People are the most valuable asset of any nation. What individuals know and can do has a profound impact on the quality of their lives and on future generations. Fostering the effective development and optimal use of competencies is therefore vital for ensuring economic growth, wellbeing and social progress.
The OECD Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC) helps all participating countries to:
• Identify and measure differences between individuals and across countries in key competencies and other economic and social outcomes believed to underlie both personal and societal success.
• Assess the impact of competencies on economic and social outcomes, including individual outcomes such as integration into the labour market, employment status and earnings, participation in further learning and education throughout the life cycle as well as aggregate outcomes, such as fostering economic growth or creating social equity in labour market outcomes and social participation.
• Assess the performance of education and training systems in generating the required competencies at the levels required by social and economic demands.
• Clarify the policy levers that, once ‘‘deficiencies’’ in key competencies have been identified, lead to enhancing competencies through the formal educational system, in the work-place, through incentives addressed at the general population, etc.
PIAAC consists of a household survey that will yield comparable information for a wide range of countries including the Russian Federation. A minimum of 4500 to 5000 adults will be surveyed in each country to directly assess their foundation skills, and to collect information on the antecedents, outcomes and contexts of skill development and skill use.
In the context of other work related to skills development, this extensive information base will: (1) enable a more comprehensive assessment of the stock of human capital; (2) reveal the extent to which individuals’ skills are actually used at work; (3) identify the role skills play in improving labour market prospects; (4) improve understanding of the labour market and social returns to education and training; (5) help governments to understand better how education and training systems can nurture these skills; (6) help governments to prioritise investment of scarce resources in education and training; and (7) contribute to building strategic partnerships for policy implementation.
In the past, skills were almost exclusively approximated by the formal qualifications people had attained at some stage in their life. With PIAAC, people’s skills are measured directly. Directly measuring what people can do is important because it helps to account for skill gain and skill loss which may occur beyond the stage at which initial qualifications were attained. In other words, PIAAC takes into account what individuals learn at the workplace and informally throughout life and it also takes into account what individuals may forget as they become older. Not least, direct measures of skills take into account differences in the quality of education and training received by adults both within and across countries.