Adult Skills in the Nordic Region

Key Information-Processing Skills Among Adults in the Nordic Region

image of Adult Skills in the Nordic Region

Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Norway, and Sweden participated in the first round of the International Survey of Adults’ Skills. The survey is a product of the Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC) led by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). The survey assessed the proficiency in literacy, numeracy, and problem-solving in technology-rich environments of adults aged 16–65. This publication is the product of the Nordic PIAAC Network, consisting of members from all five countries. It concentrates on the comparative results from four Nordic countries and Estonia, forming a Nordic region with many common features. It supplements the series of national and international PIAAC reports by comparing the results from five countries, as well as comparing an aggregate of these countries to other country aggregates. The results published in this book draw on a unique Nordic database, which the Nordic PIAAC Network has produced. The database consists of PIAAC assessment data and background information, supplemented by social, educational, and labour market register data from the five countries.



Weak and Strong Performers in Literacy and Numeracy

The PIAAC data were used to study weak and strong performers in literacy and numeracy and the associations between these groups and sociodemographic background factors. The Nordic region countries Denmark, Finland, Estonia, Norway, and Sweden were compared to two other aggregates of the PIAAC-participating countries. There are small differences in the weak-performing groups between the Nordic region countries. The variation is larger for the strong-performing groups. In most PIAAC countries, the amount of weak in both literacy and numeracy is larger than the sum of the weak either in literacy or numeracy. There is more variation across the countries when it comes to which strong group is the largest. The same association patterns were found across the country aggregates between age, gender, education, employment status, and income, and performance groups in literacy and numeracy. The most disadvantaged group are adults who are weak performers both in literacy and numeracy, and the most advantaged group are adults who are strong performers in both skill domains. Numeracy, not literacy to the same extent, is associated with employment status and income. Being weak in numeracy is associated with unemployment and low income, and being strong is associated with employment and high income. The results support the conclusions that more attention in research and policy could be given to numeracy and to numeracy in relation to literacy.


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