Comparative Analysis of Young Adults in England in the International Survey of Adult Skills 2012

Rebecca Wheater, Jack Worth

11 December 2014

This report is available to download from the BIS website

The International Survey of Adult Skills is an international study led by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). It assesses adults’ skills in literacy, numeracy and problem solving in technology-rich environments, and collects background information about participants through a questionnaire. In the UK, England and Northern Ireland participated in the 2013 study. The Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) commissioned NFER to conduct some additional analysis following publication of the main report in September 2013.

This report focuses on the performance of young people in England compared with top performing countries in the survey. England’s overall performance was similar to the OECD average in literacy and below the OECD average in numeracy. The performance of young people, aged 16-24 was identified as being of particular concern when comparisons were made internationally. Re-examination and further analysis of the data from the England national report and the OECD international report from the Survey of Adult Skills offers some explanation for this relative poor performance.

  • This research suggests that the final stages of compulsory education do not develop young adults skills to perform the type of real-world literacy and numeracy assessed by the International Survey of Adult Skills 2012 and that
  • young people in England are less likely to be in education or training.

Other analyses from the 2013 survey: