Skills Matter

Additional Results from the Survey of Adult Skills

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In the wake of the technological revolution that began in the last decades of the 20th century, labour-market demand for information-processing and other high-level cognitive and interpersonal skills have been growing substantially. Based on the results from the 33 countries and regions that participated in the 1st and 2nd round of the Survey of Adult Skills in 2011-12 and in 2014-15, this report describes adults’ proficiency in three information-processing skills, and examines how proficiency is related to labour-market and social outcomes. It also places special emphasis on the results from the 3rd and final round of the first cycle of PIAAC in 2017-18, which included 6 countries (Ecuador, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Mexico, Peru and the United States). The Survey of Adult Skills, a product of the OECD Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC), was designed to provide insights into the availability of some of these key skills in society and how they are used at work and at home. The first survey of its kind, it directly measures proficiency in three information-processing skills: literacy, numeracy and problem-solving in technology-rich environments.

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The outcomes of investments in skills

This chapter looks at how proficiency in literacy, numeracy and problem solving in technology-rich environments makes a difference to the outcomes experienced by individuals – and how these differ among the six countries that participated in the third round of the Survey of Adult Skills. It finds that proficiency is positively linked to a number of important economic and social outcomes – not just employment and wages, but also aspects of well-being such as health, volunteering and political efficacy. It also considers the impact of wages on mismatches between workers’ qualifications and skills and those needed for their jobs.

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