Basic skills are needed

The PIAAC survey measures the basic skills of adults in OECD countries. In this study, literacy, numeracy, and computer problem-solving were measured as basic skills. According to the study, increasing the basic adult education in each country would be very important. Indeed, members of ABF Norden have already taken up this challenge and are providing basic adult education in the Nordic countries.
Most adults in OECD countries know how to read and write, but there are already more problems understanding long sentences. Literacy also includes a critical examination of knowledge, which has become increasingly important in the era of various fake news and social media. No wonder populist parties are strong if people are not critical of what they read on Twitter, for example. Critical and analytical literacy are essential for active participation in the development of society and one’s own community.
Indeed, the survey showed that those with the lowest levels of basic skills were the least likely to believe in their own influence in society. They also participated less in volunteering and relied less on other people. In addition, their health was lower than that of those with stronger basic skills. Therefore, it is not an exaggeration to say that basic skills have an impact on people’s wellbeing in general, not only that they have an impact on the position in the labor market.
As technology advances and the world of work changes, IT skills are no longer just a requirement for highly qualified engineers, but have become the basic skill that every person needs. Almost work-to-work requires basic skills such as literacy, numeracy, and the use of technology to solve problems.
According to the study, strong basic skills in reading, numeracy and computer literacy led to better job opportunities as well as better pay. Particularly good IT skills will result in better pay and well-being at work.
Basic skills are important for people’s integration and participation in society, education, employment and social life. Basic skills are needed in a variety of contexts at work and leisure. The most important thing to remember is that these skills can be learned! That is why ABF Norden has also set up a working group to develop basic adult education.

Katri Söder


Katri Söder, Manager of Education in Työväen Sivistysliitto TSL (Workers’ Education Association in Finland), and a member of the ABF Norden Basic Skills -group.


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