Building Skills for All in Australia

Policy Insights from the Survey of Adult Skills

Australia’s overall performance in the Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC) ranges from average to very good. However, three million adults, representing one-fifth of the working age population, have low literacy and/or numeracy skills. Building Skills for All in Australia describes the characteristics of the low-skilled and discusses the consequences that low skills have on economic and social development for both individuals and Australian society. The review examines the strengths of the Australian skills system, highlighting the strong basic skills found in the migrant population, widespread proficiency in use of ICT and the positive role of workplaces in skills development. The study explores, moreover, the challenges facing the skills system and what can be done to enhance basic skills through education, training or other workplace measures. One of a series of studies on low basic skills, the review presents new analyses of PIAAC data and concludes with a series of policy recommendations. These include: increasing participation of women in STEM fields, addressing underperformance of post-secondary VET students and preventing drop-out, improving pre-apprenticeships, enhancing mathematics provision within secondary education and tackling poor access to childcare facilities for young mothers.

Published on September 29, 2017

In series:OECD Skills Studiesview more titles


Executive summary
Assessment and recommendations
Basic skills in Australia
Strengths of the skills system in Australia
Numeracy skills are not as good as literacy skills in Australia
Low-skilled adults in post-secondary vocational education and training (VET) in Australia
Many young low-skilled Australians are not in employment, education or training (NEET)
Key figures on adult skills in Australia versus other countries
Problem solving in technology-rich environments – Sample items
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