Numeracy support vital in trades

Numeracy support vital in trades

An LLN teacher assisting the students to read plans      Some mathematics formula and equations on the chalk board

Supporting apprenticeship completions is a key issue for the Commonwealth Government which is working on a new apprenticeship support system. In its latest discussion paper DEWR has proposed a model of support services including foundation skills support.

There are some great programs across Australia which support apprenticeship completions through providing integrated language, literacy and numeracy support. One such example is highlighted below.

Integrated numeracy support in Carpentry and Electro-Technology has resulted in improved apprenticeship completion at the TAFE NSW Northern Beaches campus.

Their Language, Literacy and Numeracy (LLN) team supports the maths required for Carpentry and Electro-Technology through targeted and flexible team-teaching approaches. The vocational and LLN teachers work closely together to ensure that the apprentices feel they are well supported and given every chance to succeed.

Carpentry courses

The Carpentry Department has over five hundred students participating throughout the year. Before starting the course, the LLN teachers complete an initial learner profile for each student, gauging their LLN skills levels. These profiles consistently show that most Carpentry students find maths difficult.

As a result, the LLN teachers provide support in the workshops by providing the bridge between abstract mathematical concepts and the reality of how this is applied to actual scenarios. This encourages student belief and confidence in their ability to succeed. Being part of the class helps the LLN teachers build confidence within the students and also with the Carpentry teachers.


In Electrotechnology, the LLN team provides tutorial support in conjunction with the Electro teachers each week.

Students can make one-on-one appointments with a member of the LLN team in the Learning Centre for both Carpentry and Electrotechnology.

Success is underpinned by the strong grounding in maths which the teachers bring to the classroom, and their ability to connect it to the trades that use maths in complex field situations.

Providing these support alternatives has been beneficial to the students achieving a high rate of success in their chosen field. This is evident in the increasing number who are successfully completing their apprenticeships, and the positive feedback the students provide to the teaching staff about their improved levels of confidence in mathematics.