Essential Skills

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Unit 301:Adults and Young People as Essential Skills Learners

Essential skills play a fundamental part in everyone’s lives no matter who you are. Essential Skills are the skills that people need for learning, work and life. They are used in the community and the workplace, in different forms and at different levels of complexity. Essential Skills provide the foundation for learning all other skills and enable people to evolve with their jobs and adapt to workplace change. They are needed for basic tasks such as: answering a telephone, making a shopping list, helping a child with their homework, reading bus timetables, road signs and medication. They help people gain confidence, motivation, self worth and better job prospects. Essential skills are defined by the Welsh Government as:-

“The ability to read, write and speak in English/Welsh and use mathematics at a level necessary to function and progress in work and in society in general”

The consequences learners can face due to lack of essential skills could be a feeling of worthlessness, depression, an inability to manage your own finances, unable to effectively run a household or even help a child with their homework. These personal consequences would make living in our society very difficult as they would most likely be unemployed, are likely to be in poor health due to lack of nutrition and less likely to be involved in the community due to lack of confidence.

There are many reasons people may have an essential skills need. It can be a result of many different personal, social or economical aspects of an individual’s life. A personal reason could be a factor from home, a parent’s separation or just not having the support from parents which could lead to low self esteem, low confidence and a fear of failing. Socially, a learner could have financial difficulties or live in rural areas, which would make it difficult to travel to the location of a class; also the cost of travel would be an issue. This could leave the learner feeling isolated which could affect their social skills. An economic reason could be the high unemployment rate which in turn affects the individual’s ability to learn which could then lead to anxiety and not wanting to attend the class. I have a learner completing his essential skills at level 2. Andrew is aged 22 and is working as an Apprentice IT Consultant. When I first met Andrew I was not aware he suffered from Dyspraxia, he had high marks on his initial assessment, and came across as very outgoing and confident on our first visit.

I found out that Andrew loves to visit the Czech Republic and is a devout Hindu. He is in a band in his spare time and is always doing things to help others. Andrew loves learning new things, and has taken it upon himself to learn German, Czech and focus on passing his driving test.

After a few visits with Andrew, we had built up enough trust for him to confide in me about his Dyspraxia. I could see he was losing concentration really easily on our visits, but thought he just needed more interesting tasks to complete. He always found the hardest way to complete tasks, so I just thought he was being awkward. His writing was barely legible, but I put this down to him rushing what he was doing. It all fell into place as soon as he told me about his Dyspraxia, and I could tell it was a weight off his mind too. Andrew explained to me that he is over confident in the way he speaks and acts to compensate for the fact he struggles sometimes with the symptoms of his Dyspraxia.

Dyspraxia is the term used when someone has an inability to carry out and co-ordinate skilled, purposeful movements and gestures with normal accuracy. Someone with dyspraxia has difficulty planning and organising their thought processes (planning what to do and how to do it). They may also have associated problems with language. Dyspraxia is also known as developmental co-ordination disorder.

Dyspraxia affects people in the...
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