How to incorporate foundation skills in vocational education and training

This is the second of two articles covering foundation skills in the Australian VET system. It explains how to incorporate foundation skills when we design and develop competency-based training.

The following 5 steps aim to give some practical tools and a simple procedure to incorporate foundation skills into our training:

  • Step 1. Create a table with a list of the Foundation Skills
  • Step 2. Create a Performance Criteria / Foundation Skills matrix
  • Step 3. Analyse the Foundation Skills
  • Step 4. Determine a timeframe for the training agenda
  • Step 5. Develop a Training Matrix

It is desirable to integrate foundation skills as you deliver the training. This is better than keeping foundation skills separate from learning how to perform a work task or activity.

Some Training Packages are mandating the assessment of the foundation skills. For example, the Performance Evidence for the BSBOPS101 Use business resources unit states:

“The candidate must demonstrate the ability to complete the tasks outlined in the elements, performance criteria and foundation skills of this unit …”

Therefore, we will often need to ensure that we deliver training so that the foundation skills are learnt. I acknowledge that some learners may already have the specified foundation skills but some learners will not.

Step 1. Create a table with a list of the Foundation Skills

Foundation skills are documented in the units of competency, after the elements and performance criteria.

Copy the foundation skills from the unit of competency. For example, the following are the Foundation Skills for the BSBOPS101 Use business resources unit.

Add a column for notes

This can be done very quickly. You are creating a template to assist you to analyse each Foundation Skill and you will record your analysis in the ‘Notes’ column. This template will be used in Step 3.

Step 2. Create a Performance Criteria / Foundation Skills matrix

Foundation Skills are not stand-alone skills. They are the identified foundations for the performance of the work tasks. Work tasks could not be performed safely or effectively without having the Foundation Skills.

The performance of work tasks is described by the Performance Criteria. We need to make the connection between Performance Criteria and Foundation Skills. Without this connection, Foundation Skills lack meaning.

In this example, it is important to note that the headings for Foundation Skills must be read in conjunction with the specific description from the BSBOPS101 Use business resources unit.

Step 3. Analyse the Foundation Skills

Use the Performance Criteria / Foundation Skills matrix (from Set 2) and the Foundation Skills template (from Step 1) to analyse the scope of each Foundation Skill and how it connects with the Performance Criteria.

Performance Criteria / Foundation Skills matrix

The following is a completed example of a Performance Criteria / Foundation Skills matrix for the BSBOPS101 Use business resources unit. It must be read in conjunction with the Foundation Skills template (see below).

Foundation Skills template

The following is a completed example of a Foundation Skills template for the BSBOPS101 Use business resources unit.

Step 4. Determine a timeframe for the training agenda

For this example, let us say we are going to allocate on day to deliver training for the BSBOPS101 Use business resources unit. The following is a sample agenda for the training day.

Step 5. Develop a Training Matrix

The Training Matrix is used to ensure there is a plan to cover all Performance Criteria and Foundation Skills during the training.

Performance Criteria 2.2 is ‘identify resource shortages or faults and take action to ensure issue is resolved’. The following additional details shows how the Foundation Skills connect with the Performance Criteria when operating a printer. Typical tasks may include:

  • Refill paper
  • Replace toner cartridges
  • Fix simple paper jams
  • Report complex paper jams and faults
  • Reorder paper, toner cartridges, and other consumables.

The above is an example showing how specific Foundation Skills should be seamlessly incorporated into the delivery of training covering the performance of a work task. This example is only for operating a printer. The same analysis would need to be done for using other office equipment, such as: binding machines, laminator, coffee machine, etc. And the same analysis would need to be done for other Performance Criteria.

In conclusion

I have used a simple example to demonstrate how to incorporate foundation skills when designing and developing competency-based training. This procedure will work. However, for some units of competency you may need to use a ‘landscape orientation’ for the documents rather than ‘portrait’. And you will need time to do the analysis and mapping.

Some learners will need training to help them learn the foundation skills. And it is better to integrate the foundation skills when the person is learning how to perform the work tasks or activities. This approach will give context and purpose each foundation skill.

The 5-step procedure described in this article will become useful as more Training Packages mandate the assessment of foundation skills.

Do you need help with your TAE studies?

Are you doing the TAE40116 or TAE40122 Certificate IV in Training and Assessment, and are you struggling with your studies? Do you want help with your TAE40116 or TAE40122 studies?

Ring Alan Maguire on 0493 065 396 to discuss.

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Training trainers since 1986

Author: Alan Maguire

35+ years experience as a trainer, instructional designer, quality manager, project manager, program manager, RTO auditor, RTO manager and VET adviser.

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