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Basic Skills within VET: online discussion

Profile picture for user Zsolt Vincze.
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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Themes addressed


Wed, 11/22/2017 - 21:19

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.

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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:   (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)


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Rosa M. Falgàs
Fri, 11/17/2017 - 16:35

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.

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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!
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Profile picture for user Graciela Sbertoli EBSN.
Graciela Sbertoli
Fri, 11/17/2017 - 16:32

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!

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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):

“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.” 

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In amongst the many really interesting contributions to this discussion, there have been a number of examples of different kinds of tools and materials for teachers, which are of huge value to teachers engaged in integrating basic skills into vocational and workplace learning. Looking back at the NRDC research however, I was reminded that this area was only one of the four identified in the research as being key to success. These groups were:
  1. Features of teaching and learning

  2. Teamwork

  3. Staff understanding and values

  4. Organisational characteristics 

    Features of teaching and learning include contextualised materials, analysis of the basic skills demands of a vocational area and so on. But the other three were equally important. Teamwork is something I have touched on in other comments, it's about having time to work together. The third group is more intangible, to do with attitudes and values and the last is to do with organisational policies and structures. Fairly obvious perhaps, but still important. If an organisation is not committed to developing basic skills as part of vocational training development, then many organisational features can get in the way. The least tangible may also be one of the most important: teachers need to have mutual respect and understanding for one another's expertise and field of specialism. 

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One theme that has emerged from the discussion is that of tutor expertise. But can a single tutor 'do it all"? 
In the NRDC research referenced yesterday, we collected information on participating teachers' qualifications and experience for inclusion in the analysis. The conclusion was clear: where learners were taught basic skills by 'dual-responsibility' teachers, the learners were twice as likely to be unsuccessful in their basic skills assessments. These dual-responsibility teachers were mostly vocational tutors taking additional responsibility for teaching basic skills. We did find a small number of exceptional, dual-qualified teachers, with deep expertise in both subject areas but their contribution was outweighed in the quantitative analysis. Overall, learners taught by dual-responsibility teachers were less likely to be successful. What matters is for teachers with different expertise to find ways to work effectively together in the best interests of the learners.

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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'?
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Ramon Mangion
Community Collaborator (Silver Member).
Fri, 11/17/2017 - 13:48

First of all I would like to introduce myself. I am an EPALE ambassador for Malta and I am also the Curriculum Administrator of Malta's largest public vocational colleege (MCAST). Unfortunately this will end up being a very long post if I give all the details . Hence I will try to provide a succinct overview of some key points and provide appropriate links. 

As specified in the Referencing report pages 57-589 (available at… ). VET qualifications at Levels 1-5 on the Malta Qualifications framework are to include a number of credits targeting the development of key competences as defined by the European Commission. These are targeted towards employability and personal fulfilment and are to be alongside sector specific training. This includes
1. Communication in  the mother tongue
2. Communicating in foreign languages
3. Mathematical competence and basic competences in Science and Technology
4. Digital Competence
5. Learning to learn
6. Interpersonal, intercultural and social competences, civic competence
7. Enterpreneurship
8. Cultural Expression

Guidelines are also provided in terms of the percentage distribution of key competences, sectoral skills and underpinning knowledge and the different MQF Levels. For example at MQF Level 1, it is expected that 70% is dedicated towards key competences, 15 % towards Sectoral Skills and 15% towards underpinning knowledge.

The premise is that as one goes up the levels, the percentage dedicated towards key competences decreases , hence for example whilst it is at 70% for  MQF Level 1, this goes down to 10% for MQF Level 5

Overall there are various approaches that can be adopted depending on the level being targeted. The embedding of such basic skills into vocational subjects is an effective method at the lower levels. Entrepreneurship is typically linked with real life practical applications and projects.

Interest can also be generated for learners, through interactive delivery and various assessment methods.

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Graciela Sbertoli
Fri, 11/17/2017 - 13:55

In reply to by Ramon Mangion

Thanks a lot for your contribution, Ramon! You have indeed managed to give us a good overview of your system without getting too long! I am particularly interested in the oercentage distribution, which I find must be a good guideline. What I wonder about, though, is the specific place of functional literacy i=within the training in "Communication in mother tongue". In my experience, far too many educators are still assuming that a good level of literacy is acquired after the first three years of basic schooling... What is your experience in Malta?
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Hi Ramon,

thank you for referring to the Referencing Report and highlighting the link between the Key Competence Framework (javascript:nicTemp();) and the Malta Qualifications Framework. In fact they nearly fit exactly the 8 key competences put forward in this framework:

  • Communication in the mother tongue;
  • Communication in foreign languages;
  • Mathematical competence and basic competences in science and technology;
  • Digital competence;
  • Learning to learn;
  • Social and civic competences;
  • Sense of initiative and entrepreneurship; and
  • Cultural awareness and expression
On the issue of basic skills and the role of VET the current review of this framework came to my mind and to what extent it is being used in other countries for initiatives like the upskilling pathways and conceptualising adult learning. I was also wondering how many countries have tried to link the Key Competences Framework to their National Qualifications Framework with regard to the knowledge, skills and competences linked to a specific level of education?

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Fri, 11/17/2017 - 13:18

We in FØNIX are working on an Erasmus+ project on the theme Basic Skills in working life combined with VET together with partners from Austria, Portugal, Slovenia, Italy and UK.

The web site of the project is still under construction, but I would like to draw you attention to the first report from the project; The national perspective. (Enclosed in bottom of this text.)

On page 5 in this report we describe a very good system from Norway called "Practice Candidate". 

This system allows adult workers in Norway, who have versatile practice experience within a trade, to take a craft or trade certificate examination without having attended school or apprenticeship. 

This arrangement is called “practice candidate”. The certification arrangement involves no formal training, but the adult need to have a documentation of at least 5 years practice from the trade. After passing a  theoretical test that is organized two times a year, they receive a formal Trade Certificate in their trade based on their former experience.

This is the formal background for how the employees at Jotun paint factory got their Trade Certificate in the video I posted yesterday.

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Thanks for this, Jan. It is indeed a very interesting point. I seem to remember that there are currently some pilot projects going on to apply the model to adults that, owing to having worked only part time, cannor document 5 years of experience. Do you know anything about this? I'll try to find documentation.
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Indeed Jan, good that you mentioned Erasmus+!

Erasmus+ and its predecessor programmes have funded many projects and partnerships which looked at aspects of teaching basics skills, literacy, numeracy, digital and others, both in the context of VET and adult education. By browsing and searching the database of projects you will find information on relevant projects and links to their results.


Furthermore, the 2018 Erasmus+ call for proposals has been published.

This provides possibilities for those of you interested in improving basic skills learning by developing teacher competences, or teaching materials, courses, etc. to get together and propose new projects. All you need is a good idea and partners from at least three countries.

Funding is available for strategic partnerships both in the adult education strand, but also the vocational education and training stand, and don't forget to explore what is available for higher education institutions.

Similarly, staff in your organisations or staff providing basic skills can benefit from Erasmus+ mobility. Kay Activity 1, which covers mobility, including staff mobility in the adult education sector, offers organisations the possibility to send staff to another country on a training course, or simply to spend a few days shadowing a teacher in another country and observing their work, and exchanging ideas.


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Graciela Sbertoli
Fri, 11/17/2017 - 14:50

In reply to by Martina NI CHEALLAIGH

Thank you for this reminder, Martina. Yes, there are many good resurces out there, which have been produced by different Erasmus+ projects. We at the EBSN will try to gather all the pearls, particularly those that have proved sustainable and adequate. This is quite a task, and ALL types of help are very welcome. If you know of resources that should be included in a collection of Open Educational Resources on Basic Skills and VET, please write to me at

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Fri, 11/17/2017 - 10:55

 Good morning!

Graciela was asking about different approaches yesterday. In Ireland, Skills for Work is a national programme aimed at providing training opportunities to help employees deal with the basic skills demands of the workplace. The initiative is funded by the Irish Government under the Department of Education and Skills, and delivered by the newly formed Education & Training Boards (ETB) across the country.


Important here is that the programme is offered on company premises where possible, otherwise it is at the local ETB Adult Education Centre, or an alternative convenient location.

Perhaps someone who deals with this programme could explain to us what the procedure is when the learning takes place at the company. Is learning basic skills part of a broader vocational programme? Is the learning embedded in work? Who are the teachers and trainers in that case?

Maybe Mary could give us some insights?

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... seem to have been cooperating in an initiative that has got the European prize? Or have I got it wrong? Yes, please, we want to hear much more about this Irish initiative! Thanks a lot for this, Martina!
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Christianne Fenech
Fri, 11/17/2017 - 10:19

Hi all, 

Thanks for the very interesting comments that are being made. 
EU Agenda for Adult Learning has outlined the importance of work place learning/on the job training in order to tackle basic skills at the place of work. 

The success of any work based learning instance is very much dependent on the skills of the tutor delivering the course. Standardised training for adult basic skills educators does not currently exist in Malta. This would be a major obstacle, when attempting to increase employer and employee engagement with basic skills courses in the work place. Work place delivery of basic skills requires a specific skills set, additional to more general proficiency in adult tuition.

With regards to this, we have just partnered up with our Rosemarie from bbb in Germany and other colleagues across Europe to really work and improve our knowledge on how we can provide a more coordinated approach to the topic. In my opinion, Malta has a strong appetite for addressing basic skills and the creation of such training manual (as one of the outputs of our 'Professionalization of trainers in work related basic skills') will help address some of the gaps that can be currently found in our systems. 

Looking forward for more collaborative sessions such as this. 

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Thanks a lot, Christianne! This is really good news. Among other things, it means that those excellent German materials Rosemarie was telling us about will actually soon be translated into English? Or are you translating to Maltese? We would love to hear more about your first experiences! Stay tuned!
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Christianne Fenech
Fri, 11/17/2017 - 10:55

In reply to by Graciela Sbertoli

We shall try and translate documents to Maltese too once finalised. I will be posting updates on the topic and how Malta is faring on the topic. Thanks 
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Rosemarie Klein
Fri, 11/17/2017 - 08:04

Hello and good morning,

I am very late as I was out oft he office yesterday, but this morning I followed the interesting discussion and would like to contribute.

Our experiences show that work-based basic skills training as a vocational training offer has proved itself as a significant way to reach employees without vocational qualification, with migration background and non-recognised vocational qualificationsand in the receiving field employed refugees for a development of their basic competencies. A variety of projects and implementation strategies have generated empirical findings on this innovative training field on how access to companies and employees, work-based learning and competence development can be designed and which organizational conditions promote this business field. It has been shown that if strategies for continuing education are to be successful for unskilled workers, work-based learning must be professionally designed. Based on this idea we recently started a ERASUS+ project that aimes on the development of a professionalization concept for trainers, which I mentioned in the Blog yesterday.

bbb since several years coordinates a network of trainers and teachers of work based basic skills, offers professionalisation studies for trainers and teachers that are interested in work based basic skills training and at the moment develops a toolbox with basic information, good practices, marketing material and didactic-methodic tools covering the process of a – as we call it – work based basic skills project with a company.

As Cäcilia already pointed out: the work based basic skills training offers need to be  tailored to the needs of employee and company, be individualized and oriented to changing requirements on the basic competencies of the workforce. To our experience one of main challenges for trainers is, that the learning offers are derived from concrete work and aim at the improvement of labor action.


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Good morning, Rosemarie, and very welcome to this discussion! After reading your blog and your contribution here, I wonder if you could give us a couple of examples of the competences you are training your trainers in, and more important, how you train them. Is there a specific item from your training tool box you could direct us to? I realize it will be in German and I know you are busy and will not be able to translate or write a summary, but perhaps some other German speaking participant could do that... You know, we are eager to see concrete examples of learning resources for trainers in this field! Thank you in advance!
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I'd like to add here a reference to a very concrete tool that has been developed by Skills Norway. It is a series of resources called the Basic Job Skills Profiles. They are a tool meant to facilitate the design of basic skills courses tailored to the needs of each work place and individual learner. The profiles describe how each of the basic skills are used by workers in a particular occupation. The profiles are based on the competence goals.

Through the use of these profiles, employers can get an overview of the skills that need to be strengthened and workers can increase their awareness about their need for further training in literacy, numeracy, oral communication and digital competence.

Creating own profiles

Below, you will find an English translation the profiles Vox has created in cooperation with various enterprises, organizations and teachers. The best profiles, however, are those that have been tailored to each individual situation, taking into account a concrete case and adapting them to each individual need. These examples are meant as an inspiration for course providers, who can develop their own adaptations to create courses that are really relevant to the needs of the participants.

Download the profiles and get inspired.

Basic job skills for bus drivers
Basic job skills for canteen assistants
Basic job skills for carpenters
Basic job skills for cleaners
Basic job skills for electricians
Basic job skills for forklift drivers
Basic job skills for heavy equipment operators
Basic job skills for HSE in the construction industry
Basic job skills for kindergarten assistants
Basic job skills for long distance transport workers
Basic job skills for personal care assistants
Basic job skills for plumbers
Basic job skills for premises technicians
Basic job skills for retail assistants
Basic job skills for tinsmiths
Basic job skills for warehouse workers

The profiles can also be used to create awareness tests/ self tests for the trainees. Listing all the "literacy actions" that are relevant to the occupation in one column, and adding three columns headed by "very skilled", "moderately skilled", "needs training", providers can encourage potential trainees to self-evaluate, and they can also measure progression. You will find examples in Norwegian of these templates here, under "Profiler Excel"

Another Skills Norway tool that is worth noting here, is the Guidelines for the Competence Goals. This is addressed to training providers.

We are eager to know of similar tools, whatever the language they are in!

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D•       Hello, you are right, everything is in German language, but  I can show, what our objectives are

understanding and contents of work based basic skills

       role of trainers and quality aspects on work based basic skills trainings

       quality aspects and assurance on work-based basic skills trainings

       market analyses for identifying sectors and regions with needs

       gaining relevant stakeholders for the information and the sensitization of companies

       establishing access to / approach of companies and target groups (low skilled employees)

       identifying needs and resources for work-based basic skills training within the company and employees

       didactical aspects on workbased learning regarding contents like digital competences, basic skills, nummeracy competences, literacy, health competencies...

       realization of workbased learning at the workplace: didactics, methodology, learning arrangements

       offering various formats of work based basic skills trainings

       action approaches and roles of trainers: Consulting of companies, training, learning process support

       Learning transfer assurance and evaluation

       Public relation


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Rosemarie Klein
Fri, 11/17/2017 - 10:00

In reply to by Graciela Sbertoli

Our first professionalization concept was published in German language and as the development was done on an public funded project it is OER. I should find it on one of our websites and send the link later. 
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Hi Rosemarie, 
I love your use of the term 'work based basic skills project with a company'. It manages to encapsulate so much of the way in which everything has to be tailored (as you and others have noted) to the particular needs of a particular company and within that to the particular needs of an individual employee within a particular job role. When this is allowed to flow, the rewards to company productivity can be substantive as well as the clear benefits to individual employees. You also speak in a later post of the 'high degree of creative freedom' needed 'to implement the courses in a participatory and process-oriented manner'. In my experience tutors really have to get 'under the skin' of an organisation to understand how basic skills competences are being used in workplace practices in order to design effective learning solutions.
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I totally agree with you both, Helen and Rosemarie. In the Norwegian SkillsPlus program (formerly called BCWL, Basic Competence in Working Life), we found quite early in the process how time consuming that can be for the tutor. We needed to ask providers to make provision for that time, to really engage with both the workers and their leaders and adapt both the structure of the course, the methods and the learning resources to the real needs of each work place. It takes time, but it makes the learning process so much efficient and motivating.
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Algimanta Sciglinskiene
Thu, 11/16/2017 - 21:29


I am Algimanta from Lithuania. So, I am working in Business Advisory Service Center and in EPALE  platform too. During the mine working life experience, very important that education would be addapted to our real life and needs.

Vocational education is directly related to the industry and its development, therefore, we anticipated changes in the system of vocational education and initiated them for a long time. 

Attention to promoting meaningful decisions in education is a very important sign for Business Community.  There is a need for urgent attention for restructuring in the vocational education system for a number of reasons.

FIRST, the wave of the FOURTH INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION has flourished in the Lithuanian industry by encouraging the digitization of factories. Given the lack of qualified professionals, digitization is the only way to remain competitive on European markets.

SECOND, at the same time, in changing industries, people with digital skills and competences are becoming more and more worthwhile.

However, people who have not yet been working in the industry as a standard and have not acquired digital skills is more than 50%, therefore their qualification and retraining is very important today.

The business needs more qualified employees now and in the future. That means - to provide the necessary and attractive conditions for peoples  to become such and to ensure that when choosing a vocational education, they will not be able to make a decision to emigrate afterwards without finding an opportunity to realize acquired competences that are no longer valid in Lithuania.

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Good morning, Algimanta, and very welcome to this discussion! You make some very interesting points. The rapid digitalization of our industries is a challenge to practically all European countries today, although the percentage of unqualified work force in your country is a bit impressive. In many countries we are finding that companies want courses in digital skills for their employers, but when the courses begin the trainers discover that there are serious lacks of functional literacy as well. Courses that combine literacy, digital skills and upskilling in vocational skills, must be the solution, but they are challenging to design and implement. We would like to hear examples from other countries in Europe regarding organizational and didactic models for such courses.

Another point I find very interesting is your concern about "brain drain", the risk that workers that have been trained and have acquired qualifications will then leave the country looking for better salaries. What strategies do employers use to avoid this? 
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Just a quick note in response to your 'brain drain' question Graciela. My ex-colleague Professor Alison Wolf insisted that despite employers worrying that if they trained staff they might then lose them, the converse was actually true. From research she had done on workplace training, employees who had had the opportunity to train at work were more likely to stay with the employer, rather than leaving as their employers may have feared. So maybe it is simply a myth? 
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I hope you are right, Helen, but I fear that may depend a bit on the general salary level in the country compared to salaries available in other European countries... I guess that may be the case in Lithuania, although I cannot be sure, of course.
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Yes I'm sure there are always exceptions but interesting nonetheless that Alison found a mismatch between employer beliefs/fears on this one and the reality of staff turnover and attitudes. 
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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
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Thu, 11/16/2017 - 20:07

Good evening to all involved in the discussion today. I was away from my computer all day so this is a late response. It has been interesting to read the comments and discussion up to now. In Ireland the Further Education and Training (FET) sector (similar to Vocational Education and Training in other countries), aims to Integrate Literacy, Language and Numeracy (ILLN) across all strands of Further Education and Training. We are at the beginning of this journey and have developed in our local area a framework on ILLN and are working on an implementation plan at present.
It is very interesting to read about Helen's research as it shows what works best, having tutors become aware of the literacy, language and numeracy used in their classes especially if their topic is some other craft/technical subject.
There has been a tendency, if there is a student with a problem, to refer them to 'the literacy service' when perhaps all it might need is a better explanation of the work, language, use different methodologies and  a greater awareness of students' needs.
This is a really useful discussion for Ireland. We have many full time and part time programmes and how to integrate basic skills is a huge task. Getting staff on board and to value their ability is our first step. We would welcome hearing about any other good practices that we can refer to.  
Mary Flanagan working in Adult Literacy Sector of FET in County Clare, Ireland.
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Thank you, Mary! Welcome to the discussion!  It is interesting to hear how you continue developing this field in Ireland. I am particularly interested in the framework you mention. Is there a link you can give us? In Norway we use the framework you will find in the Skills Norway web site. I wonder if your framework is built along the same lines. We use it to increase the awareness about basic skills, but in this country we are fortunate in that basic skills are really built into ALL subjects at ALL levels, also in vocational learning. That is why we are particularly interested in the issues discussed by Helen in her report. 
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Hi Mary,
I sooo recognise the 'student with a problem' that you mention who just needs to be ' referred to the literacy service'. This issue will perennially raise its head I think, not least because separate provision is without question easier to manage and to deliver. But it so often doesn't touch the spot that is needed where learners are engaged in vocational or workplace learning. We have plenty of evidence that integrating works but the process of designing basic skills learning to fit within a broader vocational set of learning objectives can be challenging. We know that effective learning is enhanced by having teachers with deep knowledge of their subject areas. To achieve effective integration we need to find ways to enable those with deep craft/technical/vocational expertise to work in teams and in partnership with those who have a deep understanding of how to teach basic literacy and numeracy. Which means getting people with very different backgrounds to work together to achieve success for their shared learners.
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Indeed, that sounds ideal, Helen. I think you did manage to do this for a limited period in the UK, didn't you? It is probably a bit too costly, but then again - if it is so much more effective, it must also be cost efficient?
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Hi Graciela, There are many ways for teachers with complementary expertise to work together to achieve dual aims for their learners. This doesn't necessarily mean 'double staffing' i.e. two teacher teaching one class at the same time. This is of course an expensive option, though I have seen it used at times in the UK. (not recently!) But what we found in the research was that what was key was time for teachers to liaise with one another, and to understand one another's concerns and activities, not necessarily to teach together. We found this happening in a range of ways, often without any timetabled joint time. One thing that was important was for the basic skills specialist to have observation access to vocational learning sessions in order to analyse the demands on  learners. Achieving this was often as much about mutual understanding as time. Basic skills tutors were using their admin/marking time to sit in quietly and observe vocational colleagues' classes. Close liaison was in other instances created by simply sharing staff workrooms and therefore having frequent chats about learner progress and challenges. Others managed it by regular team meetings in which there was a clear focus on the progress of individual learners. A parallel to this in workplace learning is the time needed for a basic skills trainer to observe workplace practices firsthand and to liaise with workplace supervisors.
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Thu, 11/16/2017 - 19:13

The Norwegian work life is changing. An important key word is a rapid development from manual production to modern automatized and digitalized production, and a growing mismatch between vocational education and training (VET) and the development of the labor market.

As a provider of adult learning in workplaces in Norway, we are constantly faced with the growing gap between industry demand for competencies and skill levels in the workforce.

As there is a demand for less manual work, we see an increased demand for more specialized training in form of formal education and qualification.

According to The Confederation of Norwegian Enterprise (NHO) - and their skills barometer – many Norwegian businesses need more skilled workers and people with formal vocational training. And they want the training to be conducted in relation to the workplace!

6 of 10 Norwegian businesses have a need for vocational expertise they do not get covered today.

Other surveys from Norway shows that in 2020 less than 3 % of the work force will survive without formal vocational qualification.

For employees with weak basic skills this development offers particular challenges.

Some years aVET go we made a project with the large Norwegian paint produser Jotun. The enclosed in the link abow gives a good exemple of the need for basic skills training in combination with VET trainging. 


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Thank you so much for this, Jan. This video is a very good contribution to understanding a model of great relevance for the Upskilling Pathways initiative. I particularly like your comment about employers preferring to facilitate their workers getting qualifications, instead of having to hire new and qualified staff. 

Do you all know of similar workplace models in other European countries?
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Yes, Graciela that is important. I love to work with companies with this attitude. Note the statement from Morten Fon - managing director of Jotun; "In Jotun we like to say that the employees are hired for life!"

Thanks to the Norwegian basic skills program - Competence Pluss and Skills Norway - we experience that an increasing number of Norwegian companies think about the importance of educating their own employees to retain them and not have to replace them by new employees.

Our task is to prepare those with low basic skills so they are able to receive and take advantage of this training!

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