Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies : in spite of overall mixed results, encouraging perspectives for Québec

Montréal, December 16, 2015 – The Institut de la statistique du Québec published today the first detailed Québec results of the Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC). The report, entitled Les compétences en littératie, en numératie et en résolution de problèmes dans des environnements technologiques : des clefs pour relever les défis du XXIe siècle, revealed that nearly one in five Québecers (19%) 16 to 65 years of age had a low level of literacy skills, while just over one in ten (11%) had a high level of literacy skills. Similar proportions were observed in numeracy skills (21% and 11% respectively). In addition, 19% of Québecers 16 to 65 years of age had the lowest level of competency in problem-solving in technology-rich environments (PS-TRE), while 17% were not assessed in this domain, mostly because they had no experience with computers or had failed a series of basic tasks used to assess their computer skills.

The report reveals that the overall results for Québec were lower than those in the rest of Canada, though certain sub-groups in the Québec population were as good as, if not better than those elsewhere in the country. The analyses show that people in Québec under 45 years of age who had a post-secondary degree or diploma tended to have better skills in literacy (among 25-44 year-olds) and in numeracy (among 16-24 and 25-44 year-olds) than their peers in the rest of Canada.

Other factors could be associated with the skills of Québec adults in processing information when taking into account educational level and age – parental education; employment status; non-formal education and training; engaging in personal non-workplace (i.e. personal) activities related to reading, writing, mathematics or computers; fluency in French or English. In this respect, we observe that second-generation Québecers, namely those born in Canada with at least one parent who is an immigrant – the majority of whom reported being francophone (47%) or anglophone (31%) – showed levels of competency in literacy and numeracy comparable to those who were third- or earlier- generation Québecers, namely those whose both parents were born in Canada, but higher than those of first-generation Québecers (recent immigrants or those who arrived a while ago – the majority of whom were allophones).

In addition to presenting numerous data on foundational information-processing skills, the report, published today on the website of the Institut, documents the education and training needs of workers, participation in structured apprenticeship activities, and obstacles to the latter.

The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) was responsible for the Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC). In 2011-2012, 24 countries participated in the program. In Canada, Statistics Canada was responsible for collecting data, and funding for Québec’s data collection in large part came from the Ministère de l’Éducation, de l’Enseignement supérieur et de la Recherche (MEESR).

The Institut de la statistique du Québec produces, analyses and disseminates official, objective and quality statistical information on various aspects of Québec society. It is the statistical coordinator for Québec and the relevance of its work makes it a strategic ally for decision makers and all those wishing to learn more about Québec.


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