Survey reveals whether adults in Estonia are as clever as our children

  • 2022-09-08

The international Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC), which aims to collect data on people’s everyday competencies such as literacy, numeracy, information-seeking, use of computers and information technology, as well as their education and work experience, begins today. This is the second time that Estonia has participated in the survey.

“Previous analyses of the PIAAC survey have shown that success on the labour market, in education, and in community life presumes certain basic skills,” said Renno Veinthal, Deputy Secretary-General of the Estonian Ministry of Education and Research. “As elementary skills are learnable, the results of the survey importantly shed light on the bottlenecks that need to be addressed in adult learning and allow action to be taken to ensure that everyone’s experience and skills better meet the needs of the changing labour market,” Veinthal pointed out.

According to the results of the previous survey a decade ago, our adults with their basic information-processing skills, functional literacy, and numeracy were among the best in the world. However, the ability to use technology for problem-solving was weaker in Estonia than in the other countries surveyed. 

In Estonia, the PIAAC survey is carried out by Statistics Estonia, and as stated by the Director General, it is vital to participate in the survey again in order to assess the activities in the period between the two surveys, and to draw conclusions.

“The PIAAC survey is like the PISA test for adults, in which people’s skills are mapped using a background questionnaire and various language, maths and other tasks. However, it is important to understand that this is a survey, not a test or exam. No one is scored, the answers are generalised in the analysis, and data are kept strictly confidential,” assured Urmet Lee, Director General of Statistics Estonia. 

Statistics Estonia will interview up to 13,000 randomly sampled individuals aged 16–65 in the survey, which will run from September to April. Each person in the sample is unique because they represent other similar inhabitants of Estonia in terms of age, sex, place of residence, educational attainment, or other parameters. “Therefore, if you are invited to participate in the survey, please do so. Your contribution is invaluable,” stressed Lee. 

In the summer of 2021, the pilot survey of PIAAC 2018–2023 was conducted with 1,500 people who helped refine the questionnaire and test the tasks. “Despite the difficult epidemiological situation, Estonia handled the pilot survey very well. We would like to thank all those who participated in the pilot and thus made the main survey possible,” added the Director General of Statistics Estonia.

In September, a leaflet introducing the PIAAC survey will arrive in the mailboxes of the sample persons, along with a request to contact an interviewer of Statistics Estonia to agree on a suitable time and place for a face-to-face interview. There is no time limit for completing the survey, but it should be noted that on average it takes two hours. 

Learn more

PIAAC (Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies) is an international adult skills survey that aims to measure adults’ functional literacy, numeracy, and problem-solving skills in technology-rich environments, as well as elementary reading and calculation skills. 32 countries, mostly OECD members, are participating in the survey, and results will be made public at the end of 2024. The PIAAC survey in Estonia is carried out by the Ministry of Education and Research in cooperation with Statistics Estonia. The survey is supported by the Estonian state and the European Social Fund.