Get In Touch
277 Jorissen St, Paardeplaats
177 IQ, Krugersdorp
[email protected]
Ph: +27 11 668 4300

ABET training for staff development

A sound understanding of the theory behind training for staff development will ensure that your ABET programmes are always a resounding success.

Consisting of adult literacy training and numeracy training, AET training is predominantly geared at employees who have not completed basic education. They, therefore, do not possess basic education skills, which are necessary to perform most jobs at optimal levels. However, basic education skills are also the foundations upon which “soft” skills and “hard” proficiencies are developed. “Soft” skills are desirable employee traits which complement “hard” skills, technical proficiencies required to perform a job. An inability by employees to continue enhancing their skills sets impact a company negatively.

This is because it cannot quickly and efficiently respond to new market demands or industry trends. It may also not be able to adapt to new legislation or standards, threatening its very sustainability. Furthermore, it prevents unskilled and low-skilled employees from ever rising up the corporate ladder to grow and develop in their careers and as professionals. This also leads to high churn rates among blue-collar workers, which again impacts business performance.

Learning is cumulative. We need to learn certain foundational skills in reading and mathematics before we can be taught more advanced competencies.

Notably, foundational learning must also entail more than rote learning. Individuals need to make sense of the world and understand concepts behind solving problems.

Individuals also need practice and fluency in procedures. They must learn how to perform the steps to solve problems and apply skills practically. For these reasons, it is important to engage a work-based learning provider that has the capacity to provide onsite-based training for employees. In this way, a deep connection is established between the adult education and training on offer and job performance.

Thereafter, individuals should achieve some agreed-upon level of proficiency and difficulty against which progress can be measured.

Training for staff development mandate


However, many companies extend the training for staff development mandate beyond just upskill training for unskilled employees.

For example, adult basic training is also being targeted at workers who matriculated but with sub-standard literacy and numeracy skills. Numeracy training develops the basic numbers skills of employees who only took Maths Literacy as a subject, for instance. Since it was introduced to the school curriculum in 2006, more school learners have been taking the subject. This is opposed to traditional Mathematics which is considerably more difficult.

However, mathematics deals with theories, concepts and problems that are solved using basic numeracy skills such as trigonometry, algebra and calculus. On the other hand, Maths Lit deals with common practical problems like budgeting and interest calculations. It does not exercise critical and logical thinking skills to a level that is required by most modern workplaces. This is a concern, considering that many industries are increasingly relying on sophisticated technologies in this digital era. Most modern technologies are developed on various foundational principles and algorithms that are based on mathematics.

Computer science uses various maths logic and number theory to develop data structures and algorithms. Basic addition and multiplication are also the basis of computer operations. PWC warns that South African companies need to start developing the skills of their employees to undergo the Fourth Industrial Revolution. This is considering that many of our international competitors have already embraced these innovations. At particular risk of being left behind on the global platform is our manufacturing sector. This will result in further de-industrialisation in the country. Refer to South Africa needs to embrace more 4IR technology or fall behind (

Literacy training for staff development

The adult literacy training component of training for staff development also hones the skills of non-native English-speaking employees. It remains a concern that many matriculants lack good workplace literacy skills. This includes a sound grasp of English, the formal language of the South African workplace. It is a symptom of the declining quality of education especially in the townships and rural areas. According to research, 58% of Grade 4 learners in South Africa cannot read for meaning, while 29% are completely illiterate. Refer to Learning to read and reading to learn – Research on Socio-Economic Policy (RESEP) (

This corroborates research by the National Education Evaluation Unit [NEEDU (] of the Department of Basic Education in 2013. Of 1 772 rural Grade 5 learners, 41% read so slowly that they were considered non-English readers. Meanwhile, 11% could not read a single English word from a passage used to assess their language fluency. Certainly, the sample of learners is not fully reflective of all South African schools. However, it unveils a disturbingly high number of children who are unable to read in their fifth year of schooling.

Poor English literacy skills in the workplace stifle effective communication. This is one of the critical “soft” skills that employees need to add real value as team members. In some industries, an inability to communicate effectively renders “hard” skills useless. The importance of literacy as one of the basic education skills cannot be overstated. When teams fail to communicate effectively, company performance declines. According to research by Gartner, 70% of company mistakes can be attributed to poor communication. Refer to The Importance of Effective Workplace Communication (

Training for staff development levels

There are four training for staff development levels. Educational employee development in South Africa starts at ABET training Level 1 and ends at ABET Level 4. However, some employees may have to first complete pre-adult basic training to better prepare themselves for English and maths training. To do so, they need to first pass pre-adult basic training.

A competent AET provider will be able to advise you on the extent of English literacy and basic numbers skills gaps in your company. It will then help you to develop a robust adult education and training programme for your employees. This starts by placing your employees at the correct adult basic education and training level. It is imperative that your employees transition from their past education attainment level into adult education programmes. This will ensure that they can cope with upskill training for unskilled employees and find ABET curricula interesting and relevant. In this way, employees remain stimulated during English and maths training and are motivated to succeed in learning basic education skills.

Training for staff development success

Therefore, a placement assessment by a skilled and experienced adult education training provider underpins the training for staff development success.

Employees who have below-ABET Level 1 education skills can read brief text on familiar topics and locate a single piece of information. However, they only have basic vocabulary knowledge and do not yet understand the structure of sentences or paragraphs yet. This is sufficient to enrol for adult literacy training Level 1.

At this stage of basic education for employees, workers learn how to read relatively short digital or print texts. In this way, they can locate a single piece of information that is synonymous with that which is presented in a question. By the time that employees have completed AET Level 1, they can be expected to recognise basic vocabulary. They are also required to determine the meaning of sentences and read short paragraphs.

Employees with adult basic training Level 2 basic education skills can make matches between information presented in digital or printed text. They can also paraphrase or make low-level inferences.

Employees with an adult basic education and training Level 3 education can read dense, lengthy or complex texts.

Completing training for staff development


Completing training for staff development, employees learn the skills that are needed to integrate, interpret or synthesise information from complex or lengthy texts. They are taught how to identify and understand one or more specific, non-central ideas in a text. This facilitates the interpretation or evaluation of subtle evidence-claim or persuasive discourse relationships. After completing ABET, employees’ basic education skills are at a National Qualifications Framework Level 1, which is equivalent to a Grade 9 school education. Obtaining this qualification enables employees to access learnership programmes at NQF Level 2 and onwards. Refer to

Certainly, employees who have completed adult basic training Level 4 should be encouraged to do so. It is important for your employees to reach NQF Level 4, which represents a secondary education or vocational training qualification. Holders of this certificate or diploma possess a basic understanding of a subject area and foundational skills and knowledge. Engage your work-based learning provider to help you to determine which skills path your employees should pursue after completing adult education and training.

Adult literacy training at this level teaches employees how to search for and integrate information across multiple, dense texts. They will also learn how to construct syntheses of similar and contrasting ideas or points of view or evaluate evidence-based arguments. Employees will also gain an understanding of subtle, rhetorical cues and how to make high-level inferences or to use specialised background knowledge.

Numeracy training for staff development

Numeracy training for staff development imparts the basic numbers skills that your employees need to be effective at work.

Before employees can start the numeracy component of AET training at Level 1, they need to be able to perform simple mathematical-related processes. This includes counting and sorting and doing basic arithmetic calculations with whole numbers and money. Moreover, they need to be able to recognise common spatial representations. This is in addition to other contexts where the mathematical content is clear with little or no text.

Adult basic training Level 1 teaches basic numbers skills, namely simple, one-step processes where the mathematical content is clear with little text. Employees learn how to count and sort; perform basic arithmetic operations; and understand simple percentages. They also learn how to locate and identify straight-forward, common graphical or spatial representations.

Adult education programmes at Level 2 develop these basic numbers skills further. This includes an ability to identify numerical information embedded in a range of common contexts where mathematical content is fairly clear or visual. At this adult basic training level, employees can perform mathematical functions that require the application of two or more steps. This includes calculating with whole numbers and common decimals and percentages and fractions. Performing these functions also requires a sound understanding of measurement and spatial representation and estimation. They also involve the ability to interpret relatively simple data and statistics in texts, tables and graphs.

ABET training for staff development

Employees who have completed Level 3 ABET training for staff development can understand mathematical information that may be less clear. It is embedded in contexts that are not always familiar and represented in more complex ways. With basic numbers skills at this level, they can perform mathematical tasks that require several steps. They also involve a choice of problem-solving strategies. This includes the application of number and spatial sense. They also entail the capacity to work with mathematical relationships; patterns; and proportions expressed in verbal or numerical form. In completing these tasks, employees also interpret and undertake basic analysis of data and statistics in texts, tables and graphs.

With Level 4 numeracy skills employees can understand a broad range of mathematical information. It can be complex, abstract or embedded in unfamiliar contexts. They can perform multiple mathematical steps and choose relevant problem-solving strategies. This entails analysing and more complex reasoning using quantities and data. They also require a sound grasp of statistics and probability; spatial relationships; and change, proportions and formula. Equipped with basic numbers skills at this level, employees also understand mathematical-related arguments and can communicate explanations for answers.

Again, employees should be encouraged to develop these basic education skills even further. This will equip them with the basic numbers skills that they need to understand complex representations. Moreover, they will be able to comprehend abstract and formal mathematical and statistical ideas that are also embedded in more complex forms. As such, employees will be able to integrate multiple types of mathematical information where considerable interpretation is required. They will also possess the ability to derive well-reasoned conclusions and work with mathematical arguments and models. In addition, they will be able to justify, evaluate and critically reflect on answers.

Training for staff development strategy

A reputable ABET provider will be able to help you to develop a robust training for staff development strategy.

Always make sure that the AET provider that you engage is accredited by the Quality Council for General and Further Education and Training [Home – Umalusi]. This will ensure that your basic education for employees is of suitable quality and, therefore, results in a recognised qualification. Employees who complete AET will hold a General Education and Training Certificate for Adults. Refer to Adult Basic Education and Training Act: General Education and Training Certificate (GETC) – Adult Basic Education and Training (ABET) Level 4, qualification at Level 1 on National Qualifications Framework: Amendment | South African Government (

Meanwhile, two new qualifications are envisaged for the adult stream. They have already been developed and submitted for regulation by Umalusi. This includes the General Education and Training Certificate for Adults and National Senior Certificate for Adults. Refer to and page0050.pdf (

To find an accredited mathematical and literacy training provider, visit Accredited Private Education Institutions (

Also make sure that your adult education training provider has the capacity to offer onsite training for employees. This is considering that this is also the most cost-effective and convenient way to provide upskill training for unskilled employees. It does away with the time and cost involved in transporting workers to weekly maths and literacy training classes. Moreover, a flexible accredited training provider will be able to plan basic education for employees around production schedules.

Tailored training for staff development

A competent mathematical and literacy training provider also offers tailored training for staff development.

Providing education development for employees in a work setting ensures its relevance. However, an enterprising mathematical and literacy training provider will also incorporate typical terminology and functions encountered by employees in the workplace in AET. The basic education skills that employees learn need to improve their performance at work. This is a vast departure from the generic adult basic training provided by government, university and non-government organisations.

Moreover, an accomplished work-based learning provider has experience teaching basic education skills to adults. This presents unique challenges when compared to educating children or more learned adults who are completing graduate or doctoral programmes. Usually, unskilled or low-skilled employees have preexisting thoughts and experiences about education that impact their learning experience. They also have a lower tolerance for inauthenticity and less time in their day to devote to learning.

Training for staff development specialist

Therefore, a training for staff development specialist is familiar with andragogy, a learning theory founded by Malcolm Knowles, a renowned education expert. Refer to The Adult Learning Theory – Andragogy – of Malcolm Knowles – eLearning Industry.

Knowles’ theory contains specific principles to consider when teaching adults basic education skills. These, therefore, need to be considered when developing English and maths training for employees. According to Knowles’ theory, adults are self-directed and bring a wealth of experience to the educational setting. They also enter this environment primed to learn. Adults are also problem-centred in their learning and best motivated by internal factors.

Thus, successful adult education programmes provide employees some level of autonomy over their learning. They also present learning subjects that are relevant to employees’ roles in the workplace. A case in point is the intense focus on adult literacy training and numeracy training. These basic education skills are the basis of workplace literacy. Importantly, effective adult education training programmes allow learners to relate subject matter to their personal experience.

Measure training for staff development

An AET provider will also show you how to measure your training for staff development programmes.

A very important component of any successful adult basic training programme is to measure its success. English and maths training is not undertaken for just the sake of it. It costs time and money and must, therefore, yield a return on investment.

Many businesses use the Kirkpatrick model or variations thereof to measure the impact of their ABET training. This method starts by gauging the participants’ reactions to adult basic education and training. Thereafter, the learning that took place and the behavioural changes that are now present in the workplace after AET are measured. Lastly, the results of the overall training and its impact on business are gauged. Refer to

Learn more about Triple E Training, a leading provider of upskill training for unskilled employees.

Book a Call

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.

Book a Call

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.