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United Kingdom
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United Kingdom
England and Northern Ireland: Adult skills (Survey of Adult Skills, PIAAC)
  • In England/N. Ireland (UK), the mean proficiency score of 16-65 year-olds in literacy is around the average of the OECD countries participating in the Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC). In numeracy, the mean proficiency score is however significantly below the average.
  • In numeracy and literacy, the younger adult population (16-24 year-olds) scores significantly below the average of the OECD countries participating in the Survey. Unlike in most other countries, younger adults score around the same as 55-65 year-olds do in both domains.
  • In England/N. Ireland (UK), only 10.1% of the adult population (16-65 year-olds) report no prior experience with computers or lack very basic computer skills. In contrast, 35% of the adult population score at the highest levels in problem solving in technology-rich environments, a proportion around the average of the OECD countries participating in the Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC).
  • In most participating countries, a significant minority have a very low level proficiency in literacy and numeracy. In England/N. Ireland (UK), 16.4% of the adults score at the lowest levels in literacy and 24.1% in numeracy.
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    The following list displays indicators for which your selected country shows the highest and lowest values among countries. The list can be sorted by level of education or by age group. All rankings are calculated including available data from OECD and partner countries. Find out more about the methodology here.

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    Literacy

    The mean literacy score is low compared to other countries participating in the Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC). (272 PIAAC Score, rank 15/21 ) Download Indicator

    Numeracy

    The mean numeracy score is low compared to other countries participating in the Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC). (262 PIAAC Score, rank 19/21 ) Download Indicator

    Problem solving in technology-rich environments

    The percentage of adults who opted out of the computer based assessment is low compared to other countries participating in the Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC). (4 %, rank 26/21 ) Download Indicator

    The percentage of adults with missing values in the assessment of problem solving in technology-rich environments is high compared to other countries participating in the Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC). (2 %, rank 9/18 ) Download Indicator

    The percentage of adults who failed the ICT core is high compared to other countries participating in the Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC). (6 %, rank 8/21 ) Download Indicator

    The percentage of adults who had no computer experience is low compared to other countries participating in the Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC). (4 %, rank 20/21 ) Download Indicator

    The percentage of adults scoring below Level 1 in problem solving in technology-rich environments is high compared to other countries participating in the Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC). (15 %, rank 3/18 ) Download Indicator

    The percentage of adults scoring at Level 1 in problem solving in technology-rich environments is high compared to other countries participating in the Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC). (34 %, rank 2/18 ) Download Indicator

    The percentage of adults scoring at Level 2 or 3 in problem solving in technology-rich environments is high compared to other countries participating in the Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC). (35 %, rank 10/18 ) Download Indicator

    Skills differences between age groups

    The mean literacy score for young adults (16-24 year-olds) is low compared to other countries participating in the Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC). (266 PIAAC Score, rank 23/21 ) Download Indicator

    The mean literacy score for older adults (55-65 year-olds) is high compared to other countries participating in the Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC). (265 PIAAC Score, rank 4/21 ) Download Indicator

    The mean numeracy score for young adults (16-24 year-olds) is low compared to other countries participating in the Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC). (257 PIAAC Score, rank 22/21 ) Download Indicator

    The mean numeracy score for older adults (55-65 year-olds) is low compared to other countries participating in the Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC). (257 PIAAC Score, rank 13/21 ) Download Indicator

    The percentage of young adults (16-24 year-olds) scoring at Level 2 or 3 in problem solving in technology-rich environments is low compared to other countries participating in the Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC). (42 %, rank 17/18 ) Download Indicator

    The percentage of older adults (55-65 year-olds) scoring at Level 2 or 3 in problem solving in technology-rich environments is high compared to other countries participating in the Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC). (17 %, rank 4/18 ) Download Indicator

    Skills differences by gender

    The mean literacy score among men is low compared to other countries participating in the Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC). (274 PIAAC Score, rank 13/21 ) Download Indicator

    The mean literacy score among women is low compared to other countries participating in the Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC). (271 PIAAC Score, rank 14/21 ) Download Indicator

    The mean numeracy score among men is low compared to other countries participating in the Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC). (269 PIAAC Score, rank 17/21 ) Download Indicator

    The mean numeracy score among women is low compared to other countries participating in the Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC). (255 PIAAC Score, rank 20/21 ) Download Indicator

    The percentage of men scoring at Level 2 or 3 in problem solving in technology-rich environments is high compared to other countries participating in the Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC). (39 %, rank 9/18 ) Download Indicator

    The percentage of women scoring at Level 2 or 3 in problem solving in technology-rich environments is low compared to other countries participating in the Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC). (31 %, rank 12/18 ) Download Indicator

    Skills differences by level of education

    The mean literacy score for adults without upper secondary education is low compared to other countries participating in the Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC). (239 PIAAC Score, rank 19/21 ) Download Indicator

    The mean literacy score for adults with tertiary education is low compared to other countries participating in the Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC). (294 PIAAC Score, rank 15/21 ) Download Indicator

    The mean numeracy score for adults without upper secondary education is low compared to other countries participating in the Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC). (225 PIAAC Score, rank 20/21 ) Download Indicator

    The mean numeracy score for adults with tertiary education is low compared to other countries participating in the Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC). (286 PIAAC Score, rank 19/21 ) Download Indicator

    The percentage of adults without upper secondary education scoring at Level 2 or 3 in problem solving in technology-rich environments is low compared to other countries participating in the Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC). (10 %, rank 20/18 ) Download Indicator

    The percentage of adults with tertiary education scoring at Level 2 or 3 in problem solving in technology-rich environments is high compared to other countries participating in the Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC). (53 %, rank 10/18 ) Download Indicator

    Skills by immigrant and language background

    The mean literacy score for native born, native language adults is low compared to other countries participating in the Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC). (276 PIAAC Score, rank 12/21 ) Download Indicator

    The mean literacy score for foreign-born, foreign language adults is high compared to other countries participating in the Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC). (245 PIAAC Score, rank 9/19 ) Download Indicator

    The mean numeracy score for native-born, native language adults is low compared to other countries participating in the Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC). (266 PIAAC Score, rank 17/21 ) Download Indicator

    The mean numeracy score for foreign-born, foreign language adults is low compared to other countries participating in the Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC). (230 PIAAC Score, rank 16/19 ) Download Indicator

    The percentage of native-born, native language adults scoring at Level 2 or 3 in problem solving in technology-rich environments is low compared to other countries participating in the Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC). (37 %, rank 11/18 ) Download Indicator

    The percentage of foreign-born, foreign language adults scoring at Level 2 or 3 in problem solving in technology-rich environments is high compared to other countries participating in the Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC). (23 %, rank 4/11 ) Download Indicator

    Skills by ocupation

    The mean literacy score for workers in skilled occupations is high compared to other countries participating in the Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC). (297 PIAAC Score, rank 8/21 ) Download Indicator

    The mean literacy score for workers in elementary occupations is low compared to other countries participating in the Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC). (246 PIAAC Score, rank 17/21 ) Download Indicator

    The mean numeracy score for workers in skilled occupations is low compared to other countries participating in the Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC). (290 PIAAC Score, rank 16/21 ) Download Indicator

    The mean numeracy score for workers in elementary occupations is low compared to other countries participating in the Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC). (231 PIAAC Score, rank 21/21 ) Download Indicator

    The percentage of workers in skilled occupations scoring at Level 2 or 3 in problem solving in technology-rich environments is high compared to other countries participating in the Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC). (57 %, rank 6/18 ) Download Indicator

    The percentage of workers in elementary occupations scoring at Level 2 or 3 in problem solving in technology-rich environments is low compared to other countries participating in the Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC). (18 %, rank 12/18 ) Download Indicator


    General findings
      Literacy is defined as the ability to understand, evaluate, use and engage with written texts to participate in society, achieve one's goals, and develop one's knowledge and potential. As measured by the Survey of Adult Skills, literacy encompasses a range of skills, from decoding written words and sentences to understanding, interpreting and evaluating complex texts. It does not, however, involve producing text (writing). Given the growing importance of digital devices and applications as a means of generating, accessing and storing written text, reading digital texts (e.g. texts containing hyper-text and navigation features, such as scrolling or clicking on links) is an integral part of literacy.
    • The average literacy score for the OECD countries participating in the assessment is 273 points. Japan (296 points) has the highest average proficiency in literacy followed by Finland (288 points). Italy (250 points) and Spain (252 points) record the lowest average scores. An adult with average literacy proficiency can successfully complete tasks that require paraphrasing, low-level inferences, and matching between the digital or printed text and information.
    • The mean literacy score among 16-24 year-olds is 280 score points, 7 points higher than that for all adults (273 score points). In most countries, the mean score among 16-24 year-olds is higher than that among 16-65 year-olds. The difference between the two age groups is particularly large in Korea (20 score points) and Poland (14 score points). In only two OECD countries participating in the assessment is the mean score for 16-24 year-olds lower than that of 16-65 year-olds: England/Northern Ireland (UK) (-6 points) and Norway (-3 score points).
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      Numeracy is defined as the ability to access, use, interpret and communicate mathematical information and ideas in order to engage in and manage the mathematical demands of a range of situations in adult life.
    • The average score in numeracy among the OECD countries participating in the assessment is 269 points. Japan has the highest average proficiency in numeracy (288 points), followed by Finland (282 points). Spain (246 points) and Italy (247 points) record the lowest average scores. An adult with average proficiency in numeracy can successfully complete tasks that require the application of two or more steps or processes involving calculating with whole numbers and common decimals, percentages and fractions; simple measurement and spatial representation; estimation; and interpreting relatively simple data and statistics in texts, tables and graphs.
    • The mean numeracy score among 16-24 year-olds is 271 points, 2 score points higher than that among all adults (269 points). The difference between the two groups is smaller in numeracy than in literacy. Young adults (16-24 years old) in the Netherlands (285 points), Finland (285 points), Japan (283 points) and Flanders (Belgium) (283 points) have the highest mean scores, while those in Italy (251 points), Spain (255 points), England/Northern Ireland (UK) (257 points), and the United States (249 points) have the lowest mean scores. The difference in scores between the youngest age group and all adults is particularly large in Korea (18 score points), Spain (9 score points) and Poland (9 score points). Among countries where 16-24 year-olds score lower, on average, than 16-65 year-olds, the difference is greatest in Norway (-5 score points), Denmark (-6 score points), England/Northern Ireland (UK) (-6 score points), Japan (-5 score points) and the United States (-6 score points).
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      Problem solving in technology-rich environments is defined as the ability to use digital technology, communication tools and networks to acquire and evaluate information, communicate with others and perform practical tasks. The survey assesses adults' ability to solve problems by establishing appropriate goals and plans, and accessing and using information through computers and computer networks.
    • In nearly all countries, at least 10% of adults have trouble using digital technology, communication tools and networks to acquire and evaluate information, communicate with others and perform practical tasks. Across participating countries, from 7% to 27% of adults reported having no experience in using computers or lack the most elementary computer skills, such as the ability to use a mouse. Only between 2.9% and 8.8% of adults demonstrate the highest level of proficiency (Level 3) in problem solving in technology-rich environments, where tasks require the ability to use a wider range of applications in less familiar contexts, and to solve problems involving complex pathways to solutions that require navigating around impasses.
    • As expected, in all countries, 16-24 year-olds have higher average proficiency in this domain than does the adult population as a whole. They are also less likely to have no prior computer experience or lack basic ICT skills. However, in some countries, such as the United States, Poland, Ireland and England/Northern Ireland (UK), there are surprisingly small proportions of young adults who can solve more complex problems using computers, those tasks at proficiency Level 2 or 3. By contrast, a relatively large proportion of young adults in the Nordic countries, Korea and the Netherlands perform at the highest level of proficiency (Level 3) in problem solving in technology-rich environments.
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    The data table will display up to six selected countries.
    Note: These values should be interpreted with care since they are influenced by countries' specific contexts and trade-offs. In education, there is often no simple most- or least-efficient model. For instance, the share of private expenditure in education must be read against other measures designed to mitigate inequities, such as loans and grants; longer learning time is an opportunity to convey more and better content to students, but may hinder investments in other important areas. If you want further information on the nature of different variables, please take the time to read the analysis and contextual information, available at the website for each publication.
    All rankings for individual variables are compiled on the basis of OECD and G20 countries for which data are available. The OECD average includes only OECD countries which are listed here: http://www.oecd.org/about/membersandpartners/

    *TALIS averages are based on all countries participating in the TALIS survey, including partner countries and economies. This explains the difference between the OECD average and the TALIS average. Data from the TALIS survey and Education at a Glance (EAG) may differ. See Annex E of the TALIS technical report and Annex 3 of EAG for more details about the data collections.

    For additional notes, please refer to annexes in the list of links below the introductory country profile text.