australian Government accepts that free and equitable access to lifelong and life-wide basic literacy and numeracy education is a social responsibility and provides provision accordingly.
  3. People’s reading and writing needs encompass more than those required at work. They may involve supporting their children’s education, participating in their community’s activities, managing their financial affairs, dealing with bureaucracy, and undertaking leisure activities for wellbeing and enriched life experiences.
  4. Ongoing literacy and numeracy development opportunities are required to ensure and increase each Australian’s ability to respond to events such as pandemics, natural disasters, economic impacts, and increased online demands. As day-to-day demands change and increase, this assistance must be at all proficiency levels, not only at the most basic.
  5. There is a requirement for a full range of literacy learning practices to be available post- school as a second chance at further learning.

Recommended policy content should include:

  • access to training opportunities to develop all aspects of adult literacy and numeracy.
  • a range of modes is required to ensure all aspects of adult literacy and numeracy need are addressed.
  • the continuation of the Reading-Writing Hotline
  • the renewal of the adult literacy and numeracy workforce that would support research-informed, contemporary design and delivery of programs that are responsive to the literacy and numeracy demands experienced by adults. 
  • a funded resource centre that collates new research in the field as well as good practice materials, publishes them
  • updated research into the Australian field of adult literacy and numeracy is required

More information

Download a pdf ACAL’s full submission here.

You can see submissions from other parties here.

2020: the year of the Digital Literacy Skills Framework

keyboard-5017973_1920 (1)

2020 was a year for change. I’m sure you didn’t need me to tell you that. With the obvious pandemic-driven changes to our professional and personal lives this year, you may have overlooked this very important (and timely) complement to the five core skills in the Australian Core Skills Framework (ACSF).

Digital Literacy Skills Framework

Earlier this year, the Department of Education, Skills and Employment (DESE) commissioned the development of the Digital Literacy Skills Framework (DLSF).

This work was undertaken by by Philippa McLean (Project Manager) and Jenni Oldfield, both experts and industry leaders in foundation skills.

The DLSF is at the validation stage, and remains to be finalised.

We expect—and hopethat the DLSF will eventually be incorporated into the ACSF publication, but for now:

  • the original five core skills remain in the ACSF.
  • Digital Literacy is presented separately, as the DLSF.

Implications of the DLSF for VET practitioners

The DLSF is an important tool used in DESE‘s Foundation Skills for Your Future program. Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) offering this program are already using the DLSF.

But in 2020, digital skills became important to everyone—not just people involved in the Foundation Skills for your Future program:

  • Australian workers had to extend their digital skills to learn to work from home and/or adapt to new job requirements
  • digital inclusion became more important than ever before
  • the need for vocational trainers to both learn and teach digital skills became even more essential for students to achieve program outcomes.

So, the DLSF is a valuable resource for all VET practitioners. We can use the DLSF to help ourselves and our students identify and build the digital skills necessary for competence, and to thrive in today’s world of work.

More about the DLSF

Philippa and Jenni have generously offered this PowerPoint to tell us more about the content and structure of the DLSF:

More downloads


Download the Australian Core Skills Framework (ACSF).


Download the Digital Literacy Skills Framework (DLSF).

Questions, comments or feedback?