Start a new year – and new program – with a foundation skills lens

Term one will soon be underway for another new year.  So, we thought this may be a good time to offer some suggestions on how to apply a foundation skills lens when preparing for training delivery.  This post offers four suggestions to help you do this.

1 Embed foundation skills into program design and delivery

We offer two ways to do this:

Use digital tools to engage learners and promote learning

The range of tools we use helps us create ‘Digital Palaces of Learning’ (Andrew Welstead – Velg National VET Conference 2016).  Using a range of tools:

  • offers varied and dynamic learner experiences
  • helps us customise our delivery – reach and respond to individuals
  • promotes interaction with the content.

Not sure which tools to use?
Each year, Jane Hart from the Centre for Learning and Performance Technologies asks her followers to rate the top tools they use to promote learning.  The 2016 survey reveals this list of the top 200 tools.

Last year, Jane went a step further and identified the top 100 tools for education.  If the tool is in the top section of the list, we know that many people use it and it’s likely to:

  • be reliable
  • be relatively easy or straight forward to use
  • offer sufficient help /answers to questions to the user.

Embed foundation skills into VET training – the training plan validation tool may help you do this

When TAELLN411 was introduced, a range of resources to support trainers were were developed. The Training Plan Validation Tool is an example. Unfortunately the name is misleading – it leads people to think it’s about Assessment validation, but its real purpose is to help us plan, when, where, and which foundation skills to introduce and support throughout your program delivery.

Keiko Yasukawa reminds us not to assume learners will have the necessary foundation skills to perform the task:

“While some students may learn quickly, we have no reason to assume that students are proficient in the LLN of a new environment for a new purpose before they start”

Kemmis, R and Atkins, L. 2014 Teaching in the VET Sector in Australia. Chapter 6 Yasukawa, K. Language Literacy and Numeracy in VET Teaching p. 103

2 Tune-in to the Foundation Skills

What foundation skills are involved in the training you deliver? Here are four sites that provide a closer look at the foundation skills needed for particular job roles.  Even if these aren’t the same as the work tasks you deliver, you may find these examples useful.

Job outlook

job-outlookJob Outlook offers a detailed list of the range of skills within a role. And, there are MANY roles here. The SKILLS include many of the Core Skills for Work Focus Areas which are listed in order of importance/frequency of use.

Skills highway

workbase-skills-highway-profilesSkills Highway is the location to access a collection of Literacy Profiles that provide sufficient detail and examples across LLN PLUS Critical Thinking and Technology.

Government skills Australia

numeracy-skills-gsaGovernment Skills Australia prepared a series of videos covering the literacy skills used across many government/council roles.

Auto skills Australia

foundation-skills-auto-tradesAuto Skills Australia offers a range of videos covering the literacy skills used across many auto/vehicle roles.

3 Prepare to support learners – who needs what?

Facilitate individual development

Most groups include a mix of learners, with different skills and knowledge.  All learners will likely need support of some kind when they are introduced to a skill or concept for the first time.

Two helpful resources to guide use as we prepare to support learners are:

The Australian Core Skills Framework gives examples of the type of support different learners may need.  The table below summarises support options, depending on the learner’s skill level:


The Core Skills for Work includes a separate document titled, Facilitating Individual Development of Core Skills for Work.  Like the ACSF, the CSfW is based on a 5 level developmental framework. The suggestions and advice in this table are based on the Novice to Expert continuum however, they align very closely to the 5 levels in the ACSF.

This resource adds further advice with suggestions for:

  • the type of support that ‘best fits’ with the level
  • what the learner will be looking for from the support
  • what might frustrate the learner
  • who could provide that support
  • the type of feedback most helpful

4 Promote learn-to-learn skills


Learning underpins all the foundation skills.  It’s possibly the most import foundation skill to promote.

The Crowdsourced Guide to Learning – made by learners, curated by FutureLearn

FutureLearn is a university conglomerate that offers a broad range of MOOCS (Massive Open Online Courses). Course participants are offered their Learning How to Learn resource – and it’s worth sharing. Our learners come with multiple learning experiences and skills. Selecting the ‘perfect’ fit for each learner may be a challenge. This resource covers a range of related aspects.

“In April 2015, FutureLearn invited people around the world to share their top study tips with us … while there are tried and tested methods for learning effectively, everyone has their own idiosyncrasies and habits … So in this guide, we try to showcase both our favourite tips from learners AND expert advice from the academic and online learning community.”


The resource covers:

  • why do you learn?
  • how do you organise your learning?
  • which techniques help you learn with others?
  • what keeps you motivated to learn?
  • being a future learner (lifelong learning).

Want more ideas?  We’re offering a series of foundation skills webinars through Velg Training!

In February and March 2017 we’ll deliver a series of Velg Training Webinars  that cover foundation skills.  The webinar series will clarify what foundation skills are, why they are relevant, and how to embed foundation skills into your vocational training.

  • Webinar 1. Foundation Skills and Learning: 23 February, 2017
  • Webinar 2. Oral Communication and Numeracy: 2 March, 2017
  • Webinar 3. Reading and Writing: 9 March, 2017.



One thought on “Start a new year – and new program – with a foundation skills lens

  1. basdenleco January 17, 2017 / 6:54 pm

    Comprehensive article with a plethora of ideas,tips and resources.


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