Research digs deeper into young adults’ skills in England
11 December 2014
NFER research into how the skills of young adults in England compare to other countries, and the implications of these differences, has been published today by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS).
The three reports provide detailed analysis of data on three key areas from the 2012 International Survey of Adult Skills: the performance of young adults, young adults’ skills gain, and the impact of low skills on labour market engagement.
Also known as PIAAC, the survey is an international study led by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). It assesses adults’ skills in literacy, numeracy and problem-solving, and collects background information on participants. NFER ran the survey in participating UK countries – England and Northern Ireland – as well as producing their national reports.
Our further analyses reveal that:
- Skills levels relate positively to productivity - although young adults enter the world of work or further education with relatively low skills compared to other OECD countries, they do continue to effectively develop the relevant skills while in the workplace. Businesses in England seem to make more efficient use of these skills than many other countries, giving young adults more opportunities to practise these skills and translating them into productivity (earnings).
- Young people in England perform relatively poorly in literacy and numeracy - the final stages of compulsory education do not develop young adults’ ability to perform the types of tasks of real world literacy and numeracy assessed in the OECD survey. Young people (aged 16-24) are also less likely to be participating in education or training and less likely to use numeracy skills in their daily lives.
- Young adults’ skills improve in the workplace or further education - in most other OECD countries, skills peak at the end of compulsory education; in England young adults show significant gains in the period after compulsory education.
For the full reports see: