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Foundation Skills


This page provides information and data on the Foundation Skills (FSK) Training Package, which is a critical element of Australia's vocational education and training system.

The FSK Training Package specialises in supporting and preparing learners to access education and work opportunities, allowing for pathways into vocational training that would not otherwise be available. It is designed to provide learners with some of the key skills required to enter or succeed in the workforce or in vocational training, such as core language, literacy and numeracy skills. The FSK Training Package allows flexible and targeted learning support to be implemented when and where needed. It also allows foundation skills support whilst undertaking vocational or on-the-job training.

The Case for Endorsement for Foundation Skills (FSK) was approved by the AISC in August 2019. Resulting changes to the Training Package can be viewed in the Case for Endorsement document. It is expected that these changes will be reflected on the website by the end of 2019.

Nationally recognised training for foundation skills is delivered under the FSK – Foundation Skills Training Package.

Information sourced from the Education IRC's 2019 Skills Forecast.

All data sources are available at the end of the page.

IRC and Skills Forecasts

Training trends

Training snapshot

Program enrolments in Foundation Skills-related qualifications have risen year on year between 2015 and 2018, with a sharp rise in enrolments between 2016 and 2017. Enrolments peaked in 2018 at around 57,870. Program completions have more than tripled in this period, with approximately 15,030 completions in 2018. There has also been strong growth in subject-only enrolments in this period, with a sharp rise from about 17,860 in 2017 to a peak of almost 31,570 in 2018.

In 2018, almost two thirds of all program enrolments were at the certificate II level (close to 37,860 enrolments). All other program enrolments were at the certificate I level (just less than 20,020 enrolments). More than 65% of program enrolments are in the Certificate II in Skills for Work and Vocational Pathways, with the remaining enrolments in the certificate I programs (Access to Vocational Pathways and Skills for Vocational Pathways).

The majority of training was provided by TAFE institutes (35%), private training providers (28%), and schools (23%). The majority of subjects were Commonwealth and state funded (81%).

Queensland had the single highest proportion of students enrolled in Foundation Skills-related qualifications in 2018, with 52%, followed by New South Wales with 16% and Victoria with 15%. More than half of all training was delivered in Queensland (53%), followed by New South Wales (17%) and Victoria (15%).

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Industry insights

Industry insights on skills needs

The National Foundation Skills Strategy for Adults aims to equip at least two thirds of working age Australians with literacy and numeracy skills at level 3 or above (benchmarked to the Programme for International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC)) by 2022.

On page 3 of the report Building Skills for All in Australia: Policy Insights from the Survey of Adult Skills, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) states that: “By international standards, Australia's performance ranges from very good to average. Although these results are not poor, “average” may lead to Australia being left behind in terms of innovation and economic growth by countries that have been more successfully investing in the skills of their people. An estimated three million adult Australians are living with the consequences of low basic skills.”

The Australian Industry Group's 2018 Workforce Development Needs Survey provided an important gauge of employer sentiment around skill needs, education and training at a critical time for industry transformation. The Survey report Skilling: a National Imperative, identified critical skill issues facing Australian businesses, including that 99% of employers (up from 96% in 2016) are affected in some way by low levels of literacy and numeracy in their workforce. This is disturbing at a time when the workforce increasingly requires foundation skills that include not only literacy and numeracy but digital literacy and advanced soft skills.

The Joyce Review stated that given the importance of foundation skills for both employment and social engagement, the Government should prioritise additional funding to improve access to language, literacy, numeracy and digital (LLND) training. A lack of foundation skills clearly limits the quality of life and employment opportunities for a significant group of Australians, and it is likely to leave them particularly vulnerable to future changes to work. It makes sense that one of the key ways to share the benefits of a strong and growing 21st century economy is to ensure every adult Australian is given the opportunity to participate fully in that economy. Making such a commitment will improve social cohesion and ensure every Australian gets an opportunity to succeed. The Review proposed that all adult Australians who have not achieved Level 2 on the Australian Core Skills Framework (ACSF) should be given access to fee-free training in LLND skills.

The Education IRC's 2019 Skills Forecast highlights that 44% of adult Australians have literacy skills lower than what is considered to be required to operate effectively in workplaces and 55% have numeracy skills lower than that level. The learner cohort that FSK training is targeted at may have complex needs beyond requiring core skills; these learners may also face economic and social barriers to access training or employment.

According to the Education IRC's 2019 Skills Forecast, the FSK Training Package is essential in ensuring that as many people as possible have access to educational and work opportunities. However, feedback from industry and providers strongly indicates that the Training Package is failing to deliver this outcome. Reasons for these prevailing challenges include:

  • The foundation skills of Australian adults still need improvement
  • Uptake of the Training Package has not met original expectations, possibly due to issues with Training Package content and structure
  • Industry has indicated that the Training Package requires review to address a number of issues including skills gaps, inconsistencies in delivery, poor visibility of Units of Competencies (UoCs) and the need for clarity of learning outcomes.

Following extensive consultation and work reviewing and revising the FSK Training Package, the Case for Endorsement for Foundation Skills (FSK) was approved by the AISC in August 2019. Resulting changes to the Training Package can be viewed in the Case for Endorsement document. It is expected that these changes will be reflected on the website by the end of 2019.

Links and resources

Data sources and notes

Training data has been extracted from the National VET Provider Collection, Total VET Students and Courses from the following training package or qualifications:

  • FSK – Foundation Skills Training Package
    • FSK10113 - Certificate I in Access to Vocational Pathways
    • FSK10213 - Certificate I in Skills for Vocational Pathways
    • FSK20113 - Certificate II in Skills for Work and Vocational Pathways.

This includes superseded qualifications and training packages.

Data covers a range of selected student and training characteristics in the following categories and years:

  • 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 program enrolments
  • 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 subject enrolments
  • 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 program completions.

Total VET students and courses data is reported for the calendar year. Program enrolments are the qualifications, courses and skill-sets in which students are enrolled in a given period. For students enrolled in multiple programs, all programs are counted. Program completion indicates that a student has completed a structured and integrated program of education or training. Location data uses student residence. Subject enrolment is registration of a student at a training delivery location for the purpose of undertaking a module, unit of competency or subject. For more information on the terms and definitions, please refer to the Total VET students and courses: terms and definitions document.

Low counts (less than 5) are not reported to protect client confidentiality.

Percentages are rounded to one decimal place. This can lead to situations where the total sum of proportions in a chart may not add up to exactly 100%.

Priority skills data have been extracted from the Education IRC's 2019 Skills Forecast.

Updated: 03 Feb 2020
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