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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.

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Educational Attainment, Over-Education, and Key Information-Processing Skills in the Nordic Countries

In this chapter, we use direct measures of skills and the time dimension available through register data in the Nordic PIAAC database to analyse flows out of over-education and skill-differences between over-educated and well-matched individuals. Because of partially missing data, only Denmark, Finland, and Sweden can be included in the main analyses. Measures of over-education differ in levels (but not in patterns) and we cannot know which measure gives the more accurate incidence. Overeducation, as measured by Job Analysis, seems to be a persistent state for many individuals, at least in the short-run. Among those aged 23–32 at the time of PIAAC and who were classified as over-educated in 2008, at best barely half were well-matched in 2011. Among the older over-educated, as many as 70–80% were still classified as over-educated three years later. Neither unadjusted estimates of “initial” (i.e., close to the time of completed education) skill-differences between over-educated and well-matched individuals, nor estimates adjusted for education and gender, are significantly different from zero. That is in terms of key information-processing skills. This suggests that initial differences in key information-processing skills cannot explain over-education. However, potential differences in higher-order skills or non-cognitive skills could still possibly explain over-education.

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