The study does, among other things, compare the results of the PISA-test to the study of adult knowledge in 24 countries that has been carried out by the OECD, Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC).
An international study of the knowledge of adults shows the same decline in the level of knowledge for reading and mathematics among younger adults as we have seen in the analysis of the PISA-test for pupils. Like in the PISA-test, we observe declining results for those who have completed Swedish comprehensive school in later years. It does not seem possible to make amends for knowledge and skills that have not been developed during the school years by work experience and further education as adults.
These are some of the conclusions in the research report The Knowledge and Skills of Adults. The study does, among other things, compare the results of the PISA-test to the study of adult knowledge in 24 countries that has been carried out by the OECD, Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC).
When the PIAAC study was presented in 2013, the conclusion was that knowledge and skills among adult Swedes do well in an international comparison. This study shows that the knowledge advantage applies to those generations that completed comprehensive school before the beginning of the 2000’s. Sweden has lost its advantage in the younger age groups, where PISA has indicated a considerable decrease in the level of knowledge. It can also be seen that the weak knowledge of mathematics and reading remains at least 12 years after completing comprehensive school.
Other results from the study:
In general, it does not seem possible to compensate for insufficient knowledge in an individual’s youth with experience from working life and further education. An exception is that those who work in IT-intensive industries do generally seem to have a better ability to solve problems using a computer, a skill which is measured in PIAAC. These individuals do also have better reading and maths skills.
A comparison of adult knowledge in Sweden and Finland shows that Swedes who completed school before 1987 have better or similar reading skills as compared to the corresponding age groups in Finland. For generations that completed school after 1987, Finnish adults have considerably better reading skills than Swedes.
When it comes to the ability to solve problems using a computer, Sweden has an advantage as compared to Finland in those generations that completed school in 1962−1992. In those generations that completed school after 1992, adult knowledge is on the same level in Finland and Sweden.
This report is part of the SNS research programme SNS Educational Commission. The overall question that constitutes the focus of the programme is how Sweden can be strengthened as a knowledge nation.
JAN-ERIC GUSTAFSSON, Professor of Pedagogy, University of Gothenburg and member of the Swedish expert group for PIAAC
ERIK MELLANDER, Associate Professor of Economics and Chairman of the Swedish Expert Group for PIAAC
MATS MYRBERG, Professor of Pedagogy, responsible for the Swedish participation in IALS and Member of the Swedish Expert Group for PIAAC
PATRIK LIND, MA in Economics and Research Officer, IFAU
JAN-ERIC GUSTAFSSON, firstname.lastname@example.org, +46-70-592 66 00
ERIK MELLANDER, email@example.com, +-46-70-313 47 89
MATS MYRBERG, firstname.lastname@example.org, +46-72-746 78 00
PATRIK LIND, email@example.com, +46-18-471 70 80