The resolutions have been sent to Ministers and Shadow Ministers of the Commonwealth and all state and territory governments. The resolutions read:
“The Summit supports access to and provision of foundational skills for all Australians regardless of age, work status or background, and requests the widespread integration and promotion of the new National Framework for Foundation Skills as a matter of national priority. The Summit notes the anticipated Framework priority to ensure, ‘A productive and inclusive Australia in which adults develop and renew the foundation skills they need to participate confidently in the community and meet the complex demands of modern life.’”
The Summit had highlighted the importance of language, literacy and numeracy (LLN) as well as digital literacy (DL) provision and the fundamentals of employability skills (or LLNDE) delivered in a community context by not-for-profit adult and community education (ACE) providers. The Summit supported all national, state and territory efforts that will enable and support an expanded workforce of appropriately qualified practitioners who can deliver quality foundational skills training.
Specific recommendations included that Commonwealth and state/territory policy-makers recognise the role of ACE providers in supporting adults with low levels of language, literacy and numeracy and other foundational skills by renewing the national Ministerial Declaration on ACE; and supporting and working with the ACE sector to develop robust and holistic outcomes measures.
The resolutions include a request for support the development of foundation skills, in order to provide:
- appropriate guidance to JobActives and Disability Employment Service providers in identifying and linking job seekers with poor Language Literacy Numeracy (LLN) and Digital literacy (DL) with appropriate training/support;
- meaningful language, literacy, numeracy and digital literacy client outcome measures into JobActive contracts;
- incentive payments to job service providers that value and encourage foundational stepping stones;
- plain English information to jobseekers that explain what they can access and why it might be useful;
- broadening the approach to funded curricula for Language, Literacy, Numeracy and Digital Literacy programs;
- funding model consideration, including broadening AMEP style mode of support, such as childcare and volunteer tutoring to be available for literacy learners; and
- consideration of a community and workplace mentor services models – a formal funded mechanism for people to access basic LLNDE services.
The resolutions also request additional Commonwealth, state and territory government action on:
- supported university places for graduate and post-graduate Language, Literacy and Numeracy specialists;
- funding and rollout of a professional development program for foundation skills trainers, incorporating a digital skills stream, to upskill and support trainer assessor skills; and
- assistance for trainers and assessors to undertake professional development, to ensure knowledge of adult language literacy and numeracy as well as appropriate knowledge with Foundation Skills Training Package.
Around three million – one fifth – of working-age Australians have low literacy (43%), numeracy (54%) and digital skills. (OECD Building Skills for all Australians)
The Role of the ACE Sector
“The characteristics of community education providers, such as their relatively small scale and flexibility in teaching strategies, make them particularly suitable for providing foundation skills training.” (NCVER 2020)
“Proportionally more regional community education providers deliver foundational skills training than other regional training providers, although regional ACE enrolments have declined, because of difficulty in securing sufficient funding and appropriately qualified staff.” (NCVER 2020)
“Providers of adult education in community settings are critical to providing diverse foundation skills programs for adults, including through pre-vocational and bridging programs. The ACE sector provides flexible pathways to help learners build their skills and confidence and progress to further learning or employment.” (National Foundation Skills Strategy 2012)
“For many individuals who are not engaged in formal learning, non-accredited education and training can build self-esteem and confidence and can provide a viable pathway into pre-vocational training, education or employment. ACE currently provides a diverse array of vocational and learner interest focused education and training that fosters the development of skills required for individuals to participate fully in their communities and the economy. Australian governments will continue to support purpose-built community-based approaches to delivery through the ACE sector.” (National Foundation Skills Strategy 2012)
“Online learning may be a cost-effective delivery mode for education and training … but is generally not suited to foundation skills training, especially in LLN, because it requires a prerequisite level of literacy and digital literacy. Further, internet access is often poor in regional areas. Traditional class-based, face-to-face teaching was the typical mode of delivery for foundation skills training among survey respondents and interviewees.” (NCVER 2020)
The Foundation Skills Workforce
The resolutions also note that there is an insufficient current supply and pipeline of suitably qualified LLN specialists to deliver foundational skills training, due to factors such as:
- low relative levels of remuneration
- the casualisation of positions
- the ephemeral nature and insecure funding of LLN programs
- the unwillingness/lack of capacity to pay for skilled practitioners
- the Foundation Skills (FSK) training package delivery skill requirements
- the cost of acquiring specialist qualifications
- a lack of clear career pathways, and the absence of quality professional development which inhibits career progression
Download a copy of the final Foundation Skills Resolutions here (PDF).