Foundation skills training and skilling needs in Australia

A new report out this week from The Australian Industry Group: SURVEY REPORT Workforce Development Needs Skilling: A National Imperative tells is an interesting story of where technology, literacy and training are causing a convergence of both need for skilling and opportunity to achieve this.

‘Literacy and Numeracy: with the workforce increasingly requiring foundation skills that include not only literacy and numeracy but digital literacy and advanced soft skills, it is disturbing that 99 per cent of employers are affected in some way by low levels of literacy and numeracy in their workforce. They are dissatisfied with the basic numeracy and literacy levels of over one-fifth of school leaver entrants. It is also a concern that dissatisfaction levels are high for the self-management, planning and organising, problem-solving, initiative and enterprise skills of school leavers.’ Page 3.

Adult literacy has been my industry and passion for 35 years. The need for improved literacy and industry content development with adults has been around forever. There was never a golden age when everyone was literate, but the jobs for those with low literacy levels are fast disappearing and with the advent of AI, will soon disappear altogether.

We cannot abandon people and lose their potential. There’s more to the value of a person than their ability to read and write or to use a computer… but what if we embedded the opportunity to address these needs into every piece of training and engagement they have? It doesn’t have to be targeted ‘literacy’ classes that potentially make people feel ‘less than’ others. Can we not use strategic, left-of-field thinking and innovation to develop training strategies like serious games and games-based training? Combine the industry content learning with teaching the language and literacy of the topic? See an example at: where training package units of competency are reviewed and assessed with participants through simple board games and online activities. Foundation skills of language, literacy and numeracy underpin many of the questions in the games. In the meanwhile participants are also are addressing the content of the unit. The games provide participants with the opportunity to practise skills of team work, negotiation, listening, asserting a position, etc is a safe and moderated environment.

While the serious games can be simple and straightforward - some questions really only addressing the bottom levels of Bloom’s taxonomy (Remember then Understand), if we are to address the needs of the higher levels (apply, analyse, evaluate, create) we need to not just ask questions but provide opportunities for people to engage, think, hash and re-hash ideas and possibilities.

Training needs to be more than turning a page in a training manual, repeating back what the trainer said, and timetabled structured training activities.

Fun, deep, thought-provoking opportunities that draw out innovative and creative thinking can make the time spent more than value for money. They can also achieve multiple outcomes… it's possible. Check out the possibilities.

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