New OECD programme to test skills of adults in today's work environment


17/03/2008 - Following its successful PISA programme for testing the educational attainments of 15-year old high-school students, OECD is launching a challenging new project to assess the knowledge and skills of adults.

The OECD Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC) will assess the level and distribution of adult skills across countries, focusing on the cognitive and workplace skills needed for successful participation in today's work environment.

PIAAC will also gather data on participants' educational backgrounds and professional attainments, as well as their ability to use information and communications technology (ICT) and their general levels of literacy and numeracy.

Following development work over the next two years and a field trial planned for 2010, the first tests will take place in 2011.  

The project will build on the success of OECD's Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), which recently completed its third round of high-school student evaluations. PIAAC will help governments to go further in evaluating and designing education and training policies by providing comparative information on skills among their adult populations, how these are spread out and how they affect earnings and employment prospects and the future readiness of individuals to undertake further training.

Governments in all OECD countries face the challenge of maintaining competitiveness in a global knowledge economy by ensuring flexible and responsive labour markets open to as wide a range of people of all ages. One of PIAAC's core objectives will be to assess how well participants use ICT to access, manage, integrate and evaluate information, construct new knowledge, and communicate with other people. In addition, PIAAC will collect information on participants' use of key work skills in their jobs - a first for an international study.  

In this way, PIAAC will offer a far more complete and nuanced picture of the "human capital" on which countries can count as they compete in today's globalised economy. It will help policy makers to assess the effectiveness of education and training systems, both for recent entrants to the labour market and for older people who may need to continue learning new skills throughout their lifetime. 

PIAAC assessments and questionnaires will be designed to ensure cross-cultural, cross-national and cross-language validity. All participating countries will have to adhere to common technical standards when implementing the survey. The project will be managed by participating OECD countries under the guidance of a PIAAC board supported by the OECD Secretariat.  Participation will be open to all OECD countries, as well as to non-OECD countries and economies within a framework established by the PIAAC board.

For further information, journalists are invited to contact Andreas Schleicher, head of OECD's Educational Indicators and Analysis Division, on + 33145249366.


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