This article appeared 9th of October, 2013.
First results of the OECD’s PIAAC survey were launched yesterday, Tuesday 8th of October in Paris.
The programme’s aim is to produce comparable information about adults’ skill levels. The survey will be carried out in 33 countries and measures the key workplace and cognitive skills needed for individuals to participate successfully in society and for economies. Tuesday’s results cover 24 countries.
Some general findings of the survey
Adult education does not reach the already low-skilled
-The study calls for strong basic education coupled with more accessible adult education.
-Skills success depends increasingly on nonformal and informal learning.
-However, adult education does not seem to reach those with already poor skills. Extending adult education opportunities to all is a central policy challenge.
-The survey measured three skills categories: literacy, numeracy and problem-solving (digital literacy). There are profound inequalities in these skills across countries and within countries.
-For example, every fifth Finn and Japanese read at a high level, compared to every twentieth Italian or Spaniard.
-There are wide gaps in skills between age groups, with older generations faring worse in digital literacy.
-Scandinavian countries, the Netherlands and Japan perform above average in all three skills categories.
-E.g. UK, USA, France, Italy and Spain are below the average in all three skills categories.
Skills determined by social class?
-In the UK, US, Germany, Poland and Italy poor performance in skills seems to be more determined by social background
-The opposite is true for Australia, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden, which
combine above-average performance with a high level of equity.
Major gaps in computer literacy
-In nearly all countries a tenth of population lack the most elementary computer skills.
Migrants at risk
-In most countries, immigrants with a foreign-language background have significantly lower proficiency in literacy and numeracy than native-born adults.
The debate is on
The publication of the first results kickstarted national debates and analyses. Next week LLinE will feature national experts from, among others, Norway, Italy, the UK and Slovakia, discussing what the results mean for these countries.
”PIAAC” stands for Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies. Its nickname “PISA for adults” perhaps captures better the programme’s essence.With PIAAC, the OECD aims to carry out the largest assessment of adults’ workplace skills ever attempted in industrialised countries.
PIAAC departs from the notion that the global economy and the information age require new skills from the workforce. The biggest question is: do our workforces have up-to-date skill sets to compete in today’s globalized economy? The results may have wide-ranging consequences for policy and education planning in the participating countries.
The programme’s aim is to produce comparable information about adults’ skill levels. The survey is carried out in 33 countries and measures the key workplace and cognitive skills needed for individuals to participate successfully in society and for economies.