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Basic skills – an essential basis for further development

We frequently very quickly run through the topics related to basic skills, without paying attention to their contents. We do not regard with criticism the essence of basic skills, not even the phrase referring to their essence. We actually frequently reject these contents as uninteresting for ourselves, as we think that we have all required basic skills. The first and the basic question – what the basic skills are – a number of us may be caught up and captured in a trap of an apparently very familiar thing. It is actually the thinking of the basic skills which makes us think about the essence not the form. These skills are the ground for the development of intelligence in early age, they influence the development of self-confidence and the overall condition of our body.

It all starts from a usual movement. The essence of life and development of the whole human species is in the movement! If we ask ourselves how much we move, what is our physical condition like, we usually pause and perhaps go into a deep analysis which will open completely new topics for contemplation. We will close the circle by our personal cognition of the lack of our own physical and mental condition. Are they reversible? Undoubtedly YES!

So, what are the basic skills? They are the generator of all upgrades and changes in our personal and professional life. They are the foundation without which we cannot start our development pathway. Functional basic skills are contained predominantly in associative learning. With their help, our learning is developed and our capabilities are improved to successfully tackle the requests of the environment we live in. Their functional character refers to the knowledge related to what we know and how we can do something, and the like.

The significance of the basic skills and their evident lack are witnessed by numerous European guidelines, recommendations and resolutions aimed at influencing the governments of the EU member states and EU member candidates to activate special measures in their national policies with the aim of strengthening basic skills of the overall population. In line with one of the important documents which is the basis of numerous planning and strategic documents in adult education “European Agenda for Adult learning“, PIAAC, „The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development“, basic skills of adults involve: reading, writing, language knowledge, numeracy and digital skills. Some of the goals mentioned in this document are the following:

  • To encourage professional development, employment possibility, national economic competitiveness;
  • To reduce social inequality, increase social inclusion, cohesion, civic awareness, mental and physical health;
  • To adjust the programmes of development of basic skills at workplace to the employees and employers;
  • To emphasize key quality programmes with the contents from the neighbourhood;
  • To organize specialized trainings for well-trained teachers;
  • To conduct specialized guidance, clear path of the progress, accreditation and certification of prior learning
  • To use IT technologies and “OER Revolution“

Basic skills are the basis for employment and adequate behaviour in working environment. The development of the basic skills at workplace (WG AL 2016-2018 Work Place Learning) entails a wide concept without specific orientation in learning. Workplace is an important setting for learning, both for skills relevant for the job and the competences that make people ready for the changes in career and life. Workplace may be very motivating for low-skilled people for the development of their basic skills.

At this moment, institutions of the system have to be committed to integrate the issue of the basic skills as the top priority in adult education policy. This is also indicated by the figures and the data of ELINET (European Literacy Policy Network), that 55 million people, aged between 16 and 65, have the problem with reading and writing PIAAC research (2015)  shows that 20% - 25% Europeans do not own the skills which are the pre-requisite for employment, retention of employment and continuation of education. In the population of adult persons able to work (aged between 16 and 65), 43% demonstrated moderate or high level of literacy in the EU member states that took part in PIAAC research. This is considerably below OECD average (49 %), one of five adult persons in the EU member states that took part in the research demonstrated low level of skills in the area of literacy, while in the area of numeracy, this ration is even one of four.

In general conclusion, we may state that it is really necessary to ensure the development of the basic skills for the unemployed, but also for the employed at risk from the loss of the job, and in such purpose to involve all relevant stakeholders, predominantly social partners with the assurance and active promotion of learning programmes at workplace.

In order to obtain the power to manage our knowledge and skills, by primarily recognizing our educational needs, it is necessary to pay attention to our basic skills and their functional character!

Author: Olivera Markovic, EPALE ambasador

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