Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies

The Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC) is an Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) survey which measures adult skills and competencies. These competencies include literacy, numeracy and problem solving skills, with a particular focus on skills needed for success in the information age. PIAAC has an emphasis on the skills used by people in their jobs and includes information on the use of reading and numeracy at work as well as other workplace skills including team work, communication, presentation and information and technology skills. Twenty-four countries are participating in PIAAC including Australia, the USA, the UK, Canada, Japan and Korea.

PIAAC Results 2013

Results from the international survey and the Australian data were released in October 2013. Literacy and Numeracy skills are presented on a sliding scale of increased abilities from below Level 1 to Level 5, with below Level 1 being the lowest and Level 5 the highest. The scale for Problem Solving in a Technology Rich Environment differs slightly; its scale is from below Level 1 to Level 3.

Australian Results

Figure 1: Australia’s proficiency across each domain:

Australia's Proficiency across each domain. View text description for details

Text description for Australia’s proficiency across each domain graph.

More information on Australia’s results can be found in the Australian Bureau of Statistics full results from the Australian survey of PIAAC.

International Comparison

The OECD Report, OECD Skills Outlook 2013: First Results from the Survey of Adult Skills provides international comparison across domains between countries who participated in the survey.

Australia performs significantly above the international average for literacy proficiency, ranking fifth internationally.

Problem Solving:
Australia performs significantly above the international average for proficiency in problem solving in technology rich environments, ranking sixth internationally.

Australia performs at the international average for Numeracy proficiency, ranking 13th internationally.

More information on the OECD report and international results can be found on the OECD website.

Australia’s foundation skills – changes over time

PIAAC will provide continuity with the 2006 Adult Literacy and Lifeskills Survey and 1996 International Adult Literacy Survey on core foundation skills such as literacy and numeracy. These surveys were also conducted by the OECD, and implemented in Australia by the ABS. Trend data will be made available in late 2013.

Frequently Asked Questions

How frequently will PIAAC be conducted?

PIAAC is expected to be conducted internationally every ten years. Fieldwork for PIAAC commenced internationally in late 2011, with the Australian survey carried out by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) between October 2011 and March 2012.

How many Australians were surveyed?

The 2011 Australian sample included approximately 8,000 respondents. This sample size will enable international, national and state/territory comparisons to be made.

What age range will be included for PIAAC?

The OECD requires respondents to be aged between 16 and 65 years. The Australian sample consisted of respondents aged between 15 and 74 years, in order to align with ALLS, IALS and other national publications.


For more information on the OECD report and role in direction of PIAAC, visit the OECD website.

For full Australian PIAAC results and 2006 ALLS results, visit the Australian Bureau of Statistics website.

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