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Literacy, Numeracy and Problem Solving in Technology-Rich Environments – Framework for the OECD Survey of Adult Skills

This report maps the development of the Survey of Adult Skills, from determining what should be measured, to defining the meaning of PIAAC’s three core domains—“literacy,” “numeracy,” and “problem solving in technology-rich environments”—to designing assessment tasks and determining how those tasks will be interpreted. It summarizes the draft frameworks developed by dedicated experts for each of the assessment domains, and includes examples of the items and stimuli used to measure proficiency in the three domains. In essence, it provides an overview and a look at the underpinnings of PIAAC

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Skills Matter: Further Results from the Survey of Adult Skills (2016)

This volume reports results from the 24 countries and regions that participated in the first round of the survey in 2011–12 (first published in OECD Skills Outlook 2013: First Results from the Survey of Adult Skills) and from the nine additional countries that participated in the second round in 2014–15 (Chile, Greece, Indonesia [Jakarta], Israel, Lithuania, New Zealand, Singapore, Slovenia, and Turkey). It describes adults’ proficiency in the three information-processing skills assessed, and examines how skills proficiency is related to labour-market and social outcomes.

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The Survey of Adult Skills: Reader’s Companion, Second Edition (2016)

The Survey of Adult Skills: Reader’s Companion, Second Edition, describes the design and methodology of the survey and its relationship to other international assessments of young students and adults. It is a companion volume to Skills Matter: Further Results from the Survey of Adult Skills.

 

 

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OECD Skills Outlook 2013: First Results from the Survey of Adult Skills (2013)

The Survey of Adult Skills, a product of the OECD Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC), was designed to provide insights into the availability of some of key skills in society and how they are used at work and at home. The first survey of its kind, it directly measures proficiency in several information-processing skills—namely, literacy, numeracy and problem solving in technology-rich environments. This first edition of OECD Skills Outlook reports results from the countries and regions that participated in the first round of the Survey of Adult Skills.

 

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The Survey of Adult Skills – Reader’s Companion (2013)

This reader’s companion for the Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC) explains what the survey measures and the methodology behind the measurements, provides content of the background questionnaires, examines the relationship between this survey and other skills surveys, as well the issues of ‘key competencies" and measurements of human capital.

             

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Skilled for Life? Key Findings from the Survey of Adult Skills

A 32-page brochure presenting the key findings from the Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC).

 

 


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Analysing Adults’ Skills: Proceedings of the 2nd International PIAAC Conference (Haarlem, Working Papers 2015)

This volume collects a selection of papers from the 2nd International PIAAC Conference, jointly organized by OECD and the Dutch government in November 2015 in Haarlem, the Netherlands. The three papers collected in this volume represent the work of scholars who were invited to present their work at the plenary session of the conference. The authors are all renowned scholars in their respective fields. Each of the papers represents an important contribution to the better understanding of issues of labour-market and education policy that are at the centre of the policy concerns of many governments.

 

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Education, Labour Market Experience and Cognitive Skills (OECD Education Working Papers, No. 146)

This paper examines how formal education and experience in the labour market correlate with measures of human capital available in the Survey of Adult Skills, a product of the OECD Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC). The findings are consistent with the notion that, in producing human capital, work experience substitutes for formal education at the bottom of the schooling distribution. First, the number of years of working experience correlates with literacy proficiency only among low-educated individuals. Secondly, low-educated workers who only perform simple tasks in their jobs (calculating percentages or reading e-mails) do better on numeracy and literacy tests than similar employees who do not perform those tasks. Thirdly, workers in jobs intensive in numeric tasks perform relatively better on the numeracy section of the PIAAC test than in the literacy part. Overall, our results suggest that the                                          contribution of on-the-job learning to skills formation is about a third of that of compulsory schooling in most of the countries that                                                    participated in PIAAC.

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Ageing and Literacy Skills (OECD Education Working Papers, No. 145)

This paper examines the relationship between age and literacy using data from the International Adult Literacy Survey (IALS), the Adult Literacy and Life Skills Survey (ALL), and the Survey of Adult Skills, a product of the OECD Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC). A negative partial relationship between literacy and age exists, with literacy declining with age, especially after age 45. However, this relationship could reflect some combination of age and birth cohort effects. The analysis shows that in most participating countries, the negative literacy–age profile observed in cross-sectional data arises from offsetting ageing and cohort effects. With some exceptions, more recent birth cohorts have lower levels of literacy, and individuals from a given birth cohort lose literacy skills after they leave school at a rate greater than that indicated by cross-sectional estimates. The results for birth cohorts suggest that there is                                    not a general tendency for literacy skills to decline from one generation to the next, but that the majority of the countries examined are                                          doing a poorer job of developing literacy skills in successive generations.

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“Graduate Jobs” in OECD countries – Analysis Using a New Indicator Based on High Skills Use (OECD Education Working Papers, No. 144)

A recurring issue for education policy-makers is the labour-market effect of the long-term global mass expansion of higher education, particularly on what are considered “graduate jobs.” The traditional assumption is that graduate jobs are virtually coterminous with professional and managerial occupations. A new indicator of graduate jobs, ISCO(HE)2008, is derived using task-based data drawn from the Survey of Adult Skills, a product of the OECD Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC). The new classification shows that several jobs in ISCO major group 3 “Technicians and Associate Professionals” are also classed as graduate jobs in many countries. Altogether, 27.6 per cent of jobs are classified as graduate jobs in the 15 OECD country-regions for which we have                                          data. Considerable variation in the proportion of graduate jobs is found across industries and countries, and in the short period since 2011,                                  the proportion of graduate jobs has become more diverse across countries.

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Literacy and Numeracy Proficiency in IALS, ALL and PIAAC (OECD Education Working Papers, No. 142)

This paper analyzes proficiency in literacy and numeracy in the countries that have participated in the International Adult Literacy Survey (IALS, administered between 1994 and 1998), the Adult Literacy and Life Skills Survey (ALL, administered between 2003 and 2007), and the Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC, administered in 2012). While many countries experienced small to modest changes in literacy proficiency between IALS and PIAAC, others saw sizeable variations, mostly on the negative side.

 

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Returns to ICT Skills (OECD Education Working Papers, No. 134)

How important is mastering information and communication technologies (ICTs) in modern labour markets? We present the first evidence on this question, drawing on unique data that provide internationally comparable information on ICT skills in 19 countries from the OECD Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC). Our identification strategy relies on the idea that Internet access is important to the formation of ICT skills, and we implement instrumental-variable models that leverage exogenous variation in Internet availability across countries and across German municipalities. ICT skills are substantially rewarded in the labour market: returns are at 8 per cent for a one-standard-deviation increase in ICT skills in the international analysis and are almost twice as large in Germany. Placebo estimations show that exogenous Internet availability cannot explain numeracy or literacy skills, suggesting that our identifying                                        variation is independent of a person’s general ability. Our results further suggest that the proliferation of computers complements workers                                    in executing abstract tasks that require ICT skills.

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Test-taking engagement in PIAAC (OECD Education Working Papers, No. 133)

In this study, we investigated how empirical indicators of test-taking engagement can be defined, empirically validated, and used to describe group differences in the context of the Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC). The approach was to distinguish between disengaged and engaged response behaviour by means of response-time thresholds.

 

 


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Age, ageing and skills – Results from the Survey of Adult Skills (OECD Education Working Papers, No. 132)

This paper presents a comprehensive analysis of the link between age and proficiency in information-processing skills, based on information drawn from the Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC). The data reveal significant age-related differences in proficiencies, strongly suggesting that proficiency tends to “naturally” decline with age. Age differences in proficiency are, at first sight, substantial. On average across the OECD countries participating in PIAAC, adults aged 55 to 65 score some 30 points lower than adults aged 25 to 34 on the PIAAC literacy scale, a difference only slightly smaller than the score-point difference between tertiary-educated and less-than-upper-secondary-educated individuals. However, despite their lower levels of proficiency, older individuals do not seem to suffer in terms of labour-market outcomes. In particular, they generally earn higher wages, and much of the available empirical evidence suggests that they                                    are not less productive than younger workers. Older and more experienced individuals seem therefore able to compensate for the decline                                    in information-processing skills by developing other skills, which are generally much more difficult to measure. On the other hand,                                                proficiency in information-processing skills remains a strong determinant of important outcomes at all ages; it is therefore crucial to better                                    understand which factors are the most effective in preventing such age-related decline in proficiency, which does not occur to the same                                        extent in all countries and for all individuals.

» Adult Skills in Focus No. 3:

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Adults with low proficiency in literacy or numeracy
(OECD Education Working Papers, No. 131)

This report offers a comprehensive analysis of the information from the Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC) regarding adults with low literacy and numeracy proficiency. The report describes the demographic and socioeconomic characteristics of these populations and explores the frequency with which they engage in reading, writing, and numeracy practices. Levels of engagement in these literacy practices are then related with a number of social and economic outcomes. Performance on the simple reading tasks (the so-called “reading components”) of adults with low proficiency is also analyzed, as well as their participation rates in formal or non-formal adult education or training programs.

Statistical Annex:
- Figures included in the Report and corresponding data
- Annex to Chapter 3 (Tables and Figures)

» Adult Skills in Focus n°2:

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The effects of vocational education on adult skills and wages (OECD Social, Employment and Migration Working Papers, No. 168)

Vocational education and training (VET) is highly valued by many. In 2010, the European Ministers for Vocational Education and Training, the European social partners, and the European Commission issued the Bruges Communiqué, which describes the global vision for VET in Europe 2020. In this vision, vocational skills and competencies are considered as important as academic skills and competencies. VET is expected to play an important role in achieving two Europe 2020 headline targets in education: (a) reduction in the rate of early school leavers to less than 10 per cent; and (b) increase in the rate of 30-to-40-year-olds having completed tertiary or equivalent education to at least 40 per cent. However, there is limited hard evidence that VET can improve education and labour-market outcomes. The few existing                                    studies yield mixed results, partly due to differences in the structure and quality of VET across countries.

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The causes and consequences of field-of-study mismatch – An analysis using PIAAC (OECD Social, Employment and Migration Working Papers, No. 167)

Field of study mismatch occurs when workers educated in a particular field work in another. It is conceptually distinct from qualifications or skills mismatch, although a part of qualifications and skills mismatch results from graduates from a particular field having to downgrade to find work in another field. Some studies have identified labour-market dynamics related to field-of-study mismatch, but few (if any) have sought to directly understand the interplay between labour-supply factors (the types of skills brought to the workplace) and labour-demand factors (the types of skills sought by employers) in field-of-study mismatch. Using data from the Programme for the International                                                  Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC) Survey of Adult Skills, this paper shows that although students may choose to specialize in a                                  particular field, actually getting to work in that field is not solely up to them.

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Adults, Computers and Problem Solving: What’s the Problem? (OECD Skills Studies)

This report provides an in-depth analysis of the results from the Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC) related to problem solving in technology-rich environments, along with measures concerning the use of ICT and problem solving.

 

 

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Time for the U.S. to Reskill? What the Survey of Adult Skills Says (OECD Skills Studies)

Literacy and numeracy skills lie at the root of our capacity to communicate, live, and work together to develop and share knowledge. They matter for economic success and social well-being. This report draws on the new international OECD Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC) to highlight the challenges faced by the US. It shows that the US should take action to improve adult skills if it wants to avoid falling behind other countries. The report also advances a set of key recommendations to improve basic skills across the board.

 

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