Adult Skills

18.05.20 | Statistics
Knowledge and skills are about what people know and can do. It is important to keep track of educational attainment and development in the population to ensure that everybody is given opportunities to learn and develop throughout their lives. The PIAAC study on the adult skills measures adults’ proficiency in literacy, numeracy and problem solving.

The Programme for the International Assessment of Adult competences (PIAAC)

PIAAC (The Programme for the International Assessment of Adult competences) is an OECD investigation of key information-processing skills in literacy (reading skills), numeracy (mathematical skills) and skills in problem-solving in technology-rich environments among populations aged 16–65 years in 24 countries.

Finland, Norway, and Sweden have above-average rankings in all three domains. Iceland did not participate in the PIAAC.



Literacy is defined as the ability to understand, evaluate, use, and engage with written texts to participate in society, to achieve one’s goals, and to develop one’s knowledge and potential. As can be seen from the below chart, nearly all Nordic countries perform better than the OECD average on every level.



Numeracy scores the ability to access, use, interpret, and communicate mathematical information and ideas to engage in and manage the mathematical demands of a range of situations in adult life. Numeracy scores in the Nordic countries are above OECD average on every level of numeracy proficiency. 


Problem-solving in technology-rich environments

Problem-solving in technology-rich environments is the ability to use digital technology, communication tools, and networks to acquire and evaluate information, communicate with others, and perform practical tasks. Comparatively few adults in the Nordic countries failed ICT core or have no computer experience indicating that Nordic adults have more familiarity with digital technology as compared to average OECD respondents.