What is Advancing Workplace Learning?

We have all heard about the impact of changing demographics and increasing skills requirements on businesses and employees. We know the skills demanded within workplaces will continue to change and this can create skills gaps. Advancing Workplace Learning (AWL) is about helping employers find manageable ways to develop their own skills and the skills of their workforce. Employers can enhance workplace practices through Workplace Literacy and Essential Skills (WLES).

Looking at workplaces through an essential skills lens we can often identify opportunities to refresh, learn or grow foundational skills. Many employers have found building essential skills into the everyday work environment can help address the safety, business and people issues and challenges they are facing, and improve the workplace against core goals and metrics at the same time.

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Workplace Literacy and Essential Skills

Workplace Literacy and Essential Skills (WLES) are the core or foundation skills used to learn and apply other skills needed in the workplace and in everyday life. WLES play a role in all aspects of a workplace.

Essential skills needs, supports and challenges apply not only to employees, but also to clients and customers. For employers, paying attention to essential skills can mean adjusting training, developing clear communication practices and improving work processes and standards. The outcomes can be a competent and adaptable workforce and improvements to work practices and processes. For employees essential skills are the skills needed to effectively do their jobs and adapt to changes. And for clients and customers essential skills are the skills they need to access and use services and products.

These definitions complement our understanding of core skills. Traditional definitions of literacy as mastery of reading and writing apply, but we nuance our definition with reading, and interpreting graphs and text together and most importantly with interpreting the workplace culture. We consider other aspects of work such as team work, communication, and computer (or digital) skills.

Work itself is a rich learning environment, with many problems to solve and opportunities for learning and training in planned and unplanned ways. Workplace learning then, is a rich and rewarding area for both the employee and the employer. A strong foundation of learning skills — literacy and essential skills — support all other learning at work.

Why Workplace Learning