Foundational learning competence or “FLC” paves the way forward for more artisanal development

Foundational learning competence or “FLC” is key to developing the many tradespeople needed to help rebuild South Africa. Foundational learning competence or “FLC” prepares people to succeed in vocational training by equipping them with Basic English literacy and numbers skills. Learners need these basic English literacy and basic numeracy proficiencies to excel in both the theoretical and practical components of their apprenticeship training. It is the next logical step after adult basic education and training or “ABET”, paving the way forward for workplace training success.

South Africa only produces 12 000 artisans a year.The country will need to train many more if it intends developing and growing its economy – a fact that has also been acknowledged by government. Foundational learning competence or “FLC” is the starting point by preparing employees to succeed in their workplace training. Foundational learning competence or “FLC” equips people with the basic skills that they need to understand complex theoretical concepts and write their trade tests in English, which is the official language of learning and business. Unfortunately, there are many people who do not have these basic English literacy and basic maths skills and are, therefore, unable to be trained to help alleviate the skills crisis in the country.This is despite them being proficient in a specific trade and unemployment levels in the country currently at their highest, especially among young adults and previously disadvantaged women who want to work.The shortage of skilled artisans will also impede government’s large public works programme which is geared at resuscitating an economy that has been blighted by the COVID-19 pandemic.It has as its main objectivethe creation of many construction-related jobs and opportunities for skills training. This is in addition to developing many small, medium and micro enterprises that can also help alleviate high unemployment levels.

Accredited training provider helps industry prepare candidates for workplace training
Foundational learning competence lays foundation for vocational training success

Triple E Training, an accredited training provider, has helped many companies adequately prepare candidates for workplace training for more than 30 years. Among its clients are those that operate in the construction and engineering, as well as the mining and metals industries which have been grappling with a shortage of artisans for many years.Contractors need to upskill their employees to remain competitive. To compete for public sector contracts, they need to demonstrate that they have the skills to perform a specific task. Moreover, skilled and experienced tradespeople mitigate errors on worksites to help complete projects on time and within budget.

Among the skills that are in short supply in the country include skilled and competent bricklayers, electricians, millwrights, boilermakers, plumbers, mechanics, carpenters and joiners, welders, riggers, fitters and turners, as well as mechanical and pipe fitters.It is estimated that there is a shortfall of about 40 000 artisans in the country. As a result of the situation, these skills are often imported from other countries to work on important local infrastructure projects. South Africa’s power utility and local refineries, for example, have relied extensively on foreign welders for many years. Meanwhile, government has imported as many as 1 000 artisans to help alleviate the skills shortage which is negatively impacting public sector projects. This has been a point of contention and the source of protest on some construction sites with local workers retaliating against the use of foreign skills. At least one strategic construction project was brought to a grinding halt when local workers opposed the use of foreign welders on the worksite. Some of these protests have also been violent in nature like those experienced in the trucking industry where many people have reacted very negatively to the employment of foreign drivers.

It has been a challenge attracting more talented young adults to artisanry.Artisanry is still incorrectly viewed as a second-choice career by many school leavers who would rather prefer completing a university degree and work in an office. This is despite an abundance of employment opportunities available for skilled artisans, whereas a degree or national diploma no longer guarantee a job in the country. Many people also do not have the opportunity to work in their chosen field after they graduate with a degree or diploma. Considering the shortage of employment prospects due to an ailing economy, graduates often accept what is available to them even if it means working in a field that is far removed from what they initially studied.According to a study, skills mismatches were more than 50% two years ago, with employees either over-educated or under-educated for their occupations.Both the private and public sectors will have to work harder to help change negative perceptions ofartisanship especially if they intend replacing the many skilled and experienced artisans who are now reaching retiring age. This will exacerbate the skills crisis.

Basic English literacy skills to listen and understand read and write
English, the official language of learning and business

People learning a trade will use basic English literacy skills extensively. Learners completing their carpentry apprenticeships, for example, will be required to readwide compliance documentation. This is in addition to manufacturer’s specifications and texts that relate to the use of tools or working safely in a workshop environment or on a worksite.

Learners studying to be automotive mechanics, for instance, will be expected to read and understand very complicated text, while also paying close attention to diagrams and the machinery that they use for various assignments in their course books. These learners will read many pages of technical and complex information throughout theirthree-year-long learning journey.Theoretical training makes up about 30% of an apprenticeship.

Importantly, learners also use their basic English skills to listen to their facilitators and understand what is being communicated to them. This is in addition to being able to communicate efficiently in a classroom environment with facilitators and other learners and on work sites where they will be expected to work alongside and interact meaningfully with seasoned apprenticesas part of the practical component of their instruction.

Learners will also use their basic English skills to write. This includes recording practical work that is being completed as part of a Learnership or Skills Programme, in addition to explanations and descriptions of processes.

The importance of English literacy in the workplace cannot be overstated. Apprentices will use these skills throughout their working career when, for example, completing job cards, parts orders, quotes, building reports and lists of materials.

Any employee needs to have the ability to produce high quality documents. Poorly written documents detract from a businesses’ image and expose it to risk due to a lack of clarity and meaning. This risk may even include costly litigation, especially when the health and safety of employees and the public are involved. Employees who cannot read with understanding or communicate efficiently also tend to make more mistakes than functionally literate employees. Some errors in the workplace may cost a company money and its reputation. This is especially if goods have been returned by the customer or faulty products need to be replaced.

English literacy in adult basic education and training or “ABET” versus communication in Foundational Learning Competence or “FLC”

English communications in adult basic education and trainingor “ABET” and at a National Qualifications Framework or“NQF” Level 1focuseson teaching employees how to read and write English to improve performance and efficiencies in the workplace. Conversely, Foundational Learning Competence or “FLC” uses English reading, writing and speaking skills to convey meaning in a logical and arranged manner. Learners who have completed Triple E Training’s Foundational Learning Competence or “FLC” will, therefore, be able to extract relevant information from a text; imply meaning; formulate hypothesis; and develop logical arguments. They will also be capable oforganising their thinking and extracting key messages from an extended piece of writing.

Foundational Learning Competence or “FLC” Communications covers:

  • Writing
  • Speaking and listening
  • Visual literacy
  • Language structure and usage
  • Study skills
  • Workplace terminology

Foundational Learning Competence or “FLC” Communications is registered at NQF Level 2 and carries 20 credits.

A sound understanding of basic maths for technical trades
Basic numeracy skills prepare employees for apprenticeship training

Foundational learning competence or “FLC” also focuses on raising the basic numbers skills of learners to a level that is needed to succeed in workplace training.

Automotive service technicians will use their basic maths skills to compare measurements of energy, dimension, speed, horsepower, temperature and torque to original equipment manufacturers’ specifications. These applications all require a thorough grasp of basic maths.

Carpenters use their basic numbers skills to take measurements to determine alignments, elevations and grades using surveying equipment, while electricians use their basic numeracy skills to estimate times and materials required for projects.

Heavy-duty equipment mechanics use their basic maths skills to calculate size and volume of cylinders and tanks to determine capacity in litres.

Industrial mechanics and millwrights will use their basic numeracy skills to calculate the size and number of steel plates that are required to support the weight of industrial equipment as part of their daily duties.

Plumbers calculate rolling offsets to design, fabricate and install piping around obstacles. This requires sound basic numeracy skills.

Competent in adult basic education and training or “ABET” and ready for Foundational Learning Competence or “FLC”
Accredited training provider helps employees takes the next step in their learning journey

Learners who have completed adult basic education and training or “ABET” Level 4 in English literacy or numeracy will be ready to enrol for foundational learning competence or “FLC”.

Triple E Training also undertakes a placement assessment on behalf of its clients. This assesses employees’ understanding and level of competence in a particular learning field. The accredited training provider assesses skills and knowledge across a range of competence levels. This is to determine the level of the learning programme into which a learner should be placed. In this way, the company ensures that the demands of the learning programme are always aligned with learners’ level of competence.

Triple E Training, an accredited training provider, looks forward to assisting you with your various workplace training requirements. This includes adult basic education and training or “ABET”, foundational learning competence or “FLC” and rapid effective accelerated lifelong learning or “REALL”.

Numeracy in Foundational Learning Competence or “FLC”

Foundational learning competence or “FLC”provides an adequate foundation for learners to cope with the numeracy demands of workplace training. Foundational learning competence or “FLC” offers the basis for further development in mathematical literacy contexts and mathematical concepts that may be specific to an occupation or trade. Learners who have completed Triple E Training’s foundational learning competence or “FLC”can, therefore, solve problems in real contexts by responding to information about mathematical ideas that are presented in various ways. They are also able to solve problems by defining them; analysing and making sense of the information provided; planning how to solve them; and executing their plan. Moreover, they can interpret and evaluate the resultsand justify the method and solution. When solving problems, learners will be able to apply various skills. These include identifying or locating relevant information; ordering; sorting; comparing; counting; estimating; computing; measuring; modelling; interpreting; and communicating. Using their basic numeracy skills, learners will be able to make sense of the workplace.

Numeracy in foundational learning competence or “FLC”includes:

  • Number and quantity
  • Finance
  • Data and chance
  • Measurement
  • Space and shape
  • Patterns and relationships

Foundational learning competence or “FLC” numeracy is registered at NQF Level 2 and carries 20 credits.

Adult education and training or “AET”

BandNQF LevelEquivalent grade/standardAdult education and training or AET
Further Education and Training of “FET”4Grade 12FLC
Further Education and Training of “FET”3Grade 11FLC
Further Education and Training of “FET”2Grade 10FLC
General Education and Training or “GET”1Grade 9


Grade 7


Grade 5


Grade 3
Adult education and training or “AET” Level 1
Adult education and training or “AET” Level 2
Adult education and training or “AET” Level 3
Adult education and training or “AET” Level 4
Changing Lives Together