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.
Read about the first cycle of the survey here:
Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC)
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.
List of Countries Participating in Cycle 2
07. Czech Republic
22. New Zealand
27. Slovak Republic
31. United Kingdom
32. 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:
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.
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:
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.
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.
3. 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 immediately 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
Mar 2020 - Mar 2021
Preparation of Field Trial materials and procedures
Apr 2021 - Jul 2021
Field Trial data collection
Nov 2021 - Aug 2022
Preparation of Main Study materials and procedures
Sep 2022 - Apr 2023
Main Study data collection
May 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).
1. For Survey Participants
- Participants are required to call the hotline (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, even if the interview is done outdoors or at a mask-optional location
2. For Field Representatives
- Field representative will declare to the survey company if they feel unwell at any point or test positive for COVID-19, and will not conduct any interviews or door-knocks.
- Field representatives are encouraged to keep their masks at all times, even if the interview is done outdoors or at a mask-optional location
- Field representatives will avoid any physical contact with participants and maintain a social distance of 1m
- Field representatives will be equipped with alcohol wipes to sanitise the tablet computers for each use
- Tablet computers are coated with a self-disinfecting, microbial layer that lasts for three months
Frequently Asked Questions
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.
The field representative who contacts you will be carrying a photo identification badge issued by Ascentiq Pte Ltd, the appointed data collection agency.
You have been selected because your name and address have been picked up by chance from a database of residents aged 16-65 within Singapore. Please rest assured that in doing so, all PDPA and data confidentiality laws are strictly adhered to.
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.
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 email@example.com
The interview will take about 60 – 90 minutes.
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.
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.
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.
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.