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Electronic Platform for Adult Learning in Europe



Basic Skills within VET: online discussion

by Zsolt Vincze


Basic Skills within VET: online discussion
As part of EPALE’s November focus on vocational education and training (VET) for adults, we would like to hear your views on how best to address poor basic skills within VET.
The discussion organised by the European Basic Skills Network (EBSN) is open to everyone and will take place on this page on 16 November (starting from 10.00 CET) and 17 November 2017. It will be moderated by EBSN Secretary General, Graciela Sbertoli and the EBSN EPALE team.
This online discussion can be seen as preparation for the European Vocational Skills Week. The EBSN will be represented at the main event in Brussels and will convey there the results of this online discussion. Don’t miss the opportunity to share with the EPALE community your experience, views and questions on the topic. We would love to hear:
  • Your experience of managing, teaching or designing VET with a focus on basic skills.
  • How basic skills are addressed within VET in your country.
  • Different models for the integration or embedding of basic skills.
We would also be very interested to read (very) short case studies of VET initiatives which deal effectively with basic skills. Include links to documents and web resources that provide more information. It does not matter if these are not in English.
**Please note that comments may be over several pages. Please refresh the page and scroll to the bottom to click through to comments on other pages.**
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  • Mary FLANAGAN's picture
    I see others are still commenting and I would like to reply to Graciela and Martina, apologies for delay as it is very busy in FET Ireland. I have found this discussion really useful to our current work and it is really very timely. Thank you.

    A way of assessing learners:

    Moira Greene (2015) developed and used the Clare Adult Basic Education Service (CABES) Framework as a tool for teaching and learning.

    This ‘…encourages consideration of five distinct yet interlinked factors that impact on the learning experience: background knowledge, familiarity with texts and technologies (and other learning tools), language practice (verbal and mathematical), social experience, self-awareness. The five factors provide a bridge between theory and practice because they are rooted in theory, yet visible in everyday practice.’

    Greene, M. (2015). The CABES Framework as a tool for teaching and learning’. In The Adult Learner. Dublin: Aontas.

    This view allows non-literacy staff to see how a learner can have many parts to their learning not just reading and writing, maths or IT skills. The importance of seeing how much a learner knows rather than what they don't know and building on this is a good starting point.

    Skills for Work

    Skills for Work in Ireland is an area I don't work in but my FET centre colleague provides the service. The Adult Literacy Organiser meets with local employers and encourages them to offer opportunities to learn to their employees. This can take quite a bit of work and time with setting up appointments and getting access to business people.

    Generally this is worth the effort and a programme can be developed and tailored to meet local needs. It is very suited to small businesses (typical in Ireland) who would not be able to afford to pay for this support. Self employed people are also included: e.g. farmers need to upskill in computers who now have to complete online herd management databases, Taxi drivers need to pass an exam in order to become a taxi driver, our staff have developed mock exams to mimic what people need to learn. These are very popular courses. 

    Staff are trained in literacy and have other skills to deliver on the job e.g.a person with nursing background with literacy skills training delivers an infection control module to ancillary staff working in a health care environment. 

    Retail and customer care skills within a business or stock control skills happening live in a busy supermarket, makes the learning very real, relevant and immediately useful. Putting Knowles theory of Andragogy into action.

    County Councils and larger employers who tended to send higher paid, more educated staff on regular in-service training are offering lower paid, less qualified staff a range of courses to suit their needs through skills for work: computer skills, use of chemicals in professional gardening etc.

  • Graciela Sbertoli's picture
    ... are really very appreciated. Thanks, Blathnaid! Let's continue the discussion in the Community of Practice now! See you there! Community of Practice on Basic Skills in VET.
  • Algimanta Sciglinskiene's picture
    Good evening dear Graciela, 

    Thank You for attention and nice answer...
    "Brain drain" is really important question for employers. Here in Lithuania from 20 until  26t'h of November we have Adult Educational Week for attraction attention to POWER of ADULT LEARNING and CHARM of LEARNING.  We organize this week together with Lithuanian Adult Education Association in all Lithuania already eighteen years. Lithuanian ministry of Education and Science, Education support agency of Lithuania and EPALE support this week too. So, in South Lithuania (it is mine region) I am coordinator and we will have opening forum on 20th of November in economic centre of south Lithuania - Alytus. Here I am organizing the special opening Forum with "BRAIN BATTLE" as format of event.  Here is prepared open questions between POLICYMAKERS-EDUCATORS-EMPLOYERS. The point of event: CAN WE MOVE TO THE BETTER LIFE  THROUGH LEARNING... under the title "POWER OF LEARNING AND JOY".  I hope will be interesting to all participants of this forum. I will USE YOUR QUESTION and will put on the program...THANK YOU
  • Blathnaid Ni Chinneide's picture
    Hello colleagues

    TheIn Ireland many providers in different VET contexts and programmes are working to integrate language, literacy and vocational learning. Here are some links to videos where VET managers, teachers and learners in different contexts describe some of the approaches they find useful:
    Normal 0 false false false EN-IE X-NONE X-NONE MicrosoftInternetExplorer4   (Integrating language, literacy and numeracy into Post Leaving Certificate courses: FE College)

    (Integrating LLN with vocational training:  Apprenticeships)

     (Integrating LLN with vocational and other learning in a youth training and development context)


  • Graciela Sbertoli's picture
    EPALE is after all a multilingual platform, so that, even though it is clear the conversation is in English, I guess we can accept input in other languages, as long as someone can sum up what the contribution is about.

    Rosa mentions that gathering basic education and vocational training in the same center enables cooperation between the sectors and enriches the practice in both. She also mentions two important issues that we haven't, as far as I have seen, mentioned in this discussion so far: ocupational therapy for people with discapacities, and the very important issue of meeting the training needs of newly arrived immigrant to Europe.

    Thank you for your contribution, Rosa. Let's continue discussing these issues in the Community of Practice!
  • Helen Casey's picture
    Hi Graciela, Could I just clarify what you mean when you say 'dual system model'? Do you mean using separate experts for the different subject areas? (this is the one we found to be effective) Or do you mean what I described as the 'dual responsibility' of one teacher 'doing-it-all'?
  • Rosa M. Falgàs's picture
    Des del meu punt de vista i experiència crec que separem la formació professional de la formació bàsica. La meva experiència de 40 anys en la formació d'adults em porta a afirmar que el que cal no és tractar aquests aprenentatges diferents a la formació bàsica.
    En el meu país una cosa són els Centres de Formació reglada per adults i l'altra són els Centres Ocupacionals. A Girona tenim una experiència molt interessant, però que cal millorar i és disposar en el mateix Centre /Espai, la formació reglada per adults i la formació ocupacional.
    D'aquesta manera els dos tipus d'aprenentatges es poden enriquir i/o complementar. Unim esforços i facilitem l'accés als diferents aprenentatges.
    També cal potenciar la formació i ocupació de persones amb trastorns mentals. Moltes de les malalties es poden millorar i donar millor qualitat de vida si sabem adaptar la formació i la ocupació a aquest col·lectiu de persones. Un exemple el tenim a Girona amb la Fundació DRISSA. 
    Un altre exemple que ha de ser prioritari és la formació dels nouvinguts. Persones que necessiten ser alfabetitzats ja que fins i tot són analfabets en la seva pròpia llengua i que alhora necessiten aprendre una professió. No podem separar aquests dos tipus de formació en espais diferents. Cal que estiguin relacionats.

  • Graciela Sbertoli's picture
    Dear all,

    Thank you for a very fruitful discussion. I am particularly thankful for the concrete ideas, resources, and links that have come up, and we at the EBSN promise we will make good use of them.

    After 5 pm the discussion will no longer be moderated, but you are free to continue posting here. 

    We would also like to invite you to continue the discussion in the recently created Community of Practice on Basic Skills in VET.

    See you there, I hope!

  • Graciela Sbertoli's picture
    Thank you for that, Helen. Important remindeer. For more learner voices, watch the video Jan Evensen has given us the link to. Several learner voice there, and translated to English!
  • Helen Casey's picture
    We know that it's the vocational learning that is often the motivator for learners, with improving basic skills often as something that has to happen along the way. So I just thought I'd add a learner voice contribution of how one person felt when the teamwork wasn't happening (and I suspect there may also have been an absence of mutual respect in the mix here as well):
    0 0 1 45 257 IOE 2 1 301 14.0 Normal 0 false false false EN-GB JA X-NONE

    “It is clear that our basic skills teacher knows nothing about our vocational course, so then how can they help us make sure we succeed in our course? I mean, that is what we are here for. Our vocational teacher tries to help us with our basic skills work, but it is clear they don’t work together.”