More PIAAC analysis

In my earlier post, I wrote about a PIAAC study commissioned by the federal government and the Council of Ministers of Education, CMEC. I wanted to let you know about three other papers.

The first is another of the PIAAC thematic reports, “Post Secondary Education and Skills in Canada” (Postsecondary Education and Skills in Canada). This large report looks at those with post-secondary credentials in relation to literacy, numeracy and problem solving in a technology rich environment (PS-TRE).

The executive summary lists the key findings as:

  • Having a postsecondary credential tends to be associated with higher levels of performance in all three skills.
  • While skill levels of Aboriginal populations remain below those of non-Aboriginal populations, the gap narrows and even disappears for Aboriginal people with postsecondary credentials. In literacy, Aboriginal Canadians with all types of postsecondary credentials perform as well as non-Aboriginal Canadians with similar credentials; in numeracy, those with college and university credentials perform at the same level.
  • Across Canada, official-language minority populations with college or university credentials fare as well as their official-language majority counterparts in the same jurisdictions.
  • In comparison to most OECD countries, Canada has a high proportion of immigrants, and this needs to be considered when looking at results. At the college level, native-born Canadians score at the OECD average in literacy and foreign-born Canadians score below. At the university level, the former score above the OECD average in literacy and at the average in numeracy, while the latter score at the average in both domains. Finally, foreign-born Canadians with postsecondary non-tertiary qualifications score at the OECD average in both literacy and numeracy, while native-born Canadians score below.
  • The skills of immigrants are not just correlated with their foreign birth; they are also associated with where they received their postsecondary credential and how long they have lived in Canada. Those who have received their credential in Canada, as well as those who have resided in Canada for longer periods of time, display higher skills.
  • Certain sociodemographic characteristics, such as age, gender, and socioeconomic background, tend to be associated with lower skill levels. This association is weaker, however, among those who possess a postsecondary credential than among those who do not.
  • High skills and postsecondary attainment together are associated with the best employment outcomes, as Canadians with both these attributes are the most likely of all to be employed.
  • Postsecondary education and high levels of skill tend to be associated with positive social outcomes, including self-reported good health, trust in others, and having influence on government.

Another report in the series, “Skills Proficiency of Immigrants in Canada”, (Skills Proficiency of Immigrants in Canada) found that the foreign-born population had lower proficiency levels than native-born Canadians, but it performed better than the foreign-born population average in OECD countries.

Finally, I came across a brief report from August 2016, “inFocus: PIAAC In Canada – What is the role of education in developing literacy and numeracy in the territories?” (inFocus: PIAAC in Canada). While not part of the thematic series, this policy analysis shines a spotlight on literacy skills in the north. Its main finding is, “in the three territories, higher levels of educational attainment, participation in adult education and training, and parental education all contribute positively to skills performance for both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal populations.”

These reports all demonstrate the centrality of literacy, numeracy and PS-TRE skills to our lives and their influence on social, health, economic and community well-being.

The thematic reports may be found at as well as at which is also where you’ll find the inFocus report.

About Brigid Hayes

Brigid Hayes has developed an expertise in learning that spans over 30 years as a senior government policy advisor and program manager and partnership developer; director of labour for a national business/labour skills centre and as an independent consultant. Her knowledge of and experience in workplace literacy and learning has contributed to her recognition as an expert in this field, and she has undertaken significant activities to both help promote and enhance literacy and lifelong learning. Brigid works as an independent consultant and expert advisor on learning, literacy, and work. She has successfully developed a strategic planning and policy development practice involving workplace literacy, essential skills, partnership development, research, and evaluation.
This entry was posted in Adult Literacy and Basic Skills Policy, CMEC, Employment and Social Development Canada, ESDC, Federal Government and Literacy, International Literacy Surveys, Literacy and Essential Skills, PIAAC. Bookmark the permalink.

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