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This is one of three summary reports from the Survey of Adult Skills. This report covers key findings on how New Zealand adults’ skills compare internationally and on the skill levels of different groups of New Zealanders.

Key findings

  • »  New Zealand adults’ literacy and problem solving skills are on average among the highest in the OECD
  • »  New Zealand adults’ numeracy skills are on average higher than the OECD average
  • »  Although there are significant differences in skills between ethnic groups, average literacy and numeracy skills have been rising faster among Māori and Pasifika than in the total New Zealand population
  • »  Overseas-born New Zealanders have on average higher literacy and numeracy scores than overseas-born people in any other country
  • »  While there are no differences in average literacy and problem solving skills between men and women, men have higher numeracy skills on average than women

What is the Survey of Adult Skills?

The Survey of Adult Skills measures the skills of New Zealand adults in literacy, numeracy and problem solving in technology rich environments. It is part of the OECD’s Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC). The Survey of Adult Skills provides the first picture of skills for those aged 16 to 65 in New Zealand since 2006. The survey has been run across 32 other countries, making it possible to compare the skills of adults in New Zealand internationally.

Skills are becoming more important in the modern workplace and in everyday life. Higher skills are associated with better jobs, higher income and greater well-being. The Survey of Adult Skills can help answer key questions related to skills in New Zealand, such as:

  • »  what are the characteristics of the most skilled and least skilled people in New Zealand in terms of education, employment, income, well-being and other characteristics?
  • »  how do New Zealanders use their skills at work and at home?
  • »  what areas should we focus on to improve the skills of New Zealand adults?

The survey was undertaken in 2014 with a representative sample of New Zealand households. In total, 6,177 people were surveyed. It was conducted in English and included an extensive background questionnaire covering education, employment, and the use of skills at work and in everyday life.



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