International Survey of Adult Skills Cycle 2


About International Survey of Adult Skills 


The International Survey of Adult Skills is the major survey conducted as part of the Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC). PIAAC is an initiative of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) that measures the level of distribution of skills among the adult populations as well as the extent of skills use in different contexts.

  • It is a research collaboration between national governments and the OECD.
  • It is the most comprehensive international survey of adult skills ever undertaken, and is conducted over 30 countries/economies.
  • It assesses the level and distribution of skills in our adult population and the extent of skills use in different contexts.
  • It aims to help governments better understand how education and training systems can nurture these skills.
  • It is carried out by interviewing people aged 16-65.
  • It is administered every 10 years and this is the second cycle. In the first cycle, there were three rounds of data collection, between 2011-2018. The second cycle began in 2018, with results targeted for publication in 2024.


Benefits of the Survey


The information from the survey can be used to better understand the skills and knowledge of our country’s adults and help develop and improve education and training programs for adults.

Specifically, the survey will help participating countries to:

  • understand how their population is doing in relation to other countries
  • develop policies and programmes to provide individuals with the necessary skills to function well at the workplace and in their personal lives
  • prepare adults for a competitive global economy
  • measure the changes in skill levels of the adult populations over time each time it is repeated, and
  • determine how adults apply their skills and knowledge obtained through education and training in their everyday lives and at work


Organisations Involved in Cycle 2


The programme is initiated by the OECD based in Paris, France. It is managed by an international consortium of experts and organisations in different fields including education, assessment and questionnaire design, sampling design, research analyses, skills, survey operations, IT management, linguistics, etc. The PIAAC Consortium laid out specific standards and guidelines to the whole process of conducting this survey to ensure the survey design and implementation processes yield high-quality and internationally comparable data.

In Singapore, the second cycle of this survey is commissioned by the Ministry of Education (MOE) and the SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG), and implemented by the Institute for Adult Learning (IAL), which also managed the first cycle of the survey. Read about the first cycle of the survey here


List of Countries Participating in Cycle 2

Round 1 (2021 - 2023)
  1. Australia
  2. Austria
  3. Belgium
  4. Canada
  5. Chile
  6. Croatia
  7. Czech Republic
  8. Denmark
  9. Estonia
  10. Finland
  11. France
    12. Germany
    13. Hungary
    14. Ireland
    15. Israel
    16. Italy
    17. Japan
    18. Korea
    19. Latvia
    20. Lithuania
    21. Netherlands
    22. New Zealand
    23. Norway
    24. Poland
    25. Portugal
    26. Russian Federation
    27. Singapore
    28. Slovak Republic
    29. Spain
    30. Sweden
    31. Switzerland
    32. United Kingdom
    33. United States


Components of the Survey


The survey is administered under the supervision of trained interviewers either in the respondent's home or in a location agreed between the respondent and the interviewer. After the sampled person is identified, the survey is administered in two stages:

  • Background Questionnaire

The background questionnaire is administered in a Computer-Aided Personal Interview format by the interviewer. The questionnaire collects information on the basic demographic characteristics of respondents; educational attainment and training participation; labour force status and employment; social outcomes; the use of literacy, numeracy and ICT skills at work and in everyday life; and the use of a range of other skills at work.

  • Direct Assessments

The respondents will be asked to complete these direct assessments with a tablet. The assessment is not timed and typically takes about 60 minutes to complete. 

Both components can take about 60 - 90 minutes to complete. 


Skills Measured in the survey

The direct assessment component of the survey evaluates the skills of adults in three fundamental domains: 

i.        Literacy

This refers to the ability to understand and use information from written texts in a variety of contexts to achieve goals and develop knowledge and potential. This is a core requirement for developing higher-order skills and for positive economic and social outcomes.

ii.        Numeracy

This refers to the ability to use, apply, interpret, and communicate mathematical information and ideas. It is an essential skill in an age when individuals encounter an increasing amount and wide range of quantitative and mathematical information in their daily lives. 

iii.        Adaptive problem solving

This refers to the ability to achieve one's goal in a dynamic situation, in which a method for solution is not immeidately available. Individuals will define the problem, search for information and apply a solution in a variety of information environments and context. 

These domains contitute "key information processing skills" for adults with the following consideration:

  • Provide foundation for the development of other, higher-order cognitive skills 
  • Prerequisites for gaining access to and understanding of specific domains of knowledge
  • Necessary in a broad range of contexts, from education through work and everyday life

Timeline for the Survey

Period Description

Mar 2020 - Mar 2021

Preparation of Field Trial materials and procedures

Apr 2021 - Jun 2021

Field Trial data collection

Nov 2021 - Jul 2022

Preparation of Main Study materials and procedures

Aug 2022 - Mar 2023

Main Study data collection

Apr 2023 - Dec 2024

Main Study analyses and dissemination of findings


Precautionary Measures against COVID-19


To ensure the safety and well-being of our interviewers and participants of the survey, the following will be implemented, in close alignment with guidelines from the Ministry of Health (MOH) and the Ministry of Education (MOE).

For Survey Participants

  • When arranging for an appintment date, participants will be asked to declare if the participant or any family members within the same household:

i.    have travelled recently; 

ii.    are currently on Home Quarantine Order, Leave of Absence (LOA), Stay Home Notice (SHN);

iii.    have mild flu-like symptoms

  • Participants are required to call the hoteline (6589 8358 EXT 606) stated in the notification letter or inform the field representative directly should they feel unwell on the day of the scheduled appointment and arrange for another session
  • Participants may request for field representatives to wear a mask when conducting the survey

For Field Representatives

  • Declaraion of any recent travel history, interaction with individuals under Home Quarantine Order/ Leave of Absence (LOA)/ Stay Home Notice (SHN) to the survey company
  • Twice daily declaration of temperature to the survey company when they are at work
  • Field representative will be equipped with masks (to be worn upon the request of survey participants) and alcohol wipes to sanitise the tablet computers for each use. 


Frequently Asked Questions


What is this survey about?
This survey has been designed to learn about the skills that adults use in their daily lives—such as reading, finding information, and using computers—as well as about their education and work experiences. This will help us to get a clearer picture of the current skills and needs of our workforce today.

Who is the person contacting me?
The field representative who contacts you will be carrying a photo identification badge issued by Ascentiq Pte Ltd, the appointed data collection agency.

How did you select me?
You have been randomly selected because your name and address have been picked up by chance using a database of residents aged 16-65 within Singapore.

Why don’t you ask someone else?
Taken as a group, the selected individuals will represent the resident population of Singapore in the findings of this survey. We cannot substitute anyone else for you if you do not participate, as this will adversely affect the information collected. While participation is voluntary, it is important that the selected individuals participate so that we can get a more accurate picture of the variety and range of adult skills in Singapore.

What should I do if I want to participate?

You must have received an invitation letter informing of your selection to participate in the study. To fix an appointment with the field representative, please call 6589 8358 EXT 606 or email

How long will this take?
The interview will take about 60 – 90 minutes.

What are you going to ask me?
The survey consists of two main parts. The first part is a questionnaire that asks about your educational background, work experiences, use of technology and other information. The remaining time is spent on a series of exercises such as reading and searching for information on a tablet.

How can I participate if I do not use a tablet?
There will be a tutorial that will allow you to practice the interactions (e.g. tapping on an object on the screen, dragging objects from one location on the screen to another, highlighting words on the screen) needed to complete the assessment exercises.

How do I know the information is confidential?
All information collected will be held in strict confidence by law. Individuals are never identified in any reports. All reported statistics refer to Singapore as a whole or to national subgroups. In addition, everyone working on the study has signed a confidentiality agreement pledging to keep all information provided by respondents confidential.

How will the results be used?
This survey will provide valuable information to educators, policy makers, and researchers on the current skills and experiences of adults in Singapore. This information, in turn, will be used to develop policies and programmes to improve the skills that individuals need to participate successfully in the economy and society of the future.


Contact Us


For research-related queries, please contact the following:

Dr Renee Tan, PIAAC National Project Manager (NPM)

Ms Aggie Choo, PIAAC National Data Manager (NDM)

Ms Tan Bao Zhen, PIAAC National Sampling Manager (NSM)