The Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC) is an Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) survey which will measure adult skills and competencies. These competencies include literacy, numeracy and problem solving skills, with a particular focus on skills needed for success in the information age. PIAAC will have an emphasis on the skills used by people in their jobs and will include information on the use of reading and numeracy at work as well as other workplace skills including team working, communication, presentation and information and technology skills. Twenty-five countries are participating in PIAAC including Australia, the USA, the UK, Canada, Japan and Korea.
PIAAC will provide continuity with the 2006 Adult Literacy and Lifeskills Survey (ALLS), and the 1996 International Adult Literacy Survey (IALS). In the 2006 ALLS, the OECD determined that people who had a score at Level 3 or above were regarded as having the minimum skills required to meet the complex demands of everyday life and work in a modern economy. In contrast, the OECD has not established a minimum adequacy level in PIAAC. Rather, the OECD proposes that results for each country should be assessed in terms of the association between skill levels and other characteristics, such as type of job and income, to assess the adequacy of the literacy skill mix in the country.
Fieldwork for PIAAC commenced internationally in late 2011, with the Australian survey being carried out by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) between October 2011 and March 2012. PIAAC will form a critical evidence base for policy and program development. In particular, PIAAC will measure the progress of the National Foundation Skills Strategy which is a collaborative undertaking by the Australian Government and State and Territory Governments, setting the direction for building foundation skills nationally over the decade 2012-2022.
The full results from PIAAC will be released in an international report in October 2013. On 15 February 2013, the ABS released the headline results from the Australian survey of PIAAC.
All enquiries regarding the PIAAC can be addressed to email@example.com.
Frequently Asked Questions
How frequently will PIAAC be conducted?
PIAAC is expected to be conducted internationally every ten years, commencing in 2011.
How many Australians were surveyed?
The 2011Australian sample included approximately 8,000 respondents. This sample size will enable international, national and state/territory comparisons to be made.
What age range will be included for PIAAC?
The OECD requires respondents to be aged between 16 and 65 years. The Australian sample consisted of respondents aged between 15 and 74 years, in order to align with ALLS, IALS and other national publications.
How can adult literacy results be compared over time?
PIAAC will provide continuity with the 2006 ALLS and 1996 IALS on core foundation skills such as literacy and numeracy. These surveys were also conducted by the OECD, and implemented in Australia by the ABS. Trend data will be made available on literacy competencies back to the 1996 IALS, and numeracy competencies back to the 2006 ALLS. However, the headline PIAAC results released by the ABS in February 2013 cannot yet be compared with 2006 ALLS and 1996 IALS. This is because of revisions to the literacy and problem solving domains for PIAAC, as well as a technical methodological change. The OECD is remodelling the 2006 and 1996 data to enable comparisons. This remodelled data will be available with the release of the international PIAAC results in October 2013.
What does current evidence on adult literacy find?
ALLS 2006 highlighted that there is scope for improvement in literacy and numeracy skills in the Australian adult population. Forty-six per cent of Australians aged 15 to 74 years old were rated at Level 1 or Level 2 (poor or very poor) on the prose literacy scale; 70 per cent of Australian adults were classified as having poor problem solving skills; and the proportion of 15 to 19 year olds with poor and very poor prose skills increased by 7.3 per cent and 2 per cent for document literacy since 1996. There is little variation in ALLS results between the states and territories.
ALLS 2006 also confirmed the strong association that exists between educational attainment and adult literacy levels, with the majority of those who had completed 10 years or less of formal education assessed at the lowest skill levels across all domains.
For more information on the OECD’s direction of PIAAC, visit the OECD website.
For 2006 ALLS results, visit the Australian Bureau of Statistics website.