Foundational skills are a critical underpinning capability for all education and training. They help ensure that individuals can successfully complete their program of learning. This blog focuses on apprenticeships.

The Reading Writing Hotline is one available support service. They report that apprentices, and their parents, carers and allies, call them distressed because of reading and writing issues. Apprentices are alarmed because “in many situations their bosses have told them that they may lose their job if they don’t improve their foundational skills.” This also may be after the apprentice or trainee has “already completed months or years of hard work, only to be left wondering whether or not they’ll be able to complete their qualification.”

Problems with foundational skills may start at school and so the blog suggests that “support is needed, not blame.” You’d think that employers would only take on those with the foundation skills required, but they may not know what these are, nor are prospective apprentices’ skills tested before they are signed up. So, some “can unfortunately slip through the gaps, leading to potential future issues such as apprenticeship incompletions.”

However, a systematic approach to foundational skills assessment “would allow for skills issues to be discussed and reported to the chosen Registered Training Organisation (RTO).” Then the RTO can step in, opting to provide for additional support.


The blog points out that:

“Support differs by jurisdiction and training provider, so students and job seekers will need to have conversations with RTOs they’re considering, to see the type of support available and whether it will be adequate to support them throughout their Australian Apprenticeship.”

The Reading Writing Hotline is one support service that can be accessed. It provides “information regarding courses to assist with reading, writing and basic maths, as well as access to websites, resources, and helpful workbooks.”

What else is being done?

As the blog points out:

“The National Skills Foundation Framework (currently in draft) sets out a 10-year model for collective action by governments working with stakeholders to improve the foundation skills of Australian adults.”

Pre-apprenticeships can also be helpful in improving foundational skill levels, as well as helping prospective apprentices “gain an understanding of the foundational skills required to work in a particular occupation, get some initial and valuable work experience and start getting a work history.”