Defined as language, literacy and numeracy, and employability skills, foundation skills are essential for individuals to participate in further education, employment and wider society. Community education providers, such as community colleges, neighbourhood houses, faith-based organisations and adult learning associations, are key providers of foundation skills training. The characteristics of community education providers, such as their relatively small scale and flexibility in teaching strategies, make them particularly suitable for providing such training. Despite this, the impact of foundation skills training delivered by community education providers on education and employment outcomes and involvement in society is not well known, particularly in regional areas where the foundation skill levels of adults tend to be lower than in metropolitan areas.
This research investigates the contribution that community education providers make to foundation skills training in regional Australia, the models of delivery which seemed to work best, and whether the undertaking of foundation skills training helped build the social and human capital of the individual and broader community.
- Proportionally more regional community education providers deliver foundation skills training than other regional training providers.
- Between 2018 and 2019 however, enrolments in foundation skills subjects with regional community education providers declined whereas enrolments with other regional providers remained steady. Regional community education providers reported difficulty in securing sufficient funding and appropriately qualified staff, which may explain the recent decline.
- A higher proportion of foundation skills subjects in regional areas were completed by students with community education providers than with other training providers. Little is known though about the education or employment pathways after foundation skills training due to limited capacity by regional community education providers to track student outcomes.
- The positive impact of foundation skills training on an individual’s social and human capital was viewed as improved levels of self-confidence and self-worth among students, and development of soft skills. Any broader impact at the community level is yet to be determined.