Will ABET develop my employees? - Triple e Training

Will ABET develop my employees?

A frequently asked question is: will an investment in ABET really develop my employees? The simple answer to this question is: yes. However, the success of any AET training depends upon how serious you take adult education programs for unskilled and low skilled employees. ABET training needs to be viewed in the same way you do skills development and training for your white-collar workers. For many companies, adult basic education and training is merely a way of improving their broad-based black economic empowerment (B-BBEE) scorecard.

Refer to https://www.bbbee.com/scorecards/scorecards-gs.html. It is not viewed as an important type of upskill training for unskilled employees or “blue collar” workers. This is so that they can improve their performance to the benefit of the company. At the same time, they are able to grow and develop in their careers. Thus, adult basic training often just becomes a “tick-box” exercise. Employees are merely selected to undergo adult basic training. Little thought goes into which employees actually needs adult literacy training and numeracy training the most. This is so that they can improve their performance and chances of success at the company.

Many companies do not bother to undertake a comprehensive evaluation of the literacy and numeracy skills needed to perform certain jobs. There is also seldom a clear career progression path for employees who are selected to undergo English and maths training. In extenuating circumstances, companies have even simulated onsite-based training for employees without actually transferring skills to employees. This is simply so that they comply with B-BBEE legislation. Refer to Ticking boxes undermines B-BBEE (crown.co.za). Little due diligence is also done before appointing a training provider that specialises in reading and writing skills. This approach pays lip-service to transformation. It undermines the fundamental role that real skills development can actually play in B-BBEE.

ABET done correctly

ABET training that is done correctly contributes meaningfully towards transformation, earning well-deserved points on your B-BBEE scorecard. Companies’ B-BBEE levels reduce by an entire level if they fail to meet the sub-minimum targets for skills development. This is despite how compliant companies are in other measured elements of B-BBEE – such is the importance of skills development in the codes.

Bear in mind that adult education programs are geared primarily at the many black citizens who are stuck in menial and low-paying jobs. Many of these employees did not have access to a quality education to obtain basic education skills. Bear in mind the notoriously poor quality of schooling in the townships, as well as informal and rural areas. There is a high possibility that may of your unskilled or low-skilled workers come from these areas. Refer to https://beeempowermentservices.co.za/skills-development-in-south-africa/, which underlines skills development as a fundamental pillar of transformation. Also reference https://www.umalusi.org.za/docs/legislation/2000/act52_2000.pdf.

The act details the importance of AET training as a means of education development for employees. It also explains the role of adult basic education as a way of achieving redress. Bear in mind that the number of black African adults with no or very little schooling remains very high. These citizens vastly outnumber coloured, Indian and white South Africans who are functionally illiterate. Refer to Fact Sheet – Adult Illiteracy in South Africa – March 2023.pdf (dhet.gov.za).

Incentive for providing ABET training

A further incentive for providing ABET training for your unskilled and low-skilled employees is the large positive impact it has on business. This is through improved productivity, quality, efficiency and accuracy of work performed by workers who possess basic education skills. For many companies, this on its own is sufficient motivation to continue providing quality education development for employees. This while also benefiting from improved B-BBEE scorecards.

Responsible corporate citizens also know that investing in basic education for employees helps to build a better society for all. Basic education skills are used in just about all facets of life. Citizens who possess these oft skills can make a substantial contribution to their communities.

Therefore, if approached correctly, the benefits of onsite-based training programmes for unskilled and low-skilled employees transcend the workplace. Consider, for example, how your adult basic education programmes are breaking inter-generational illiteracy. This is because your workers can help their children with their homework and read to them.

ABET develops basic education skills

Quality ABET training develops basic education skills of your employees incrementally. Basic education skills are the ability to read, write and speak in English, the formal language of work. Importantly, they also include basic numbers skills. Basic numeracy skills enable employees to think critically and logically so that they can solve problems that they encounter when performing their jobs. These “soft” skills also enable your employees to work with simple technology, such as phones and computers, to undertake a range of everyday tasks in the workplace.

Employees who have completed adult basic education and training, are functionally literate. Quality adult literacy training teaches employees how to read, write, speak and listen. Equipped with these essential “soft” skills, they can understand discussions in meetings and make relevant contributions to the situation. They are, therefore, more engaged and motivated employees. This also translates into more loyal workers, reducing the costs associated with constant recruitment. One survey found that employees who received five or more days of training in the preceding year were highly committed. This is compared to those workers who had received less training. The effect of training held for employees in both the public and private sectors. Refer to https://www.researchgate.net/publication/268254271_The_benefits_to_employers_of_raising_workforce_basic_skills_levels_a_review_of_the_literature.

Moreover, they can identify and understand the main points, ideas and details in workplace texts. They can also write simple emails and complete forms accurately. This reduces misunderstandings that lead to costly mistakes.

When employees complete adult education and training, they also have the basic maths skills to count quantities for a customer. Moreover, they can use percentages and subtraction when determining discount and extract data from tables; diagrams; simple line graphs; and bar charts.

Skills taught by ABET

The basic education skills taught by ABET training are also the basis of digital literacy. This important “soft” skill can be developed even further. Employees who possess this skill can use a workplace email address book to send emails to colleagues. They can also use the “cc” option if requested to do so. Moreover, they can search information using internet browsers, such as Chrome. They also have the ability to complete digital records for absence, holidays or expenses online. Furthermore, they can follow guidelines and policies for choosing secure passwords and changing them when prompted to do so. This also improves cyber security in your company and safeguards intellectual property.

Digital literacy skills in the modern workplace are now no longer a negotiable. Learn why https://www.bbc.com/worklife/article/20220923-why-digital-literacy-is-now-a-workplace-non-negotiable.

Worryingly, adults with lower skills are more likely to be affected by technological changes in the workplace. Research by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development shows that the demand for their skills is decreasing due to automation or offshoring. Jobs which require no specific skills and training have the highest risk of being automated. Examples of this type of work include food preparation assistants; labourers; and assemblers. Adults with low skills can find themselves in a “low-skill trap”. Many have low-level positions with limited opportunities for development, frequently stepping in and out of employment. They can also often expect limited returns to training, such as higher wages or access to better jobs. Refer to https://www.oecd.org/els/emp/engaging-low-skilled-adults-2019.pdf.

Determine your ABET training needs

A reputable AET provider will be able to help you to determine your exact ABET training needs. Such an adult education training provider will no doubt be accredited by the Quality Council for Further Education and Training. Refer to https://www.umalusi.org.za/.

Before starting English and maths training, the educational accredited training provider will undertake a placement assessment at your premises. This analysis determines the extent of the English literacy and basic numbers skills gaps in your organisation. Your training provider can then determine the most effective way of addressing these via adult basic education and training.

There are four adult basic education and training levels. Adult education training level 1 teaches English literacy and basic numbers skills that would be learnt by students in Grade 3. Level 2 adult basic training programs teach literacy and numeracy skills learnt in Grade 6. Skills learnt during AET training at level 3 are similar to those taught in Grade 8. Level 4 adult literacy training and numeracy training teach skills that are learnt in Grade 9.

Your employees’ existing literacy and numeracy proficiencies will determine at which adult education training level they can start the adult education program. Bear in mind that some employees may have to first complete pre-adult literacy training and numeracy training. This is because they have very low basic education skills and will, therefore, struggle with AET training Level 1 course content. Pre-adult basic education primes your employees to succeed in adult basic education and training.

Quality ABET Level 4

Quality ABET Level 4 is registered on the National Qualifications Framework at Level 1.

The NQF is a South African framework that arranges levels of learning achievements. The South African Qualifications Authority has been using this framework since the enactment of the NFQ Act of 2008. Refer to National Qualifications Framework Act 67 of 2008 | South African Government (www.gov.za). The NQF focuses on a list of applied competencies. Each NQF level signifies a specific standard of intellectual and academic skills, including problem-solving abilities and learner autonomy.

In possession of a General Education Certificate (GEC)  certificate, your employees are in a position to complete adult matric. Enterprising companies will encourage their staff to do so. This is so that they can obtain a NQF Level 4 qualification, or Senior Certificate . A NQF Level 4 denotes a basic understanding of a subject area. This is in addition to the acquisition of basic education skills and knowledge. Therefore, a qualification at this NQF level serves as a stepping stone to higher levels of education and training.

Some employees prefer to learn for a National Vocational Certificate (NCV). A NCV is equivalent to a National Senior Certificate, but better prepares employees for the workplace. Refer to dhet.gov.za/National Certificates NQF Level 4/The National Senior Certificate and the National Certificate (Vocational) are registered on the same NQF Level (NQF L4), bu.pdf.

ABET helps your employees

ABET training helps your employees to achieve their true potential by teaching them basic education skills. These “soft’ skills include basic numbers skills and how to communicate effectively in the workplace.

Without confidence in basic education skills, your staff may struggle with their daily tasks. Employees may also be reluctant to adapt to new ways of working. This is especially if this involves training courses that assume confidence in soft skills.

There are signs that your employees may be struggling with literacy. This requires that you consult a professional reading and writing training provider.

Your workers may find excuses to read work documentation at home. They may also have difficulty pronouncing long and complicated words and have a limited vocabulary. Moreover, they may struggle to express simple ideas and or abstract concepts. Employees may also prefer to memorise information than writing it down in your presence. They may even ask colleagues to record the information for them as opposed to doing it themselves. Also look out for invoices and memos that contain basic spelling mistakes that have been submitted by your staff. Functionally illiterate employees will also decline promotions. This is because they fear having to learn new skills because they do not have the capacity to do so. They may also forget to attend meetings despite written confirmation to do so.

Selecting employees for ABET


Selecting employees for ABET training needs to be approached appropriately. It can be a sensitive matter that needs to be handled carefully.

Remember that functionally illiterate employees will seldom admit that they struggle to read and write. This is because they generally have low self-esteem. They also feel vulnerable when in the presence of people who they believe are more educated than themselves. When confronted with a situation that they do not fully understand, they may act in a submissive or aggressive manner.

Throughout their career, they have learnt coping skills to deal with their functional illiteracy and how to hide this impediment from their employers. Many fear that if they are found out, they will lose their livelihoods.

A reputable work-based training provider will be able to help you to gauge these employees in a constructive way. This is usually done after a placement assessment when employees with glaring literacy and numeracy skills gaps are approached to participate in AET training.

Numeracy training component of ABET

The numeracy training component of ABET training teaches your employees workplace maths skills. These are also simply referred to as basic number skills.

There is a huge gap between maths taught at school and the basic numeracy skills required in the workplace. Adult basic education and training can be used to address this. Many employees who have completed matric without maths as a subject are enrolled by their employers in workplace numeracy training. This is so that they can improve their basic numeracy skills. Certainly, a major concern for employees is the increasing number of matric graduates who have studied Maths Literacy as opposed to mathematics. This subject does not provide access to many post-school opportunities and career paths. It is also the bare minimum in terms of the basic numbers skills required in the workplace.

An accredited training provider will agree that one of the greatest benefits of studying mathematics is its ability to develop formidable character. Demonstrating grit during challenges builds tenacity and resilience. The back-and-forth process of trying to solve mathematical problems develops the ability to view situations through many lenses. Employees, therefore, also learn how to process information in diverse ways.

The main focus of ABET

Literacy and numeracy are the main focus of ABET training. Adult literacy training and numeracy training complement one another as subjects.

Basic numbers skills and literacy are often used in conjunction with one another. The required skills frequently overlap and are necessary for any task. For example, jobs may entail gathering and analysing information and using basic numbers skills. This is in addition to reporting; using computers; working within a team environment; and demonstrating initiative.

Thus, it is important to ensure that you are dealing with a company that specialises in English and maths training for the workplace. Such an ABET provider trains groups of employees on behalf of employers. It does not accept individuals who want to complete their basic education as it is not a college. Employers have to enrol their employees for adult education and training. AET training is undertaken at work premises and factored around production schedules.

Therefore, an accomplished educational accredited training provider will have large national footprint. This enables it to also service the adult basic education needs of remote agricultural, mining and quarrying operations. All of these industries employ many unskilled and low-skilled workers. They, therefore, make extensive use of professional AET providers.

Numeracy skills taught by ABET

The basic numeracy skills taught by ABET training enable workers to perform their tasks accurately, a specification in most job descriptions. They also facilitate use of industry- and job-specific terminology and jargon. Moreover, explanation, elaboration and analysis are very often presented along with numbers.

Signs of innumeracy in the workplace may include overreliance on calculators for simple mathematical tasks. This is in addition to inappropriate use of language in written correspondence.

An educational accredited training provider will be able to help you to gauge workers who need numeracy training. Again, this can be a sensitive topic that is best left to the skills and experience of an accredited training provider. Worryingly, there is more cultural complacency toward innumeracy than there is toward illiteracy. Both are serious impediments that can be addressed by quality basic education for employees.

A competent AET training provider will always undertake an awareness campaign before its starts with the adult basic education programme. During these sessions, employees are explained the relevance of training to motivate them to want to succeed in the adult education programs. They are also reassured of the support that they will receive from the mathematical and literacy training provider and their employers.

Skilled and experienced ABET provider

Appoint a skilled and experienced ABET training provider to help you to provide upskill training for unskilled employees.

As a starting point, your adult education training provider will insist on undertaking a training needs analysis at your premises. This is to inform you on current skills levels and areas for development in a department or throughout the company. Such a company will also be willing to run a small pilot with one group of employees. This is before you extend the reach of your adult education programs. In this way, you have the opportunity to assess the competencies of your AET training provider before scaling your training for staff development.

A credible work-based training provider will also help you to ensure that everyone at all levels of the company understands the issues. They also need to be committed to supporting staff who are participating in AET training.

Moreover, a competent mathematical and literacy training provider will help you to establish an appropriate structure for advice and guidance. This includes initial skills checks, assessment, support and progression to higher level learning.

Importantly, a good AET provider will be able to tailor education development for employees to enhance specific skills. For instance, you may want your ABET provider to incorporate work-related numeracy examples into adult numeracy training. This is so that employees can better relate to the adult basic education and training.

Also ask your accredited training provider to help you to set up a steering group to monitor adult basic education and training. This is to ensure its effectiveness for your business. Training service providers will assist you in evaluating learning activities and gather feedback to inform the adult education programs. Importantly, you also want to ensure that there is fair and equitable access to adult basic education.

Tips for ABET success

Leading work-based training provider, Triple E Training, shares some tips for ABET success. This is based on many years of experience as a reading and writing training provider for industry. The company also specialises in teaching employees important basic numbers skills via its excellent numeracy training.

Companies with successful onsite-based training for employees promote basic education skills and “soft skills” positively. They emphasise the benefits that adult education and training brings to staff. Adult basic education does not only teach workplace skills. Rather, it teaches proficiencies that are used in all aspects of life. Recognise and celebrate success by holding award ceremonies for employees when they have completed an ABET training level. Enterprising companies even acknowledge the best learners of the month and feature them in their newsletters and on their social media platforms. It is important to recognise, record and reward positive change in employees’ behaviour and performance since they started with English and maths training.

Secondly, you want to embed provision of basic education skills training into your systems and processes. Integrating soft skills training means that these proficiencies are more likely to be accepted and avoids them being side-lined or stigmatised. This helps to raise the profile of adult literacy training and numeracy training as part and parcel of wider staff development.

Partner your ABET provider

Triple E Training also advises you to partner with your ABET provider. An AET provider should not be viewed as just a supplier of AET training.

Get to know us intimately and what additional opportunities in terms of basic education for employees we can offer you. Work with us to ensure that AET training suits your business needs. This is in addition to ensuring that opportunities are clearly communicated to staff in ways that promote uptake. A competent adult education training provider will also be willing to enter into a comprehensive learning agreement with you. Such a service level agreement includes details of the partnership in terms resources; staffing; and how employees will be recruited for adult basic education. It may also detail what records of ABET training will be kept and who has access to them.

Also work with unions if your workforce is unionised. They can help to encourage workers to participate in adult education programs. Moreover, they can assist in developing resilience if workers struggle with AET training. Refer to https://core.ac.uk/download/pdf/84288165.pdf for more reading on this topic.

Importantly, measure the impact on your basic education skills training. Note if there has been an improvement in compliance with regulations, as well as performance and productivity. Is there an improvement in workplace communication and a reduction in recruitment costs as a result of adult basic education? AET training also reduces errors and the risk of reputational damage which can be measured. This is in addition to a reduction in risk of cyberattacks.

Learn more about Triple E Training and how we are establishing the benchmark in training for staff development. 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.