Ignoring the fundamentals for semi-skilled workers is a high risk, short sighted strategy.
The only way for employers to ensure their semi-skilled people have the necessary skills to perform at their best and make a significant contribution to the company is for them to be competent in fundamental skills. And the most effective way to get those fundamentals right is through a Foundational Learning Competence (FLC) programme.
Employees who have fundamentals (English and Mathematics) in place are well suited for learnerships and usually complete the learnership. This, in turn, promotes a sense of accomplishment and personal growth in employees, which improves morale, competency and productivity within a company.
Normally, employers will plan their BBBEE scores before even starting with learnerships. But, as soon as they want to start the learnerships, they discover they cannot do so due to there being no foundational learning competence in place.
They will then have an unplanned eight months delay, and at that stage it will be too late to do anything about it.
FLC is intended for employees who are semi-skilled, have a matric certificate but are still struggling to enter a learnership and need a bridging programme for English and Maths at matric level. It’s especially for those who don’t believe they have a problem but are struggling with an internship or learnership.
Essentially, if an employee doesn’t have an FLC qualification or a matric qualification, they will not be allowed onto a learnership. A “gate” has now been installed and the gate has been locked. FLC is equivalent to Grade 12, so someone who does not have a Grade 12 with pure Maths and English will need to undergo an FLC programme.
If therefore employees don’t meet the prerequisites, they can’t obtain a qualification. This is a huge issue because very few employers are aware of this.
The first place to start, then, is with assessments, which will show the way for an employee’s learning journey. Based on their assessment results, an employee would enter either an Adult Basic Education and Training (ABET) programme or a bridging programme, and then a learnership as per the assessment results. The FLC programme would act as the bridging programme.
Of course, if they’re not competent to proceed with an FLC programme, they may have to do a level three or level four English and Maths AET before they enter the FLC programme. FLC is designed for adults who do not have English and Maths at a Grade 12 level so that they can get entry into a learnership. And learnerships are designed for people who do not have a matric but have got the work experience. The one good thing about learnerships is that they validate somebody who, for example, has been a forklift driver for 10 years.
The aim, therefore, is to get everybody to go through the process to end up with a learnership that gives them a qualification that includes being able to speak English correctly and to do Maths so that they are linguistically and numerically literate.
Sadly, many semi-skilled employees are allowed to go through the process without mastering the fundamentals (English and Maths) because they are being coached with the answers in the fundamentals, which is not doing the employee or the employer any favours.
It’s a very short sighted strategy to allow an employee to be a forklift driver or a welder without giving them the fundamental skills. By getting the fundamentals right, a company sets itself up for efficiency, productivity and profitability.
No architect, structural engineer or builder would think of doing away with the foundation of a building to save time and money. They understand that the building will very quickly collapse, resulting in a loss of life, facilities and money. In the same way, employers who fail to provide semi-skilled employees with fundamental skills are effectively building on no foundation.
Marinda Clack is an Expert Training and Development Advisor at Triple E Training.