ACSF Pre-Level 1 Supplement: 2016 version

A quick reminder that our very short, online survey closes COB this Monday, 31 October 2016.  The survey asks for your feedback about our site – what works, what doesn’t, and what to feature in 2017.  We’d be grateful for your feedback.


Thank you!  And now, back to our regularly-scheduled post!


Hot off the press!

The Department of Education has released a new version of the ACSF Pre-Level 1 Supplement.

This new supplement will make it easier for us to meet needs of our learners.  Learners working at pre-level 1 need time to build skills, and usually progress in small steps.  The new pre-level 1 supplement describes these small—and now more recognisable—steps that learners working at pre-level 1 may take towards pre-level 1 exit level.  This will make it easier for us to more accurately identify, develop and report on the capacity of learners at ACSF pre-level 1, and identify ways to link from pre-level 1 to higher ACSF levels.

Make sure you access the 2016 DET updated version, rather than the previous PDF version

What’s new about this version?

The new ACSF Pre-Level Supplement offers, for each core skill, the same sections and structure as the 5 LLN core skills levels 1 to 5. This includes…

“… a detailed set of Indicators, Focus Areas, Performance Features and Sample Activities by which learner core skill gains can be determined and reported.”

(Department of Education and Training 2016 ACSF Pre-Level 1 Supplement, p1)

Stages are new!

At first glance, it may seem that the pre-level 1 information in this new supplement is presented in the same way as for core skill levels 1 to 5.  But this isn’t quite true.

For the first time, the new ACSF Pre-Level 1 Supplement describes two stages of progress—Stage A and Stage B—to represent the incremental progress learners may make.

The table below explains how each core skill is described in the new ACSF Pre-Level 1 Supplement:

Indicators Indicators are provided for each core skill.

Most of these start with, “Begins to …”

Focus Areas The focus areas that learners are likely to be able to demonstrate have Performance Features included.
Performance Features Performance features now describe two stages of skill development—Stage A and Stage B.
Sample Activities Sample activities are not divided into the three Communication Domains.  This is because at this level learners will need to develop their skills from highly familiar, personally relevant, and immediate contexts.

Sample activities for Stages A and B are provided.

Variables One set of variables applies to both stages.
Here’s an example

The example below shows Pre-Level 1 Writing Indicator 0.05: Begins to produce basic written text Performance Descriptions – stages A and B:


Why should we bother using this Pre-Level 1 Supplement?

SBS’s Insight program recently aired an episode called Reading Between the Lines (first aired on 23/9/2016), which highlighted the challenges some adult learners face with developing LLN and foundation skills.


This episode is an important reminder of the many people in our communities who may have limited LLN/foundation skills but who sincerely want to participate successfully in today’s world. We have a responsibility to do what we can to facilitate this.

We feel that this new Pre-Level 1 Supplement will help us identify a way forward.

Extra reading… preparing pre-level 1 instruction or assessment activities

  • The Pre-Level 1 Supplement offers good practice approaches (within the Theoretical Underpinnings section, page 1)
  • The Performance Features  and Sample activities for each LLN core skill  provide a range of skills and activities that are highly useful to preparing instruction and assessment strategies and approaches
  • If you want to see some examples of instruction or assessment tasks, have a look at the  Precision Consultancy ACSF validated tools. Two examples are shown here.
Example 1:  Making numbers work


Example 2: Make a Sling


Looking back to look forward


It’s the time of the year to review and reflect.

Looking back on 2016, we feel thankful, above all else.  Our membership has grown to more than 250 people, and we are grateful for your support.

We are also reviewing the LLN and VET Meeting Place site and making plans for 2017.  Our goal is to make sure that we continue to offer information, products and services that are useful to you.  We need your help to do this.

We’d appreciate your comments and suggestions about:

  • our 2016 site and services—what works and what could be better
  • the content and direction for LLN and VET Meeting Place in 2017—what to stop, start, change, and continue.

To capture your feedback, we have created a short, online survey.


Other things you might like to know about the survey:

  • You may complete it anonymously if you wish
  • It will take about 5-10 minutes to complete
  • We’ll close the survey by COB Monday, 31 October 2016.

Foundation Skills Assessment Tool (FSAT) : 1st of its kind for Australia

This is the one we’ve been waiting for… a high-quality, FREE assessment tool that RTOs can use to test learners in ALL foundation skills – i.e. LLN and employability skills!

The Department of Education has finally released FSAT, which the team at the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) has been working on for the past 2+ years.  This is the foundation skills assessment tool we’ve been waiting for!

In this post we’ll:

  • explain what the FSAT is
  • describe 7 benefits of using FSAT
  • explain exactly which core skills are assessed with FSAT, and how
  • tell you how you can help get FSAT approved for use with VET FEE Help students, asap
  • help you get started!

What is the Foundation Skills Assessment Tool (FSAT)?

The Foundation Skills Assessment Tool (FSAT) is an interactive online tool designed to identify and measure an individual’s foundation skill levels. This includes English language, literacy and numeracy skills as well as employability skills.

It uses the theoretical underpinnings of the Australian Core Skills Framework (language, literacy and numeracy) and the Core Skills for Work Developmental Framework (employability skills).

Source: (DET FSAT Frequently asked Questions)

7 reasons to use FSAT

1 Developed by ACSF and CSfW experts All of the tasks and questions used in FSAT have been developed jointly by teams of external ACSF and CSFW experts, including authors of the two frameworks, working alongside ACER assessment experts.
2 ACSF and CSfW assessed Language Literacy and Numeracy AND Employability skills
3 Assess 5 levels ACSF 5 skill levels AND CSfW 5 skill levels
4 Computer adaptive assessment Comprehensive branching structure to target the appropriate level of question difficulty

For details about the skills assessed on and off-line – see What skills are assessed and how?

5 See the results immediately Automatic and immediate scoring and report generation available for all online assessed core skills
6 Resources for the skills assessed offline Offline components come with manuals, prompts and marking guides
7 IT’S FREE That’s right, NO service fee!

What skills are assessed, and how?

Australian Core Skills Framework (ACSF) core skills assessed

Automatically scored skills ACSF Non-automatically scored assessments ACSF
  • Learning (Indicator 2)
  • Reading
  • Receptive listening
  • Numeracy
  • Learning (Indicator 1)
  • Writing
  • Speaking
  • Interactive listening

Core Skills for Work (CSfW) core skills assessed

Please NOTE: Nine out of ten CSfW core skills are assessed automatically. During the testing stage it was found that Skill Area 3d Create and Innovate did not adapt well to automatic assessment so needs to be assessed off line.

Skill Cluster

Skill Area

Navigate the world of work 1a Manage career and work life

1b Work with roles rights and protocols

Interact with others 2a Communicate for work

2b Connect and work with others

2c Recognise and utilise diverse perspectives

Get the work done 3a Plan and organise

3b Make decisions

3c Identify and Solve Problems

3d Create and Innovate (See NOTE above)

3e Work in a digital world

Use FSAT to assess prospective, or existing learners across all adult education and vocational training, courses and levels.  FSAT results can help you:

  • provide targeted feedback to each prospective learner about the range of skills they hold (i.e. their strengths) and skills to develop
  • guide and develop solutions, strategies, resources or advice so that prospective learners know what to do, and where to access the support
  • prepare candidates for a VET FEE Help approved assessment.

How to get started using FSAT

  1. First, you will need to register your organisation with an FSAT account.  For more information about registering, click here.
  2. Once you have your account up and running, you may give your clients access to FSAT.

More information

FSAT – general information FSAT – Frequently asked questions

See, also, other parts of our site:

  • access the information on our Foundation Skills page
  • or contact us via








Focus on formative assessment to build foundation skills

Formative Assessment

For this post, the Formative assessment refers to  the training stage sandwiched between Diagnostic assessment and Summative assessment. The stage of training where learners generally practise the foundation skills used to perform the workplace task.

Training Phase

Type of foundation skills assessment

Pre-training, or start of training Diagnostic assessment: check for learners’ existing foundation skills
During training
Formative assessment: check learners’ progress with learning how to perform the foundation skills embedded in the workplace task. Assessment for learning.
Completion of training Summative assessment: assess competency to perform the foundation skills embedded within the workplace task.  Assessment of learning.
The benefits of formative assessment to Build learners’ foundation

A typical training program follows the pattern:

  1. instructions about the workplace task (and the underpinning foundation skills)
  2. activities to practise the foundation skills required to perform the workplace task
  3. assess the learners’ competency to perform the workplace task with the embedded foundation skills

For learners who commence with enough workplace and foundation skills knowledge, this process may be sufficient.

But, if you have learners who:

  • are new to the workplace skill, or embedded foundation skill (Novice performer)
  • have some prior experience with the skills, but are unsure  (Advanced Beginner)
  • may need some skill revision, or a prompt to perform independently (Capable performer)

……… then, how will you know the instruction is sufficient to enable the learners to perform  independently and confidently at the time of final assessment.

For both trainers and learners it is valuable to find out as soon as possible, if learners need:

  • re-direction with ‘how-to’
  • revisiting strategies or resources
  • alternative strategies or approaches
  • alternative resources or support

……………to build foundation skills.

Adult learners:

  • can easily go off-track
  • may need to ‘un-do’ or re-learn a strategy, concept, or understanding
  • will benefit from confirmation of their approach
  • seek timely feedback

Formative assessment:

  • enables trainers to check the strength of instruction (‘how to’  …) and support strategies
  • enables the learners’ to become active participants in the learning process.

Think about ………….the implications of assuming learners are developing the necessary foundation skills, and don’t check?

We recommend an active and planned approach: Make formative assessment a priority…………..
1 implement an Assess to Learn approach

Assess Learn Develop a feedback-driven learning environment where you are tuned-in to the foundation skills progress made by the learners and use this to influence the guidance and the instruction you provide, or the delivery plan overall.

  • Assesses learners’ needs – what are the learners’ skills, what do they need to learn ‘how to do’ now?
  • Select the strategies and approaches to develop the learners’ foundation skills
  • Evaluatethrough formative assessment –  the effectiveness: check progress, understanding, confidence to perform the task independently What progress have learners made?

Think about …….. how might formative assessment influence your instruction approaches to build foundation skills?

2  Where possible, stretch the Practice phase out

Formative assessment cropped

‘Dip-into’ learners’ foundation skills progress during the ‘practice’ stage of delivery. Build into the practice stage frequent opportunities to capture what learners CAN do, and the  challenges they face. Be open to their reflective comments.

The benefits of collaborative activity

“Beware of the lonely learner: they are at risk of making less progress”

Denise Meyerson  2016 , Emerging Trends in Learning ACPET webinar

For learners: Working with others or responding to the thoughts and ideas of others helps to shape the learning and provides an ‘informal’ formative assessment.

For trainers: Providing feedback to a group is effective and impacts all learns involved – it may also be less time -consuming.

Think about ………when are the timely opportunities to check in with learners as they practise the foundation skills independently, or with others?

3 Tune-in to learner’s skill development, some suggested etools

Some etools to assist formative assessment:

Other approaches: 53 Ways to check for understanding
4 make the check in worthwhile for you and the learner

The type of feedback can make the difference between the learner moving forward or not.

  1. Accessed from under creative commons licence 8/8/16
    Accessed from under creative commons license 8/8/16

    Clarify steps, reveal the foundation skill nuances for this workplace context, expose common mistakes, or misunderstandings.

  2. Confirm progress, strengths and what’s needed
  3. Construct clear benchmarks/checklists/rubrics with what is expected or required


If you are interested in:

How to build LLN assessment into VET training (including formative assessment):

  • join us as we deliver a webinar via Velg on 30 August, 2016.
  • contact us to answer your questions






An update: LLN links for vocational trainers


Why this post?

If you are a VET practitioner, you will know of the many recent and ongoing changes to Australia’s VET sector.  As a result, there have been changes to how to access LLN (and foundation skills) information online.

In this post, we list up-to-date links for LLN and foundation skills information, resources, and tools. 

Of course, we also hope you’ll visit the resource links pages of our website, which have the links we’ll post here, and much more!

All links listed below are current at the time of writing.

See LLN teachers in action – video links

Ideas that work

Ideas that Work is an organisation that produces a range of professional development videos for use in a variety of industries.  A series of short LLN-targeted videos, called What Works for LLN is available for free online viewing.

What Works for LLN videos offer something for everyone—for trainers and assessors, for other RTO staff, for LLN specialists, and for people studying how to address LLN in training.

National Foundation Skills Strategy Project

One outcome of the 2014-2015 National Foundation Skills Strategy (NFSS) Project was a set of four video resources demonstrating different approaches to building foundation skills in a vocational context.

The different contexts and learner cohorts provide a valuable source of planning and delivery approaches.

National Centre of Literacy and Numeracy for Adults (New Zealand-based)

You may be wondering ‘why a New Zealand site’? New Zealand’s National Centre of Literacy and Numeracy for Adults provides a valuable source of strategies and resources to support the development of foundation skills within workplace training. You can read the latest outcomes of the NZ Adult Literacy focus here

One resource example is a You Tube channel that contains an extensive library of videos. There are 86 videos addressing aspects of Literacy! Below is just one example from their suite of videos covering Numeracy:

Self-paced online activities to build LLN skills

BBC Skillswise website

This site features various self-serve, self-paced activities that help people develop:

  • English skills
  • Literacy skills
  • Numeracy skills.

You may want to direct your learners to this site.

Khan Academy

This is a great site to help you or your learners build numeracy skills.

The Khan Academy is particularly good to watch and hear someone explain mathematical concepts and processes, from simple to complex. Learners can practice, check their attempt, and get immediate corrective instruction.

Examples of how to conduct ACSF assessments

Example 1 IBSA Pre-training Assessment Video on the IBSA video channel

Observe how these trainers approach  an LLN pre-training assessment.

Example 2 – videos created by Linda Wyse and Associates, in conjunction with Great Southern Communications

These videos let you observe how ACSF core skill assessments may be conducted. You will see:

  1. An ACSF assessment interview of an adult learner (Paul or Zoe), conducted by LLN specialists. As you watch this interview, consider how the learner responds to questions.  Identify the level of ACSF core skills you think the learner demonstrates.  Then watch the second video:
  2. A video of a discussion between LLN specialists as they discuss the levels of each core skill demonstrated by the learner. This video gives you an insight into how LLN specialists reach decisions about the core skill levels held by a learner.  You can also compare your thoughts with those of the specialists.

These videos are copyright (©) to the Commonwealth of Australia.  Please read the terms of use you’ll find when you visit each link.

ACSF assessment of Paul (Paul works in industry)

  1. View Paul’s ACSF assessment interview
  2. Listen to foundation skills specialists as they discuss the ACSF core skill levels demonstrated by Paul

ACSF assessment of Zoe (Zoe wants to learn English)

  1. View Zoe’s assessment interview
  2. Listen to foundation skills specialists as they discuss the ACSF core skill levels demonstrated by Zoe

Where to find LLN assessment tools

Precision Consultancy

Precision Consultancy has produced a suite of freely-available, LLN industry-validated ACSF assessment tools.  Some tools are generic (i.e. relevant to any industry) and others are industry-specific.

Each tool includes instructions for assessors on how to use the tool and lists the core skills and levels covered.  These tools also give terrific examples of what you might expect at each core skill level. So even if you don’t need them as assessment tools, you may use these as examples to help you write your own instructions for learners.

Other LLN assessments

At the time of writing, the Precision Consultancy ACSF assessment tools were the only tools that meet our criteria of being BOTH free, and validated by the adult literacy industry.

Keep your eye on the horizon for the Foundation Skills Assessment Tool (FSAT).  We are waiting for the Department of Education and Training to release it (hopefully soon).

General LLN information and research

If you’re interested in staying up to date with latest research on LLN and foundation skills, we suggest:

Foundation Skills POD by the National Centre for Vocational Education and Research (NCVER)

NCVER has set up this POD as a ‘hub’ of information and resources relevant to foundation skills and LLN skills in vocational education and training. The POD offers a collection of recent research across the different foundation skills related aspects. You will also see links to key international bodies also tuned into the development of ‘essential skills’, ‘adult literacy’ skills, or ‘foundation skills’.

At the heart of the matter, recent FS social media ‘Grabs’


Heart of matter 3

It’s now normal to regularly receive a range of information updates, enewsletters, tweets, social media posts, blog posts, and emails. Each one offering information, advice, snippets, suggested follow-up actions, or best ways’ to do something. Each one, prodding us to tweak our knowledge and practice.

AT the heart of the matter for us – LLN and VET meeting place – is  Foundation Skills. This post presents the top 5 recently received ‘grabs’ from various sources that speak to foundation skills

Quick reminder: 

  • Foundation Skills (defined by the National Foundation Skills Strategy NFSS) LLN skills (ACSF) + Employability skills (CSfW)
  • ACSF = Australian Core Skills Framework
  • CSfW = Core Skills for Work Developmental Framework
(1) A BookTeaching in teh VET sector

This book is written for people undertaking further study in VET teaching and is written from the perspective of ‘what does a VET teacher need to know?’.

Don’t brush this aside – each chapter holds content relevant to each of us, with contextual information, current developments, pedagogy considerations (where relevant) and reflective questions. The exploration of VET teaching practice is taken from a wide angled lens, presenting constructive information and strategic advice.

Chapter 6: Language Literacy and Numeracy in VET Teaching, was written by Keiko Yasukawa, a long-standing and influential Australian leader and researcher in the LLN domain, currently based at University of Technology Sydney. Keiko has much more to say, but these insights or questions are the pick for this post

P98 As a VET practitioner …………… actually have much to offer in the practice of integrating LLN into your teaching because it is the LLN demands of the your vocational discipline and work practices that the students are learning.”

P101 There are multiple literacy practices involved with completing a course (Ivanic et al, 2009)

  • Literacy practice for becoming and being a student
  • Literacy practice for learning content
  • Literacy practice for assessment
  • Literacy practice for the workplace

P103 Reflective question: How explicitly were you taught about these different practices? How does it feel when they are not explicitly taught and you cannot figure it out yourself?

P104 The basis of the ’embedded’ or ‘integrated’ approach is  ………….  focus on making the LLN that the learners and workers encounter explicit and teach it to all of the students.

P107 A Reflective question: Whose interests are at stake when I am making decisions about my approaches to practice?

(2) A websiteSkillsone


If you are looking for a resource with videos to inspire or encourage learners  pondering what vocational course? or direction? SkillsOne has ‘Hundreds of Videos about getting a trade or skill.

Videos can be helpful for showing what’s involved with the work, and the underpinning foundation skills. The videos are from different sources, so are different lengths. Some a ‘bites’, and others more detailed.

If you have access to a TV – search the Channels tab for TV programs featuring specific trades and skills, or future developments.

(3) AN EBulletinACER

Teacher | ACER updates are sent each week. Although they are directed at school teachers, we share a lot in common when it comes to teaching/training/delivering instruction.

Our goal is to reveal the foundation skills at the heart of the task, and know if the delivery approach was effective for the learner:

  1. Two of the biggest blockers ………are fear of failure and fear of hidden criteria – they’re not entirely sure what you’re looking for. So, if we can make it really clear……..then they’ll move forward. (21/5).
  1. Taking an inquiry approach to the effectiveness of your teaching. Ask the learners, what kind of feedback helps you? Many reply – ‘Step by step guidance’. Some learners will need more detail – what seems to be obvious to some learners, may remain a mystery to others.
(4) An infographicIf learning was water
  • The core skill Learning underpins the development of all foundation skills (ACSF and CSfW).
  • Learning strategies are interlinked, often invisibly, within training/delivery instruction and support.
  • Delivery or instruction strategies are critical to facilitating learning.

Enjoy this simple Infographic; nothing new. a simple metaphor to tempt deeper reflection!

In your context, how are learners assisted to learn, so they can build and develop necessary foundation skills?

(5) A Blog

workplace learning

The range of strategies to  assist learners to build and develop foundation skills is vast. The range of strategies to build specific foundation skills eg Reading or Numeracy , is also vast. Generally we build skills over time.

It’s easy to be locked into the same information bubbles feeding our professional skills and knowledge. What are the impacts of consuming what comes in through the same sources over and over? Have you progressed with confidence to approach or embrace foundation skills within your practice?

Jane Hart’s (C4LPT) framework captures the variety of ways a trainer  might continue to evolve their professional expertise.

With  foundation skills in mind, where do you go to find:

  • what you need to know NOW?
  • what is NEW ?
  • what’s NEXT on the horizon?


Future jobs – which foundation skills for the INFOTRONICS age?

Accessed CEDA p202 19/4/16
Accessed CEDA p202 19/4/16
 “The future is closer than you think”………………. “All these things are not just coming. We are in them.”

Chief Executive, Foundation for Young Australians, Jan Owen

Accessed 4/4/16 Google Atlas robot 2016 video
Accessed 4/4/16 Google Atlas robot 2016 video

If you’re not sure what the Infotronics Age may hold then have a look at:

  • the Google Atlas Next Generation 2016 robot in action (that’s it in the above photo) and think about its capacity to work 24/7, and remain free of injury!
  • the human-like robot , Sophia, in the video posted by Wendy Perry (Workforce Planning) who recently attended the US 2016 SXSW (South by Southwest) Interactive festival.Ponder potential roles – predictions suggest the intelligence capacity will supercede human potential – faster, cheaper!
  • the IBM Watson computer competing in the US TV show Jeopardy and that was 2 years ago! What has been developed since?

OR explore these documents:

future trends: the big picture
  • A 15 year-old today should expect to have 17 different jobs in five sectors in his or her working life
  • Two-thirds of the tertiary study currently being undertaken is towards jobs which soon won’t exist
  • Three-quarters of all new jobs will require science, maths or technology proficiency.

Chief Executive, Foundation for Young Australians, Jan Owen

The CSIRO 2016  Tomorrow’s Digitally Enabled World Data 61 suggests the speed of change will be rapid and unprecedented – “Whilst Australia’s workforce is continually changing the current period in history is characterised by a combination of forces likely to be associated with greater, faster and different transitions than previously experienced.”

The CSIRO Data 61 lists 6 key megatrends (also summarised here Huffington post )

  1. The explosion of device connectivity and artificial intelligence performing tasks more quickly, safely  and efficiently
  2. ‘Platform’ economics with porous boundaries
  3. Less jobs with large organisations, The rise of entrepreneurs creating their own jobs/work
  4. Divergent employment profiles
  5. The rising bar – increased technology and complexity required to tasks
  6. Employment growth in the service and education sector – towards a knowledge economy

The video at the bottom of the CSIRO Data 61 summary emphasises the intent of this document to:

  • offer insight to the future workforce predictions.
  • stimulate thinking, discussion and strategies about how best to position the Australian workforce for the changes ahead.

The good thing for us (in the education and training world) is that this report, and others,  predict education and training will have a significant role  – if it remains agile enough to ADAPT, SURVIVE and THRIVE  (Deloitte 2016) to the future trends and indicators

Which skills are required to transition successfully into and with the future?

We know that Science Technology Engineering and Maths (STEM) skills are important contributors to Australia’s innovation and economic growth in a global market; these skills are what employers ‘want’.

Current information also reveals employers want ….. ENTERPRISE SKILLS.

During the three years 2012 – 2015 the Foundation for Young Australians scanned 4.2 million job advertisements gathered from more than 6,000 websites, to track and collate trends in skills required now to enter the workforce. The final report, The New Basics reveals

Enterprise skills are transferable skills that enable young people to engage with a complex world and navigate the challenges they will inherit.
Enterprise skills are not just for entrepreneurs; they are skills that are required in many jobs. They have been found to be a powerful predictor of long term job success.
created by LLNandVETmeetingplace 4/16
created by LLNandVETmeetingplace 4/16

In a highly competitive environment workplaces want people who can:

  • track (mega) trends
  • predict, and solve dilemmas
  • develop that ‘difference’ or edge
  • communicate with a stand-out style
  • embrace the tools, inter connectivity and capacity that technology offers

Using data from the Future for Young Australian’s report, this Financial Review article expands on the skills representing ‘ENTERPRISE’.

accessed 26/4/16/jobs/graduate-employers-offer-9000-more-for-presentation-digital-skills-20160419-go9omc 26/4/16
accessed 26/4/16/jobs/graduate-employers-offer-9000-more-for-presentation-digital-skills-20160419-go9omc 26/4/16

“Across almost every profession, no matter what it was and no matter what the technical skill was, employers were privileging these skills.”

“We used to call them soft skills but now they clearly are core to the marketplace in Australia and we suspect globally around what employers need.”

Akin to these skills are trends IN THE NATURE OF WORK, REPRESENTED BY increases in:
  • opportunities for entrepreneurial approaches and start-up businesses
  • casualisation of the workforce
  • people working in shared co-working spaces

iStock photo 3/5/16
iStock photo 3/5/16
Which foundation skills are required to transition successfully into and with the future?

The 10 JOB SKILLS YOU WILL NEED IN 2020 captures a broad set of  ‘drivers’ and attempts explain or describe the cognitive activities, skills, and tasks in the highly connected global world. It’s from these tasks we can begin to consider – which foundation skills?

2014 (US) Top10onlinecolleges  – 10 job skills you will need in 2020
Drivers of change
Which foundation skills? THE FIVE ACSF core (lln) skills UNDERPIN THE CSfW EMPLoYABILITY SKILLS
Extreme longevity


Smart machines and systems


Computational world


New media Ecology


Superstructured organisations


Globally connected world

 1 Virtual collaboration – work productively and drive engagement

2 Understand concepts across multiple disciplines

3 Sense making – determine the deeper meaning

4 Cognitive load management

5 Cross cultural competence

6 Social Intelligence

7 Translate vast amounts of data into abstract concepts

8 Assess and develop new media content to persuade

9 Design Mindset

10 Proficiency with novel and creative solutions thinking

ACSF core skills:

  • Learning
  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Oral Communication
  • Numeracy

AT LEVELS 3- 4- 5


Interact with others

  • Speak listen understand interpret and act
  • Get the message across
  • Connect and work with others
  • Recognise and utilise diverse perspectives

Get the work done

  • Plan and organise, be organised
  • Identify and solve problems
  • Create and Innovate

Work in a digital world

  • Connect with others
  • Access organise and present information
Considerations for us, the trainers


NCVER Beddie 2015 The outcomes of education and training: What the Australian research is telling us, 2011 – 2014

  • Constantly emerging technologies and rapid shifts in the labour market mean that the 21st Century teacher has to navigate uncharted territory (p26)
  • boosting literacy and numeracy and STEM skills is a priority for the entire population (p31)
  • The VET sector needs to look beyond the competencies currently required by industry. More emphasis should be placed on foundational knowledge and building the capacity to learn. (p31)

CEDA (p29) predicts there may be tension between job-ready and broad-based competencies , suggesting the need for both and the capacity to integrate both should be guided by the overarching policy framework .

What initiatives TO ADAPT, SURVIVE AND THRIVE can we implement in our RTOs, with the Industry Reference Groups, and the Skills Service organisations?

When will SCENARIO PLANNING happen; where trends that will influence education and training are considered?

2 HIGH ORDER COGNITIVE SKILLS are the order of the day

For example, The Australian Association for Maths Teachers and the AIG prepared Identifying and supporting Quantitative skills of 21st Century workers 2014 reports the range of skills includes:

  • creating formulas within spreadsheets
  • modelling, including understanding thresholds and constraints
  • using extrapolation and extrapolating trends
  • recognising anomalies and errors
  • concise and clear communication of judgement
  • fast and often multi-stepped calculations and estimations

The New Basics points to embracing pedagogy with inquiry approaches, and collaborative activities involving real-world scenarios.

Which of the COMPETENCIES EXPECTED IN HIGH PERFORMANCE WORK ORGANISATIONS are you providing opportunities to develop?

  • Collaborative learning
  • Collaborative communication
  • Technology/digital/elearning
  • Media literacy and information literacy
  • Intrapersonal communication skills
  • Self-direction, emotional intelligence
  • Problem solving, critical thinking
  • Initiative, idea generating

3 REMAIN ABREAST of developments in our, industries, and those allied to it

The CSIRO Data 61 video and OECD Skills Outlook 2013 report, and The New Basics (p22) advise we must remain informed about ‘live’ industry trends so that instead of learners relying on heresay, we OFFER RELEVANT AND CURRENT ADVICE:

  • trends in workforce areas CSIRO p 19
  • provide quality career guidance CSIROp 27,
  • continue to promote educational attainment CSIRO p 23
  • provide easy to find, up to date information and guidance


With competition so tight, Industry experts claim the cover letter is on it’s deathbed and the CV is on life support’. ‘Recruiters are now urging younger workers to concentrate on strengthening their social media presence and networking ability if they want to stand out of the overcrowded pack.’

How are you REMAINING ABREAST WITH CURRENT AND FUTURE WORKFORCE TRENDS? What networks, collaborative connections and info sources are available to you?


INFOSYS commissioned the Future Foundation to undertake research which involved interviewing 1000 young people 16-25 across 9 countries, including Australia. The report was prepared to find out what is on the minds of these young people, some preparing for the workforce and others involved in it. The outcome reports valuable insight to contribute to the debates and discussion about preparing ‘those who will truly master the fourth industrial revolution’.  This summary article reports YOUNG AUSTRALIANS ARE THE LEAST PREPARED.

This INFOSYS Infographic, offers 3 optimistic signs and 2 concerns  revealed by young people:

  • On the brighter side: a valuable message: To remain agile – PREPARE FERTILE, INQUISITIVE MINDS PREPARED FOR A LIFETIME OF LEARNING.

Might THE NEED TO REMAIN AGILE be relevant to us all, not just those we teach/train and aim to inspire?



Cert IV TAE now includes LLN

So it’s finally happened…
The new Cert IV TAE (TAE40116) is here, and TAELLN411 Address adult language, literacy and numeracy skills is—finally—a core Cert IV TAE unit… now what?

In this post I’ll:

  • Provide some background of the ‘LLN story’ and its relationship with the Cert IV TAE
  • Highlight implications for:
    • vocational trainers and assessors
    • trainers and assessors of the Cert IV TAE
  • Suggest some ‘first steps forward’ for VET practitioners wanting to further develop their ability to address LLN skills in their own training.

First some history

I say ‘finally’ in my opening line above, because we’ve been waiting for LLN to become a core unit in the Cert IV TAE for a long time, now.

Statistics dating back as far as 1996 (SAL) tell us that the LLN skills of adult Australians could be better.  Similar results in the 2006 Adult Language and Life Skills (ALLS) survey were a significant contributor to the development of  a government endorsed policy: National Foundation Skills strategy for Adults. The policy introduced national skill level targets, and endorsed the role that vocational trainers have to deliver foundation skills.

In 2012, Innovation and Skills Australia (IBSA) produced a pdf called Changes Ahead for VET Trainers and Assessors.  This document announced that a new, mandatory unit focussing on language, literacy and numeracy would soon be added to the Certificate IV in Training and Assessment.  Page 5 stated:

When the TAE10 Training Package is revised in July 2014 all new and existing trainers will need to hold, or demonstrate equivalent competency for, the unit TAELLN401A.

This announcement sent the VET world into a LLN frenzy—RTOs smothered social media and other networks, falling over each other to offer the ‘mandatory’ LLN unit.  Trainers and assessors around the country were duped into thinking that they had to attain this unit, now.

And then a funny thing happened… IBSA realised that its current LLN unit at that time—TAELLN401A Address adult language, literacy and numeracy skills—went beyond reasonable expectations for VET practitioners who were not LLN specialists.  So, IBSA wrote a new unit—same title, different code.  TAELLN411 is the current ‘LLN’ unit and does quite a good job (in my opinion) of describing reasonable expectations for how VET practitioners can address adult LLN skills.

We settled in and became accustomed to TAELLN411.  We have known for some time that TAELLN411 would be added as a core Cert IV TAE unit when the TAE Training Package was next updated.  But we certainly didn’t expect to take so long!  It’s a relief to know it’s finally here.

So TAELLN411 is now a core TAE40116 unit—what are the implications for trainers and assessors?

The answer depends on exactly how you ask the question:

If your question is:  Must trainers and assessors attain TAELLN411?

The answer is, ‘no’.  In fact, contrary to all those media advertisements you’ve likely seen over the past two years, it has never been—nor is it now (as yet)—mandatory for qualified trainers and assessors to add TAELLN401 or 411 to their list of units held.

Currently the VET world is waiting for an announcement from COAG with information about whether or not trainers and assessors who are already qualified will need to ‘upgrade’ their qualification to meet requirements of the new—and tougher—TAE40116 Certificate IV in Training and Assessment.

If the decision is taken that trainers and assessors will need to upgrade, they’ll need to complete more than just the LLN unit.  View the post, TAE40116 endorsed… now what? from the TAE Talks blog for details of the key differences between TAE40110 and TAE40116.

But if your question is:  Should trainers and assessors attain TAELLN411?

In our opinion, the answer is a resounding ‘yes’!  This unit—if delivered by a reputable RTO—is fabulous professional development for trainers and assessors working in any industry.  I know that completing this unit has certainly made me a better trainer, because:

  • I am now far more aware of the foundation skills (including LLN) that my students need if they are to successfully complete my programs
  • I’m better at being able to uncover and isolate foundation skills and explicitly teach these as I teach workplace skills
  • It exposed me to endless possibilities and opportunities to keep learning how to address LLN skills in my vocational training… and I’m still learning!

Completing TAELLN411 is a fabulous way to get started building a realisation that LLN is everyone’s challenge, and we can make a positive difference to our students’ lives, even if we only work with them for a short time.

So where do I start?

Whether or not you have attained TAELLN411, we also recommend these resources as a way to refresh your thinking about how you can build LLN skills within your VET practice:




Pitching tasks to intended foundation skills: 6 suggestions

Aligning instruction and assessment tasks to a specific foundation skill level is relevant to each phase of learners’ engagement with training.

Prior to training or early into training

During the teaching and learning

Summative assessment at completion

Prepare tasks to identify  foundation skills the learner CAN demonstrate?

Use the information to identify the learners’ foundation skill needs

Prepare tasks to build and support learners’ foundation skill development.

Prepare tasks to enable learners’ to reveal foundation skills progress.

Use the information to consider what  strategies effective ir not effective.

Prepare tasks to enables the learners to demonstrate competency at the required  foundation skills and knowledge?

Use the information to determine successful or not successful assessment results or course completion.

Accessed from 13/3/16
Accessed from 13/3/16

Aligning, targeting or pitching – this can be an overlooked step

If you aim to identify, instruct or assess a specific core skill at a particular level of competency, then the outcome will be enhanced if there is regard to aligning the task (stimuli and instructions) to the intended foundation skill.

Foundation skills refers to both:

  • LLN – Australian Core Skills Framework ACSF
  • Employability skills –  Core Skills for Work Developmental Framework (CSfW)

Whilst some units of competency state very clearly the LLN (ACSF) or Employability skills (CSfW) level, many do not. The progress is interrupted by the recent cessation of the Industry Skills Councils and transition to Industry Reference Groups and Skills Services Organisations.

For many trainers, having regard for the ACSF or CSfW is necessary.

Wherever the starting point – identify, instruct, or assess – a task is involved. 


  • Sets the scene – what is this about
  • Initiates the first thoughts – what do I know about this?
  • Example: Read…., Listen ….., Watch ….


  • Advise the learner what to do to demonstrate performance of the skill or knowledge
  • Examples: Explain,  …….Demonstrate, ……. Produce …. 14/3/16 14/3/16

Why is it important to pitch the task at the required foundation skill level? Who/What is impacted?

 If the stimuli and instructions are not aligned to the foundation skill and level:

The learners

The trainer


  • The learners’ capacity to demonstrate what they CAN do, is at risk
  • The learners may not be assisted with appropriate strategies and support to build necessary skills
  • Competency at the training demand (AQF and foundation skill)  is compromised
  • Incorrect assumptions may be made about learners’ competency
  • Feedback, suggested strategies, and resources may be off-track to learners’ needs
  • Formative and summative assessment that informs planning and delivery – what’s working and what’s not – is compromised.
  • Instruction and assessment tasks may not meet the training benchmark – validation may be at risk
  • Awarded results may be invalid

Pitching to the intended core skill and level may take some practice; six suggestions

1  Take a closer look at the stimuli and instructions, ask the following questions:

Is the task pitched higher or lower than the training demand?

  • Does the stimuli content align with the learners’ reading competency?
  • Does the stimuli context align with the core skill level to be assessed?
  • Is the stimuli an authentic workplace document or have authentic workplace relevancy?
  • Are the targeted core skills required to engage with the stimuli?

  • Are the instructions written to enable most learners to access them?
  • Do the instructions require the intended skill to be used at the intended level?
  • Have the instructions been trialled for effectiveness?
  • Does the task enable the learner to reveal competency with the specific performance features  of the skill and level?

2 Refer to the ACSF

  • The Performance Variables (pge 5) describe the factors that will influence performance at any one time: context complexity, text complexity, task complexity and the level of assumed support or independence expected. The document includes a one page chart showing the four Performance Variables across the 5 ACSF levels. Each core skill and levels also states the associated Performance Variables. The performance variables provide a useful quick reference guide, but you may want to check other sections to be sure.
  • Sample Activities for each core skill and level are provided as a guide. Check out the activities suggested in the Education and Training, Workplace and Employment domains. Are there similarities to what you aim to identify, Instruct, assess?
  • The core skill level Indicators may offer support to your decision, although they may not reveal sufficient information
  • Specific details can be found in the  core skill Focus Area and Performance Features. Some trainers find the Performance Features Grids in the Appendices a helpful section as the Performance Features for each core skill across the five levels are located together.

3 Refer to the CSfW

  • The document provides a table titled Generic Descriptions of Stages of Performance across the five stages of development (Novice to Advanced performer) in a broad summary format.
  • The Skill Clusters:
    • Navigate the world of work
    • Interact with others
    • Get the work Done
  • AND the Skill Areas (10 of these) may help to locate the type and level of  employability skill you are aiming to identify, instruct or assess.  There is a table that combines the Skills Clusters and the Skills Area,, explaining what each of the skills is ‘about’.
  • The Focus Areas state the range of employability skills that align with the Skills Areas.
  • The description of the performance behaviour for each Focus Area and Stage of Development is located within the Performance Features tables. This reveals the specifics.
  • The CSfW includes Influencing Factors, which, are broader than the 4 ACSF Performance Variables. Like the ACSF Performance Variables, the Influencing factors have the potential to impact performance at any point in time. But unlike the ACSF, the Influencing Factors are not aligned in the Skills Clusters or Focus Areas by Stages of Development.

4 Refer to examples where you can see tasks (Stimuli and instructions) validated by industry specialists:

  • Precision Consultancy ACSF resources
  • The Manufacturing Skills Australia site continues to retain the foundation skills resources. There are literacy and numeracy indicator tools (updated in 2015). The resources include the questions mapping to the ACSF. You will need to create a login to the site (accessed 15/3/16).
  • Foundation Skills Assessment Tool (FSAT)  – is on the horizon, and will be freely available. The tool (developed by ACER) is designed to identify and assess foundation skill capacity. The tool is based on performance features of both the ACSF (LLN) and the CSfW (Employability skills) Watch out for the release of this tool

5 Become observant at Assessment Validation professional development either within or external to your RTO

  • Does the validation include explicit checking that the task stimuli and instructions align with the intended LLN skill and level?

6 Participate in formal/informal professional development

  • Adult Learning Australia have a Linked in Adult Literacy Network. Using a webinar platform, the ALA offer opportunities for members who want to submit tasks for validation against the ACSF, The sessions are presented by Philippa McLean; a key contributor to writing the ACSF. Validated tools are then stored and available for others in the network to access.
  • Connect with like-minded peers/colleagues. Is there a network available that is open to informal discussion, information sharing, and reflecting on effectiveness?
  • Ask Chemène or I via this website, or send an email to, or give us a call (phone numbers in the right column near the top.

Promoting learning – the invisible foundation skill

Accessed from 29/1/16
Accessed from 29/1/16

The foundation skill Learning is talked about less than more commonly recognised foundation skills such as reading or numeracy. Perhaps it’s because we assume that if adult learners are going through the motions of the reading or numeracy tasks and activities – not only is the learner developing the reading or numeracy skill but also the adult learner is developing their learning capacity. But are the two skills developing simultaneously?

The capacity to learn:

  • involves reflecting on, and identify the learning steps and strategies that made the difference between going on and achieving the unexpected, or giving up.
  • underpins success or progress with all foundation skill development.

We know that learning is:

  • a personal and invisible process – we can’t see it happening but the learner can be aware of learning something.
  • a different process for individuals – even with the same learning context/tools
  • impacted by two factors
What the adult learner brings:

  • existing skills and knowledge
  • personal identity and beliefs
  • desire and motivation to learn
  • desire and capacity to engage with others
  • personal learning preference
  • commitment/confidence to ‘push on’
What the learning context offers:

  • explanation/rationale about how?
  • resources to get started
  • resources to get support
  • strategies to get connected
  • practice opportunities
  • feedback opportunities

 Promoting the capacity to learn involves:

Opportunities to learn any time, any day

Accessed from  27/1/16
Accessed from 27/1/16

“Remember that our role goes beyond building courses and other experiences, but is about helping people learn. Learning happens all day, every day, in ways that are as often as not accidental. In 2016 I resolve to find ways of throwing more rocks in the learner’s path, to cause serendipity wherever I can.

Jane Bozarth (Learning Solutions Magazine, 5 January), in Thinking bigger, thinking broader, thinking beyond compliance

People expect to be able to learn whenever and wherever they want to. Online resources and tasks allow learning to happen at home, at work, while travelling, and face to face. Online resources promote learner control, they can watch a video, listen to an explanation, or do a quiz as often as they need to.

Opportunities to ‘see’ all that is involved

Accessed from 27/1/16
Accessed from 27/1/16

Many tasks involving core skill application require steps and strategies. Aim to step back and consider all the sub-skills involved:

  • what do you need to think about, do, or access?
  • what distinguishes this task or step from others that are similar?

What enables yo to do this (on the right) or this (below)?

Accessed from 27/1/16
Accessed from 27/1/16

Whatever ‘it’ is make ‘it’ clear, particularly for:

  •  Novice performer,  Advanced beginner or Capable performer (Core Skills for Work CSfW)
  • Levels 1, 2 or 3 (Australian Core Skills Framework ACSF).

Opportunities to access resources, engage with others, and reflect

Accessed from 29/1/16
Accessed from 29/1/16
Resources to

  • explain, demonstrate, reveal
  • provide information, context, summary of purpose or what to notice
  • (written, visual, or audio)
Resources with


models, worked through applications

Resources to

  • to practice
  • offer feedback
  • respond to  questions
Accessed from 27/1/16
Accessed from 27/1/16

Discussion is a valuable strategy to promote learning, understanding of concepts and contexts, use of language, and practicing communication skills. Look for ways to enable learners to continue to connect and discuss beyond the face-to-face session.

We rarely grow alone. In fact, some psychologists have made a compelling case that we only grow in connection with others. However, we don’t need to learn with others in formal training or development programs: we can architect our own opportunities to gain insight, knowledge, and skills that move us on an upward trajectory. We can have more control over our learning (at work) if we make building high-quality connections a priority.

Jane E Dutton and Emily Heaphy (Forbes, 12 January) wrote in We learn more when we learn together …

Accessed from 2/2/16
Accessed from 2/2/16

Promote an environment of reflection. Look for a variety of ways and tools to gather feedback

  • For the learners: What else could have helped you? What can you do now that you couldn’t do before? What strategies were helpful or hindrances to your learning?
  • For the Trainer: How effective was that planned learning strategy? What did I notice? Were the performance behaviours better than expected or not?

“But in a world of accelerated change, ………………. An individual must have learning agility – the ability to learn, adapt, and apply in quick cycles.”

Heather McGowern (LinkedIn, 3 January) in Education is not the answer

Opportunities to build skills and knowledge about the foundation skill Learning (for Trainers)

Learning is a complex process. There is much that could be said. If you are seeking more information about Learning, we offer specific strategies within the following webinars:

  • (1 March, 2016) – Teaching tips for TAE trainers delivering and assessing the TAELLN411
  • (8 March) Workshops 2 – Teaching tips for trainers with young adult learners (Gen Y/ Z)
  • (15 March, 2016) – Teaching tips for trainers with ESL learners
  • Webinar 2 Learning from the 6 webinar series

Or access the resources on this site (Instruction Strategies 2 (includes elearning tools/strategies), and Instruction Strategies 3 and 4