OECD Skills Outlook 2013: First Results from the Survey of Adult Skills 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 these 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 the OECD Skills Outlook reports results from the countries and regions that participated in the first round of the Survey of Adult Skills.
The Survey of Adult Skills - Reader's Companion 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.
Literacy, Numeracy and Problem Solving in Technology-Rich Environments - Framework for the OECD Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC) A basic level of literacy and numeracy is essential for full participation in modern societies. While very few people in most of the advanced countries could be regarded as illiterate or innumerate, recent studies have shown that there are, in fact, significant numbers of people with poor skills, and that low levels of skills are associated with lower wages and greater chances of unemployment and disengagement from the labour market.
» Background Questionnaire The PIAAC background questionnaire includes a range of information regarding the factors which influence the development and maintenance of skills such as education, social background, engagement with literacy and numeracy and ICTs, language as well as information on outcomes which may be related to skills. Information is collected on the current activity of respondents, employment status and income. In terms of non-economic outcomes, the survey includes questions on health status, volunteering, political efficacy and social trust.
Background Questionnaire – Conceptual Framework The current paper provides an overview of the conceptual framework developed for the PIAAC Background Questionnaire and where relevant, includes the items that have been included in the Questionnaire.
PIAAC Technical Standards The Programme for International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC) has established technical standards and guidelines to ensure that the survey design and implementation processes of PIAAC yield high-quality and internationally comparable data. This document provides an introduction to PIAAC and its objectives as well as the methodologies and presents the proposed standards, together with their rationale, technical implications, recommendations for implementation and quality assurance procedures. In addition to the standards and guidelines, the document provides recommendations which are designed to further improve the quality of the survey implementation and results.
Sample Items Six examples of items extracted from the Education and Skills online field test, the online version of the Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC), are included in this document. They are covering different levels of difficulty in the three domains assessed: literacy, numeracy and problem solving in technology rich-environments.
Proficiency levels description Besides of presenting key facts about the Survey of Adult Skills, this document provides the detailed explanation of the proficiency levels in the three domains assessed in the Survey: literacy, numeracy and problem solving in technology-rich environments, as well as the corresponding proficiency score.
Capacity-building Workshops This two-page brochure presents the different trainings offered in the framework of the implementation of the Survey of Adult Skills.
Adults, Computers and Problem Solving: What's the Problem? The 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.
Time for the U.S. to Reskill? What the Survey of Adult Skills Says 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 United States. It shows that the United States 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.
Skills and Wage Inequality: Evidence from PIAAC (EDU Working Paper No. 114) This paper exploits data from the Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC) to shed light on the link between measured cognitive skills (proficiency), (formal) educational attainment and labour market outcomes. After presenting descriptive statistics on the degree of dispersion in the distributions of proficiency and wages, the paper shows that the cross-country correlation between these two dimensions of inequality is very low and, if anything, negative. As a next step, the paper provides estimates of the impact of both proficiency and formal education at different parts of the distribution of earnings. Formal education is found to have a larger impact on inequality, given that returns to education are in general much higher at the top than at the bottom of the distribution. The profile of returns to proficiency, by contrary, is much flatter. This is consistent with the idea that PIAAC measures rather general skills, while at the top end of the distribution the labour market rewards specialised knowledge that is necessarily acquired through tertiary and graduate education. Finally, a decomposition exercise shows that composition effects are able to explain a very limited amount of the observed cross-country differences in wage inequality. This suggests that economic institutions, by shaping the way personal characteristics are rewarded in the labour market, are the main determinants of wage inequality.
Comparison of PIAAC and PISA Frameworks for Numeracy and Mathematical Literacy (EDU Working Paper No.102) This paper describes key aspects of the frameworks for the assessment of adult numeracy and mathematical literacy in PIAAC and PISA, which are OECD two flagship programs for international comparative assessment of competencies. The paper examines commonalities and differences in how the constructs of adult numeracy and mathematical literacy were assessed in PIAAC and PISA, and sketches selected challenges associated with interpretation of results from these surveys.
Skill Mismatch and Public Policy in OECD Countries (ECO Working Paper No.1210) This paper explores the relationship between skill mismatch and public policies using micro data for 22 OECD countries from the recent OECD Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC). Results suggest that differences in skill mismatch across countries are related to differences in public policies. After controlling for individual and job characteristics, well-designed product and labour markets and bankruptcy laws that do not overly penalise business failure are associated with lower skill mismatch.
Labour Market Mismatch and Labour Productivity: Evidence from PIAAC Data (ECO Working Paper No. 1209) This paper explores the link between skill and qualification mismatch and labour productivity using cross-country industry data for 19 OECD countries. Utilising mismatch indicators aggregated from micro-data sourced from the recent OECD Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC), the main results suggest that higher skill and qualification mismatch is associated with lower labour productivity, with over-skilling and under-qualification accounting for most of these impacts. A novel result is that higher skill mismatch is associated with lower labour productivity through a less efficient allocation of resources, presumably because when the share of over-skilled workers is higher, more productive firms find it more difficult to attract skilled labour and gain market shares at the expense of less productive firms. At the same time, a higher share of under-qualified workers is associated with both lower allocative efficiency and within-firm productivity – i.e. a lower ratio of high productivity to low productivity firms. While differences in managerial quality can potentially account for the relationship between mismatch and within-firm productivity, the paper offers some preliminary insights into the policy factors that might explain the link between skill mismatch and resource allocation.
The educational roots of trust (EDU Working Paper No. 119) Trust is important for social and economic well-being, for enhancing social cohesion and strengthening resilience, and for maintaining security and order in our societies. Trust is the foundation upon which social capital is built and it also is intimately related to human capital. This work examines the association between education and levels of interpersonal trust, using data from the OECD’s Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC). Our analysis demonstrated that education strengthens the cognitive and analytical capacities needed to develop, maintain, and (perhaps) restore trust in both close relationships as well as in anonymous others. It does so both directly, through building and reinforcing literacy and numeracy in individuals, and indirectly, through facilitating habits and reinforcing behaviours such as reading and writing at home and at work. Education and trust are thus fundamentally intertwined and dependent on each other. While all countries across the OECD have been striving to improve their education systems in terms of student achievement levels, this analysis suggests that there are also concrete elements that could be usefully addressed in order to reinforce and strengthen trust.
Skills and labour market performance in Sweden (ECO Working Paper No. 1233) Both educational attainment and skills, as measured in the OECD Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC), are high in Sweden. They are not perfect substitutes, but both are to some degree necessary for successfully integrating in the Swedish labour market. This paper describes the distribution of proficiency in literacy in the population and explores its determinants, and uncovers a strong relationship between literacy and the likelihood of being employed. The relationship between proficiency in literacy and the likelihood of participating in adult education is also explored. Lower employment prospects for immigrants are well explained by lower literacy proficiency, lower education and less favourable socio-economic backgrounds.
A new measure of skills mismatch: theory and evidence from the Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC) (OECD Social, Employment and Migration Working Papers No.153) This paper proposes a new measure of skills mismatch that combines information about skill proficiency, self-reported mismatch and skill use. The theoretical foundations underlying this measure allow identifying minimum and maximum skill requirements for each occupation and to classify workers into three groups, the well-matched, the under-skilled and the over-skilled. The availability of skill use data further permit the computation of the degree of under and over-usage of skills in the economy. The empirical analysis is carried out using the first wave of the OECD Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC) and the findings are compared across skill domains, labour market status and countries.
Returns to Skills Around the World: Evidence from PIAAC (EDU Working Paper No.101) Existing estimates of the labor-market returns to human capital give a distorted picture of the role of skills across different economies. International comparisons of earnings analyses rely almost exclusively on school attainment measures of human capital, and evidence incorporating direct measures of cognitive skills is mostly restricted to early-career workers in the United States. Analysis of the new PIAAC survey of adult skills over the full lifecycle in 22 countries shows that the focus on early-career earnings leads to underestimating the lifetime returns to skills by about one quarter. On average, a one-standard-deviation increase in numeracy skills is associated with an 18 percent wage increase among prime-age workers. But this masks considerable heterogeneity across countries. Eight countries, including all Nordic countries, have returns between 12 and 15 percent, while six are above 21 percent with the largest return being 28 percent in the United States. Estimates are remarkably robust to different earnings and skill measures, additional controls, and various subgroups. Intriguingly, returns to skills are systematically lower in countries with higher union density, stricter employment protection, and larger public-sector shares.