Foundation Skills

The Australian Government is committed to supporting adults in Australia to increase their literacy, numeracy, digital literacy and employability skills – known collectively as foundation skills.

Foundation skills are the competencies that underpin workforce participation, productivity, and social inclusion. They include English language, literacy, numeracy and digital (LLND) and employability skills. These are core “learning to learn” skills, necessary to provide people access to an education system from which follows opportunities to develop careers and engage in lifelong learning.

Increasing a person’s literacy and numeracy levels can have a direct and positive impact on their future economic and social wellbeing.

Foundation Skills Programs

The Australian Government delivers a range of dedicated programs to build the language, literacy, numeracy and digital skills of people across Australia.

  • The Skills for Education and Employment program (SEE) is available to nearly all Australian residents and citizens of working age who aren't already in full-time work or education. Individuals can participate in SEE if it would be of benefit to them, regardless of whether they receive an income support payment. SEE offers accredited training in foundation skills up to and including Certificate IV, as well as vocational courses with foundation skill training embedded up to and including Certificate III.
  • The Foundation Skills for Your Future Program supports employed and recently unemployed Australians who need flexible training to improve their reading, writing, maths, English language, digital skills.
  • The Foundation Skills For Your Future Remote Community Pilots are delivering foundation English Language, Literacy, Numeracy and Digital literacy (LLND) skills, training and assessment in four remote communities.

At the Jobs and Skills Summit held in September 2022, the Government committed, in partnership with States, Territories and stakeholders, to reinvigorate foundation skills programs to support workers and vulnerable Australians to gain secure employment choices.

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Foundation Skills Advisory Group

The Government has established a Foundation Skills Advisory Group to ensure stakeholder views are properly understood and considered during development and redesign of Foundation Skills policy and programs and to support broader work to build the evidence base on levels of these foundation skills among Australian adults.

The Advisory Group brings together individual experts and representatives from a range of organisations, including foundation skills peak bodies, industry, employers, unions, First Nations people, and state and territory governments.

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Draft National Foundation Skills Framework

The draft National Foundation Skills Framework (the Framework) sets out a model for collective action by the Commonwealth, State and Territory governments working with stakeholders to improve the foundation skills of Australian adults. Jurisdictions have worked together to develop the draft Framework. Once finalised, the Framework is intended to replace the 2012 National Foundation Skills Strategy for Adults and operate from 2022 to 2032.

To find out more about the Framework, you can: download a copy of the draft National Foundation Skills Framework Paper that provides an overview of the outcomes approach, the process of development and the structure of the framework.

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Building the evidence base

New National Study on Adult Literacy, Numeracy and Digital Literacy Skills

As part of the 2022-23 Budget, the Government has asked the newly formed Jobs and Skills Australia to deliver a new National Study on Adult Literacy, Numeracy and Digital Literacy Skills. This will assess the current skill levels of adults across Australia with a feasibility study to be undertaken to assess and support the skills of First Nations People.

Review of the Australian Core Skills Framework and Digital Literacy Skills Framework

In 2022 the former Department of Education, Skills and Employment commissioned the Australian Council for Educational Research to conduct a review of the Australian Core Skills Framework (ACSF) and the Digital Literacy Skills Framework (DLSF). The department invites stakeholders to provide feedback on the recommendations to inform future updates to the ACSF. Please email feedback to seefuture@dewr.gov.au by 28 February 2023.

The aim of the review was to:

  • research current uses of both frameworks by vocational education and training (VET) and adult and community education stakeholders, as well as of the tools available to support assessment using them; and
  • recommend areas for reform or change to support the frameworks in meeting identified stakeholder needs.

The report, Review of the Australian Core Skills Framework and Digital Literacy Skills Framework and relevant assessment tools, makes two main recommendations with eight sub recommendations. The department would like to thank everyone who participated in the review.

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