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EPALE - Euroopa täiskasvanuhariduse veebikeskkond


Basic Skills within VET: online discussion

looja Zsolt Vincze


Basic Skills within VET: online discussion
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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Kasutaja Graciela Sbertoli pilt
Is this being done? Do you know of any program in your country or elsewhere that is implementing this dual system model?

Thank you for this, Helen. I think it is one of the most crucial issues we have discussed here so far...
Kasutaja Helen Casey pilt
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'?
Kasutaja Ramon Mangion pilt
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.

Kasutaja Christine Fenech pilt
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?

Kasutaja Graciela Sbertoli pilt
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?
Kasutaja Jan EVENSEN pilt
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.

Kasutaja Martina NI CHEALLAIGH pilt

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.


Kasutaja Graciela Sbertoli pilt
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

Kasutaja Graciela Sbertoli pilt
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.
Kasutaja Martina NI CHEALLAIGH pilt

 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?