Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Notes on current adult literacy skills

In October, 2013 the Program for the International Assessment of Adult Literacy Competencies (PIAAC) was released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics. This was done in line with the OECD 2013 report.
Note the data was collected in 2011-2012.

Earlier this year initial data indicated 44% or 7.3. million Australian adults has non functional literacy.

Below is some of the other significant data to consider.

The PIAAC measured across 3 domains

1. Literacy.

2. Numeracy.

3. Problem solving in technology-rich environments.

As these are slightly different domains compared with the 2 previous studies in 1996 and 2007 direct comparisons need to be carefully considered. In addition this survey data was collated in 6 skill levels; Level 5 - through to Below Level 1.

Level 5 is high attainment of complex multi level documents and information, Level 4 and 3 at functional and skilled abilities.

Level 2, Level 1 and Below level 1 are skill levels which are  non functional level.


The new data 44% or 7.3 million adults Australians have non functional literacy.

Critically, 13.7% or 1.4 million  adult Australians are at Skill1 level 1 or below skill level 1.


Proportion at each literacy level—2011–12


Functional skills in numeracy require a range of knowledge and abilities also.

For example, “Tasks from level 2 include a range of common contexts where maths content is fairly explicit or visual...... Involves calculating with whole numbers and common decimals, per cents and fractions; simple measurement and spatial representation; estimation; and interpretation of relatively simple data and statistics in texts, tables and graphs.”

From Appendix Scores and Skill Levels. Calculation of Scores  #4228

53.5% or 11.7 million adult Australians do not have the skills in numeracy to be able to complete Level 2 tasks, or below, rating them as being non-functional in numeracy.  

This is extremely crucial for all information in Health Literacy, Financial Literacy and many other day to day activities.

 Proportion at each numeracy level—2011–12

Look out for my future blogs here on

Problem solving in technology-rich environments

The influence of

1. Age

2. Culture and place of birth (Australia or other countries)

3. Education

4. Labour force status.


0466 579 855

Reference note: Graphs and data from PIAAC report. at

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