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Learning a Living: First Results of the Adult Literacy and Life Skills Survey

Learning a Living and Earning Skills, the first report from the Adult Literacy and Life Skills Survey (ALL), presents new evidence on the nature and magnitude of the literacy gaps faced by Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries and how these gaps have evolved over the past decade.

It offers new insights into the factors that influence the formation and loss of adult skills in various settings – at home and at work – for the seven countries participating in the first round of data collection. The study offers the first comparative evidence on the impact of formal adult education and informal learning on the supply of skill. It also provides unique insight into the distribution of information and communication technology skills, and how these have amplified both productivity and wage inequality.

Findings point to large differences in the average level and population distribution of skills both within and between countries. Low skills are evident among all adult groups in significant—albeit varying – proportions. Skills vary substantially even at similar levels of educational attainment. Hence some countries are more successful than others in building skills beyond initial schooling. These differences matter because skills are closely associated with economic life chances and quality of life.

Improving skills, particularly among those with real life deficits, remains a large challenge. But policy can make a difference. The evidence shows how some countries have succeeded in building high levels of skill in multiple domains. Others have managed to improve the skills of the entire population. Again others have come close to realizing lifelong learning for all.

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Date modified: 2005-05-11 Important Notices
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