Basic Skill Development Programmatic


Entry-level employees don’t always have the reading, math, technology, or English language skills to excel in their current position or advance their career. Offering basic skills instruction in the workplace, especially when tailored to healthcare context, improves job performance and helps remove barriers to advancement. For many workers, taking a basic skills course is the first step toward increasing their education, for example, earning a high school diploma, participating in a job training program, or earning a certification. When combined with career coaching and support, all of these can ultimately lead to more career opportunities and advancement.


Employers use different strategies to deliver basic skills training, depending on resources and other factors. Some employers offer fundamental skills assessment, education, or training utilizing their own staff and resources, while others rely on community partners to provide these services. Whichever delivery strategy is followed, here are a few common steps to get started:

  • Assess needs: There are numerous tools that assess the knowledge and skill level employees need for current jobs and career advancement. Conduct an assessment and analyze the results to identify the most common skills gaps. Often a career coach is involved in the assessment process.
  • Consider logistics: How will training be delivered (online, classroom)? When will it be offered (before, during, or after work hours)? Where will classes be held (onsite, partner location, online)? Who will teach and train (internal staff or external partner)? Finally, what support (paid training, transportation, child care) is necessary to help employees reach their educational goals?
  • Engage employees: As you assess needs and plan logistics, ask employees about skills they would like to learn and what their needs and comfort level are for a learning environment.
  • Design the program: It is important to recognize that an effective learning program isn’t simply about the curriculum. Designing a basic skills program involves a detailed timeline, support services, a marketing plan, an incentive strategy to keep students engaged as they reach key milestones, data collection, and evaluation of student progress.
  • Implement: Review and revise related policies, recruit internal teaching staff or execute MOUs with training partners, set up the course of study, recruit students, and launch the learning course.
  • Evaluate: gather participant feedback, outcome data, and adjust for continuous improvement.

Relationships are critical for success: Admitting that you need basic skills training is not easy. It can make people feel very vulnerable. Successful programs employ coaches, managers, or mentors who excel at building trusting relationships, so employees will feel safe as they open up about needing and wanting to learn new skills.


SOFT SKILLS Upskilling Planning Guide, Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp) and UpSkill America, 2018.

A planning guide for building a soft skill training program.

A Guide to Upskilling America’s Frontline Workers, Deloitte and the Aspen Institute, 2015.

A handbook for employers to upskill their existing workforce.

Council on Adult Education and Learning

A national nonprofit that works at all levels within the higher education, public and private sectors to make it easier for people to get the education and training they need.

Catalyst Learning Company

An organization that provides high quality skill and career development programs for frontline healthcare workers.

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