Education International
Education International

The first results of the survey of Adult Skills - Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC)

published 10 December 2013 updated 11 December 2013

The OECD's PIAAC survey is the first world-wide survey on adults' skills. It tested literacy, numeracy and problem solving ICT skills of adults aged 16-65. PIAAC covers only 17 countries from Europe.

According to the results, those who are highly educated like to participate in adult learning, have higher salary and better job.

The results are shocking: 1 out of 5 adults have low skills in numeracy and literacy. 1 out of 4 adults are low skilled in ICT.  57 million adults lack literacy skills and 68 million adults lack numeracy skills. The adults in Japan, Finland, and in the Netherlands are the top achievers in the PIAAC tests, while Poland, Ireland, France, Spain are the lowest achievers, with Italy scoring the lowest rate. Surprisingly, having tertiary education does not provide great difference in skills in around half of the OECD countries. However, the VET graduated achieved much less than the general secondary school education graduates.

17% of European adults are completely illiterate in ICT, which means that they have never used computer or did not know how to highlight a sentence or move the mouse.  For example 27% of the Italians and 26% of the Polish adults are completely illiterate in ICT.   Those with a low level of ICT skills achieved at the same time a poorer result in the tests on literacy and numeracy.

The younger adults are more willing to improve their skills than the people in the age group of 55-65. The difference of skills between the young and old is the highest in Korea, Spain, France and Germany. In the US there is no difference. The OECD website provide access to national data.