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ABET lays foundations for life-long learning

By teaching literacy and numeracy skills, AET or ABET lays foundations for life-long learning.

All employees should be given the opportunity to continue to develop or hone and enhance their skills. Even your low or semi-skilled employees ought to be encouraged or even challenged to achieve their full potential. Skills development and lifelong learning will enhance their capabilities to participate fully in decent work and contribute to human development. Equipped with appropriate skills, they are also able to partake in active citizenship and the strengthening of our democracy.

This is over-and-above the immense value that appropriately skilled employees play in ensuring business success. They are more productive, efficient and accurate employees. By gaining new and upgrading their existing skills, they also help you constantly adapt to new market demands.

It is important to note that many adults who are classified as low or semi-skilled employees are proficient in their jobs. Despite having low literacy and numeracy levels, they possess a range of other valuable skills that are being harnessed by their employers. For example, they are able to drive different commercial vehicles; operate specialist equipment and tools; or provide unique care to customers. Although they have low qualification levels, they have gained valuable work experience over the years. This includes an intricate understanding of your work processes that take time to learn. These include standard operating procedures, as well as your safety, health and environment protocol. They are also already aligned to your mission, ethos and core values.

ABET and education and work

ABET or AET and the world of education and work are closely connected. This is considering that adult literacy and numeracy training imparts workplace literacy skills. These include reading, writing and numeracy. This is in addition to the ability to communicate with customers and co-workers, as well as read work documents; and keep accurate records. Certainly, workplace literacy skills also include the ability to use technology and think logically and critically.

The International Labour Organization notes the need for a strong connection between the worlds of education and work. This is to make lifelong learning a reality in the workplace. The ILO developed a guide for trade unions on skills development and lifelong learning. Refer to Skills and lifelong learning critical for all workers (ilo.org).

Notably, in South Africa, the concept of lifelong learning was first promoted by the trade union movement. The Congress of South African Trade Unions [www.cosatu.org.za] in particular has always been a staunch supporter of lifelong learning. It promoted lifelong learning as a component of a reconstructed education and training system that could meet equity and development needs. According to the congress, one of the aims of a lifelong learning programme is the incremental skilling of workers. This is via a system that melds formal and informal or on-the-job training.

Legislation was, therefore, adopted to enforce lifelong learning in our workplaces. Despite this, not all employees are being presented an opportunity to develop their skills. Managers and more senior level staff are often prioritised at the expense of general workers in terms of skills development. This can also be attributed to the South African economy becoming increasingly dependent on skilled employees and less so on low-wage workers. This and skills shortages are reasons enough to be focusing more effort on upskilling these individuals.

ABET imparts literacy skills

ABET or AET imparts literacy and numeracy skills specifically to your low and semi-skilled employees. These proficiencies are the basic building blocks for further learning.

The UNESCO Institute of Lifelong learning [www.uil.unesco.org/en] provides an analytical framework for literacy from a lifelong learning perspective. It comprises three closely interrelated dimensions.

Firstly, literacy is regarded as a lifelong learning process. Thus, literacy is a continuous activity that leads to different proficiency levels.

Secondly, literacy is a life-wide process. People use and develop their reading and writing skills in various ways across a broad range of places or spaces.

Thirdly, literacy is regarded as part of holistic, sector-wide and cross-sectoral reforms that promote the development of national lifelong learning systems. Within a lifelong learning perspective, literacy and numeracy are viewed as foundation skills. They are the core of basic education and indispensable to full participation in society. Refer to https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ1199862.pdf.

ABET helps employees

By teaching literacy and numeracy skills, ABET or AET helps employees to escape the “low-skills trap”. This is by equipping them with the foundational literacy and numeracy skills that they need to continue learning. In turn, they too can rise up the ranks and accept greater responsibility that comes with higher earning potential.

Adults with low skills are most at risk of experiencing a deterioration in their labour market prospects. This is as industry continues to automate and mechanise processes. Occupations that require no specific skills and training have the highest risk of being automated. This is according to research by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development [South Africa – OECD].

It says that some jobs may become more efficient and flexible due to these changes.

However, other jobs such as long-distance truck driving may be automated in the future. This will do away with these skills which are also currently in short supply. Food preparation assistants, labourers and assemblers are among the other jobs that may become redundant due to technology.

The responsibility of the individual

It is, thus, important for employees to adapt by learning new skills and further developing those that they already possess.

Meanwhile, it is also important to consider new forms of work and less linear career pathways. These trends are stimulating a lively debate about access to training.

Traditionally, employers have taken on much responsibility for the training of employees. However, the expansion of non-standard employment is shifting the responsibility of life-long learning to the individual.

We can also expect the transition towards a low-carbon economy to influence the number and types of jobs that are available and how we perform them.

However, low-wage employees are often presented scant opportunity to develop their skills via education and training. Their jobs provide limited training opportunities, or they experience prolonged periods of unemployment.

ABET for the employed

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ABET or AET for the employed remains one of the most effective ways of engaging more functionally illiterate individuals in adult literacy and numeracy training. This is where individuals identify their training needs and are presented an opportunity to bridge skills gaps.

However, bear in mind that employees who lack basic skills may be hesitant to communicate their training needs to their employers. Therefore, shortfalls in literacy and numeracy skills in the workplace can be identified by a placement assessment. These are undertaken at your premises and at a time that suits your production schedule by an accredited training provider. Refer to www.umalusi.org.za, which accredits ABET or AET training providers.

Based on the literacy and numeracy levels of your employees, they will be placed at the correct ABET or AET level. There are four ABET or AET levels. This excludes pre-ABET or AET, which better prepares individuals with very low literacy and numeracy skills for the programme.

By the time employees have completed ABET Level 4, they will have basic literacy and numeracy skills at a National Qualifications Framework (NQF) Level 1.

Thus, they will be able to initiate and participate in ordinary social conversations. They can typically ask and answer predictable questions in the workplace, as well as receive and provide simple direction.

Moreover, they can interact with descriptive or narrative writings. These include routine reports and simple biographic information and technical material geared at the general reader. They will also be able to formulate business letters. Moreover, they can discuss professional matters, but not always accurately or fluently.

ABET is just the start

However, completing ABET or AET is just the start. It only imparts the bare minimum in terms of literacy and numeracy skills.

While literacy at NQF Level 3 is sufficient to perform routine tasks satisfactorily, employees should be encouraged to develop these skills further. At NQF Level 3, employees’ literacy skills are at a level that they can establish and maintain successful social communication. They can also discuss professional matters fluently, accurately and appropriately. Therefore, language will rarely be a hindrance to successful performance of tasks.

Employees who have completed matric, will have literacy skills at a NQF Level 4. Their literacy skills will be equivalent to that of a native English speaker. This means that they will have a complete mastery of the English language in all situations.

Community ABET

Community ABET or AET is another effective way of engaging low- and semi-skilled individuals in adult literacy and numeracy training. These programmes are predominantly geared at unemployed members of communities with the intention of equipping them with employable skills. However, they are fraught with challenges.

A skilled and experienced training provider ensures high participation in these ABET or AET programmes. It recruits learners with the help of community leaders and church representatives. Use is also made of notices, posters and various media, including radio, to enrol potential learners.

A training specialist is also able to select the most convenient venue for ABET or AET classes to ensure high attendance in training. This is considering that transport can be a constraint. It does this with the help of community leaders, as well as representatives of schools, hospitals, HIV/Aids centres and churches.

A reputable training provider also helps its clients to identify communities in their operational footprint that need ABET or AET and those that should be prioritised. An ABET or AET specialist also works closely with the community to avoid situations that may lead to unrest. As it is flexible, it is also able to adapt to these situations when they do occur to mitigate interruptions to training.

ABET provides basic education

An ABET or AET programme provides formal and basic education, including foundational literacy and numeracy skills.

Low- or semi-skilled adults need support in identifying their training needs. They also require advice on how to tackle any barrier to participation in these programmes.

Advice and guidance are most effective when they are holistic. An accredited ABET or AET provider will be able to fulfil this requirement. This is in addition to tailoring the service to the needs and situation of each learner.

It is important that ABET or AET is relevant and interesting. Adults learn differently than children. They learn best when the training is put into context. For example, when it is conducted in the work environment and linked to the jobs and career paths of learners.

As part of their services, enterprising adult literacy and numeracy training providers will also host awareness campaigns before embarking on an ABET or AET programme. This is to explain the relevance of the training to employees and community members so that they are motivated to want to succeed.

Appropriate support and mentorship are also provided throughout the programme by skilled and experienced training facilitators.

A leading ABET specialist

Triple E Training is a leading ABET or AET specialist.

Our quality adult literacy and numeracy training programmes are suited to both workplace and community training.

These make a substantial contribution towards companies’ Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE) scorecards. This is considering that skills development and training are a significant component of transformation.

B-BBEE policy states that skills development must contribute to the achievement of the country’s economic growth and social development goals. In this way, it will enrich the creation of decent work and sustainable livelihoods. It must also promote the development of an industrial skills base in critical sectors of production and value-added manufacturing. Skills development and training must also strengthen the skills and human resource base by encouraging the support of skills development initiatives. Notably, there must be a focus on developing the skills and careers of all working people, including low- and semi-skilled employees. Refer to https://www.gov.za/sites/default/files/gcis_document/201905/42496gen306.pdf.

Invest in our ABET

Companies continue to invest in our ABET or AET. They use adult literacy and numeracy training to build their businesses from the bottom up.

Low-wage employees are recognised as critical assets as opposed to a cost. The skills, experience and implicit knowledge of these employees are intangible assets of real value to companies. Enterprising companies, therefore, extend their principles of talent management to include essential workers to preserve it.

These companies have also made retention a cornerstone of their strategy. Indeed, employers can always hire new workers by offering marginally higher wages. However, excessive churn leads to a surge in indirect costs. Experienced employees are usually more valuable than new recruits with the same skills. They have already overcome barriers to working at your company and are familiar with its way of operating. Importantly, they have also demonstrated competence in performing their jobs and they are usually eager to remain at their current employer.

These companies are building a diverse organisation from the ground up. Low-wage employees constitute an immediately available pool of talent with skills and experience. Developing your own employees is more likely to achieve desired results than employing externally.

Measure the impact of ABET

Our clients measure the impact of their ABET or AET. They know how their adult literacy and numeracy training has improved business performance. Importantly, they also want to know how their investment in ABET or AET is developing staff. This so that they can achieve their full potential inside and outside the world of work. They also monitor how adult literacy and numeracy training is creating more engaged and motivated employees.

They track the processes that drive the creation of a more stable and productive workforce with the same rigor as other mission-critical activities.

Our clients also know that even incremental efforts in mentorship; career pathways; and learning and development can help workers escape “poverty-trap” roles. This is a term used to describe the “working poor”. These employees may have jobs but the wages they earn do not cover the cost of living. This is a major driver of high inequality in the country. In turn, businesses benefit by reducing the indirect costs associated with high turnover and raising the productivity of their workforce.

They also cooperate with other companies to develop a growing talent pool. This is to develop a smooth, well-functioning supply chain for local talent. They identify skills gaps in local communities and prepare their workers for better paying positions at other employers. Our clients who operate small and medium-sized businesses also recognise that there are economies of scale in collaborating on deepening the talent pool. This is opposed to competing for talent.

Learn more about Triple E Training and our quality training. www.eee.co.za

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Unlock the Full Potential of Your Employees. Leave your details & our team get back to you.

Note: Please be assured that all personal data submitted is handled with the utmost confidentiality & will only be used for the purpose of addressing your inquiries.