Between April 2016 and February 2017, the first trainers were trained in Austria to deliver basic skills training in the workplace. This took place within the context of the project ‘T ABA’ or ‘Training of trainers for basic skills training in the workplace’, which was financed with support from the European Social Fund (ESF) and the Austrian Federal Ministry of Education and carried out by the BFI vocational training institute.
Why is there a need for basic skills training in the workplace?
Studies such as the Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC) show that there are a high percentage of people in Europe who have basic skills needs: according to this study, too many people cannot read and comprehend texts to an adequate level, cannot solve everyday maths problems or cannot solve problems on a computer. The basic skills needs of Austrian adults are average for Europe. The task of motivating these adults to attend catch-up training represents a major challenge across the whole of Europe.
However, as in other European countries, around 60% of low-skilled workers in Austria are also in employment. Their jobs are more precarious than those of their skilled colleagues, for example due to increasing digitalisation, but they can be easily reached and can receive further training at their places of work. Training sessions that are held in the workplace lower the barriers to entry for learners. Companies are interested partners in this – this is the current assumption at least.
Keys to success of basic skills training in the workplace
In September 2015, an online discussion was hosted on EPALE on the topic of ‘basic skills training in the workplace’. It was organised by the European Basic Skills Network (Netzwerk EBSN) and moderated by employees of the German research and consultancy organisation (Büro für berufliche Bildungsplanung, bbb). The starting points were the indicators of achievement for the implementation work for workplace-oriented basic skills training that were identified in the Straighten Basic Skills project. The discussion mainly showed the following:
Basic skills training in the workplace requires tailored training offerings with a very clear link to the workplace. Companies first need to be persuaded, in their own language. Evidence is not always enough to persuade them – it may be necessary to meet the costs of the learning opportunities. In some projects, companies are even compensated for employees’ lost working time as a result of attending the training.
Experience from a large number of projects has also shown that a great deal of publicity work, networking and cultivation of contacts is necessary to open up the commercial sector for basic skills training. Key individuals are also a crucial success factor; these include works councils or ‘company contacters’, who act as interfaces between companies and training providers. Basic skills trainers with specific training are mainly used to deliver the training but this is by no means the case everywhere.
T ABA as a response to specific skills requirements
Between April 2016 and February 2017, trainers were trained in Austria for the first time specifically to deliver basic skills training in the workplace. The ‘T ABA’ course gave adult educators the necessary expertise to implement basic skills training directly in companies or in another work-related context.
The tasks of basic skills trainers in and in conjunction with companies include identifying companies’ requirements, analysing employees’ existing skills, agreeing common learning objectives and implementing learning opportunities together with employees. Austrian training offerings take account of the principles for basic skills training offerings laid down in the corresponding programme planning document for the ‘Adult Education Initiative’ (Initiative Erwachsenenbildung) support programme. In practice, this means a strong focus on participants, promoting learners’ autonomy and encouraging reflection, and also applying a critical approach to existing knowledge during training. These are all things that are not necessarily part of training in companies.
An exchange of experiences between vocational training and basic skills training
Another unique feature of the T ABA course was the make-up of its participants. It was attended by trainers from vocational training and also by experienced basic skills trainers. Following a joint introductory module, the course was split as follows: the vocational trainers gained expertise on basic skills training while the basic skills trainers familiarised themselves with content related to vocational training. Tools for analysing requirements, analysing skills and planning learning objectives formed part of the content for both groups. In a practical phase, participants identified occupation-specific job profiles, drew up corresponding lists of skills and job-shadowed trainers. The mutual exchange of experiences between the two groups proved particularly productive.
The key data
The ‘Training of trainers for basic skills training in the workplace’ (T ABA) was piloted using a curriculum that had been specially developed and was held for the first time in Linz and Innsbruck between April 2016 and February 2017. The T ABA training was supported by the BFI for Upper Austria in cooperation with the BFI for Carinthia, the BFI for the Tyrol and the Research Institute for Vocational Training and Adult Education at the Johannes Kepler University Linz. The pilot course was free of charge, comprised 160 teaching units and was held as work-based training attended by 16 participants.
Author/Editing of original article in German: Birgit Aschemann/CONEDU
Image: CC0 Public Domain Maret Hosemann/pixabay.com | workshop-1726679_1280.jpg | Bearbeitung: B.Aschemann