Industry Skills Fund •

Commonwealth Government your say

The $476 million Industry Skills Fund is a key element in the Australian Government's National Industry Investment and Competitiveness Agenda and will provide up to 200,000 training places and support services over four years.


Webinar - 'Building Strength with Numeracy' free VALBEC resources

ACAL and QCAL had a webinar on using the free VALBEC numeracy resources. Over 100 people joined in while the author, Beth Marr, took us through some strategic thinking as well as presentation tips.

This event is now concluded but you can still watch it.

YouTube and numeracy logo

Download the free resources

Productivity Commission working paper - Literacy and Numeracy skills and Labour Market outcomes in Australia.

Productivity Commission paperLiteracy and numeracy skills form part of a person’s ‘human capital’, and are important for economic and social participation.

Research for Australia has found that having better literacy and numeracy skills increases the likelihood of positive labour market outcomes. This paper profiles the literacy and numeracy skills of Australia’s adult population and assesses how important they are for two labour market outcomes – employment and wages.

See the full document.

2014 Excellence in Language, Literacy and Numeracy Practice Award - Apply now!

Ros Bauer 2013 winner The Australian Training Awards are the peak, national awards for the vocational education and training (VET) sector, recognising individuals, businesses and registered training organisations for their contribution to skilling Australia.

The Excellence in Language, Literacy and Numeracy (LLN) Practice Award recognises innovation and excellence by an individual involved in improving LLN skills in an educational, community or workplace context.

Applications close Friday 30 May 2014.

More or phone 13 38 73.

Membership renewal


Renewal invoices have been sent to members (no change in fee). Help us by renewing promptly.

You can renew online using your credit card and PayPal or return your form and pay with cheque or direct deposit.

Foundation Skills Assessment Tool (FSAT)

Magnifying glassThe Foundation Skills Assessment Tool (FSAT) is to be targeted at appropriately trained and qualified VET practitioners and would provide an assessment of an individual’s foundation skill levels using two Australian Government frameworks - the Australian Core Skills Framework (ACSF) and the Core Skills for Work (CSfW) Developmental Framework. In addition the tool would assist in targeting foundation skill interventions to a maximum benefit and enable reporting on foundation skills training in a consistent way.

ACER is interested in hearing from interested VET and employment services providers to be involved in focus groups and trials in order to provide feedback and to trial and test the assessment system and the questions to be used in the various assessments.


Mathematics pathways for VET students

UTAS logoThe University of Tasmania is leading an Office of Learning and Teaching Grant, ‘Development of mathematics pathways for VET students to articulate to related higher education courses’. Flinders University, University of Notre Dame Australia and James Cook University are partners on this project along with TasTAFE, West Coast Institute and Tropical North Queensland TAFE.

During this first year we are developing pathways for Education (with a focus on primary and early childhood) and Engineering and starting in 2014 we will be developing pathways into Business and Health Sciences. The project will link specific VET qualifications with related HE courses and identifying the gap of maths competencies between the two, then developing resources and/or courses to fill the gap.

All of the resources developed will be available as open education resources and accessed through the project website. The initial two pathways for Education and Engineering are in the final stages of development and we are interested in getting the word out about the project.

The website with the Education pathway and all learning modules will be live in 2014

Responses to the Foundation Skills Workforce Development Project consultation

Foundation Skills Workforce Development logoWho is a foundation skills specialist?

Is there a foundation skills field?

Answers to these questions are being explored through a national project to scope the development of a foundation skills professional standards framework.

The scoping project was intended to generate discussion among those working in foundation skills to define and strengthen the identity of the field, advance the status and standing of the profession and explore options for developing professional standards.

More about the project


Here are the responses from ACAL and from the states.

PIAAC Results 2013 (Programme for International Assessment of Adult Competencies)

PIAAC logoPIAAC is an international survey of adult skills in the areas of literacy, numeracy and problem solving.

Thanks to Jan Hagston, Multifangled P/L, member PIAAC Literacy Expert group and Dave Tout, ACER, member PIAAC Numeracy Expert group for this article on PIAAC.

  • What is PIAAC?

  • What do the preliminary results tell us?

  • What don’t the results tell us?

  • Why take part in surveys like PIAAC?

  • What next?

International Assessment of Adult Competencies

The Australian Bureau of Statistics released the preliminary findings of the OECD Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC). An iteration of the 2006/7 Adult Literacy and Lifeskills Survey (ALLS), PIAAC assesses adults' proficiency in literacy and numeracy and problem-solving in a technology rich environment.

The Australian Council of Education Research (ACER), in its media release 'International study reveals serious adult literacy and numeracy problems', says 'Australia still has much to do in the area of workplace and vocational education and training (VET)'. The ACER questions 'whether trainers, teachers and learner support staff in the VET sector themselves have the skills and tools' to identify LLN skills of their learners, and whether 'they have the skills, resources and time to actively develop learners' literacy and numeracy ...'.

It is easy to feel alarmed by the PIAAC statistics (44% in the lowest two bands for literacy, 55% in the lowest two brands for numeracy) and as practitioners, to distrust what we know about our learners and/ or our own skills and practices of working with our learners.

Adult literacy and numeracy provision, policy and practices must be informed by a range of sources - not excluding the PIAAC, but including practitioners' own experiences, our learners' voices, and the wealth of other studies and research that are available to us.

PIAAC results and their implications for adult literacy and numeracy must be examined and debated closely and critically by all stakeholders. ACAL is providing the opportunity for all those interested in adult literacy and numeracy to do just that at our annual conference in October. ACAL has invited Professor Mary Hamilton, an international leader in adult literacy research and Dr Jeff Evans, an adult numeracy researcher and member of the international numeracy expert team in the design of PIAAC to speak to the conference and engage us in a discussion about how we can understand the PIAAC and how we might respond.

In the meantime, ACAL members might read the excellent Fine Print articles by Mary Hamilton and Geri Pancini, both of whom help us to understand the crisis discourse created by studies such as ALLS and PIAAC.

Hamilton, M 2012, Adult literacy in a global marketplace, Fine Print, 35(2), 14-18, 22.

Pancini, G 2012, Deconstructing the literacy crisis, Fine Print, 35(3), 3-7, 40.

Glossary of terms

The NCVER website has a glossary of terms that are very useful and updated regularly. The glossary includes:

  • VET terms and concepts, including adult and continuing education and lifelong learning

  • Australian VET organisations and some key international VET organisations

  • Key Australian historical documents

  • VET-related acronyms.

Articles and publications

Literacy and Numeracy Studies: An international journal in the education and training of adults

Access the journal.


New readers will need to register, but there is no cost.


2014 Conference

2014 Conference logo


Taking the Lead

Taking the Lead website screenshot

This is a one-stop shop for information and advice on developing core language, literacy and numeracy (LLN) skills in the service industries.