FOUNDATION SKILLS

Foundation Skills

What are foundation skills?

Definitions vary and it is important to think about what it means in your workplace.

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All job tasks include foundation skills. The significance of each of these skills will vary in respect to job roles and the strengths of individuals. What is most significant can change over time and when people change jobs. These skills are essential for people to have the ability to transfer their skills and adapt to changes in job requirements such as the higher order skills associated with technology and systems of work. Foundation skills apply to job roles at all levels.

There are some key words and phrases that can indicate where foundation skills are required and need to be considered in the relevant vocational context.

Click here for an example of a trigger word/key phrase glossary.

There is also a free on line library of language, literacy and numeracy training and professional development videos available

The glossary and short videos are a useful starting point for considering foundation skills in the context of your workplace or business.

Other resources developed by TLISC can be accessed in the relevant section below.


Terminology and frameworks

  • Language, literacy and numeracy (or LL&N), has been used for many years to refer to the ability to speak, listen, read and write in English, as well as to use mathematical concepts.
  • Core skills is the term used in the Australian Core Skills Framework (ACSF), which specifies levels for the five skills of learning, reading, writing, oral communication and numeracy.
  • Foundation skills is the term that Australian Government agencies have begun to use to include the five core skills (defined by the ACSF), plus employability skills.
  • The Foundation Skills Training Package includes the five core skills (defined by the ACSF) plus digital literacy and employability skills.
  • The new standards for training packages refer to the language, literacy and numeracy and employment skills essential to performance.

Government Policy Initiatives

National Foundation Skills Strategy for Adults

  • The National Foundation Skills Strategy for Adults was developed in response to Australia relative poor performance in international; language, literacy and numeracy surveys. The strategy was released in 2012 based on the need for a national focus on improving the foundation skills of working age Australians “..in which adults develop and maintain the foundation skills they need to participate confidently in the modern economy and meet the complex demands of modern life”.
  • Priority action areas include building the capacity of the education and training workforces to deliver foundation skills . The requirement for VET practitioners to complete the adult LLN unit (TAELLN401A or TAE LLN411A – Address adult LLN skills) as part of acquiring/retaining the Certificate IV in Training and Education is part of this action area.

The National Foundation Skills Strategy Project (NFSS) 2014-2015 is a joint initiative by Australian governments to support priority action areas from the National Foundation Skills Strategy for Adults. For details about the project , including reports, communities of practice and case studies, please refer to www.statedevelopment.sa.gov.au/skills/national-foundation-skills-strategy-project.


Foundation Skills Training Package

  • This Training Package was endorsed in February 2013 and contains units to support critical skills requirements in vocational units. The training package defines foundation skills as five core skills (defined by the ACSF) plus digital literacy and employability skills.
  • The summary matrix from this training package is a good outline of practical considerations relating to foundation skills.

Click here to download PDF of The Foundation Skills Training Package Summary Matrix.

Examples of resources, including easy to use video segments, which support the Foundation Skills Training Package can be found here –

In response to government policy initiatives TLISC, like all ISCs have undertaken a combination of research, communication and resource development projects to establish support strategies for addressing foundation skills generally, and the implementation of the new training package.


TLISC Foundation Skills Resources include -

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Making the Connections (now available)

A resource for industry based VET trainer/assessors who have little or limited awareness of the increasing emphasis on identifying and addressing LLN issues in the competency based training and assessment framework.

The material is based on “Making the Connections”, a resource initially developed by The Manufacturing Industry Skills Council to address the needs of VET trainers in preparing for new requirements in accordance with government policy.


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Three Steps to Core Skill Support (now available)

This resource models a 3-step process that any VET trainer can use to support LLN skill development. While tailored to vocational trainers delivering TLI10 qualifications at AQF levels 1 and 2, and in particular units from TLI21610 Certificate II in Warehousing Operations, the resource can be used in a range of industry contexts. Find out how to provide LLN support and build successful course outcomes, as well as how FSK Foundation Skill Training Package units can support TLI10 delivery.


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Meetings on Track (now available)

This WELL resource consists of a DVD with supporting material in a facilitators guide & learners guide on CD all of which are flexible enough for use and adaptation in many sectors. where workplace information briefings are required.

  • 500 copies are available free of charge.

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Communicating Well Resource (now available)

This is a practical resource consisting of learner guides and a trainers or workplace mentor guide for a training program covering the main topics in the following units of competency from the TLI10 Transport and Logistics Training Package –

  • TLID1001A Shift materials safely using manual handling methods
  • TLIE1003A Participate in basic workplace communication
  • TLIF1001A Follow occupational health and safety procedures

The trainer or mentors guide has been developed for group or individual instruction and can be used either on or off the job. There are sample documents to assist in the planning for the three units of competency – delivery plans, training plans and sample session plans. The examples of assessment tasks include activities and tips for gauging the foundation skills levels of learners.

The resource includes practical ideas and material to help ensure training programs which incorporate language, literacy and numeracy support for learners is effective, practical and relevant to both the learner groups and the vocational outcomes to be achieved.

The Communicating WELL Learner Guides and the the Trainer or Mentor Guide can be accessed here:


Australian Core Skills Framework Mapping Project

The Australian Core Skills Framework (ACSF) is a tool which defines and specifies performance levels for the five core skills of learning, reading, writing, oral communication and numeracy. This framework provides a common basis for communicating about the core skills which is flexible enough to apply to people, job roles and learning and assessment materials.

A cross section of units of competency in training packages have been mapped to the ACSF and used to practically demonstrate how language used in training packages can indicate the nature and level of core skills required. The analysis has also shown that these outcomes are of limited value on their own because job roles relating to the same units of competency can have completely different foundation skills demands.

This project has informed the Foundation Skills project and the TLISC approach to the implementation of the new standards for training packages.

Click here for the ACSF Performance Variables Grid.

Click here for an example of an ACSF trigger word/key phrase glossary.

A full copy of the ACSF can be downloaded here.

Marianne Wehby
Marianne Wehby
Industry Intelligence – Engagement Manager