Fall Institute 2013 – Interpreting PIAAC Results: Understanding Competencies of the Future (Oct. 27-29)

Institut d’automne 2013 – Interpréter les résultats de PEICA : Comprendre les compétences de l’avenir

At the 2013 Fall Institute we made some preliminary collective attempts to understand the PIAAC data on digital literacy, skills mismatchadult basic learners and more. Background Readings, Presentations, and Panel Discussions are now available online, and we are adding videos of the presentations as they become available. We have also mounted a stunning gallery of photographs from the event.

Twitter was buzzing with discussion during the institute: to see the tweets click here (Thanks to participant Peter Wilkins). It’s not too late to join the discussion. Follow us on twitter using the hashtag #FI2013MTL.  Also check  and comment on our Institute blog "Sabadoeey PIAAC?": Interpreting PIAAC Results, which takes its name from the fantastic opening play “Measure for Measure": an interpretation of the PIAAC results by Beautiful City Theatre Company." Look for comments on PIAAC youth respondents and PS-TRE and others.



Program highlights: 



This was the first large Canadian and international gathering after the long-awaited release of results from the Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC) by the OECD and the 24 participating countries on October 8, 2013.

It provides data on the literacy and numeracy skills of adults aged 16-65 that allows comparisons with previous international assessments and adds two new components that link the past and the future.  The Reading Component in PIAAC looks at the basic reading skills that are essential for the acquisition of literacy skills, such as word recognition, decoding, vocabulary knowledge and fluency, information never before gathered with adults. This knowledge is expected to give policy makers and literacy and essential skills providers more precise understanding of the problems that struggling readers face and may guide more targeted program interventions for adults at the lowest levels of literacy.  Looking forward, the Problem-Solving in Technology-Rich Environments (PS-TRE) component provides insight into the ability of adults to use technology to solve problems and accomplish complex tasks.  PS-TRE is not a measurement of “computer literacy” but of the cognitive skills deemed to be required in the information age.  The background questionnaire has gathered extensive demographic information and includes segments on skills used at work that will allow analyses of specific sub-groups.

The OECD will produce 6 international reports in 2014-15 on the following themes: The use of skills in the workplace; Skills and labour market outcomes; Skills mismatch; A closer look at the population with low levels of proficiency; Digital literacy in TRE and Information and Communication Technology (ICT) use; and Trends, ageing, and the determinants of skills.

Canada, drawing on the largest PIAAC sample of all participating countries (more than 27,000 respondents) will produce six reports of its own on themes of Skills in the Canadian Labour Market; Skills, education and adult learning; Competency profiles of official language minority communities (OLMCs), immigrants, Aboriginal populations; and Competency profiles and everyday life: Literacy’s health and social dimensions.

We learned at our recent Institute, Learning from IALS, Preparing for PIAAC, that there will be no official statements from OECD or governments about a specific level, e.g. level 3, required to function in everyday life because the data do not support such normative claims, and that no single set of data should be used in isolation to underpin policy or practice. On the other hand, we also learned that PIAAC will provide more data on the specific areas it measured than any previous surveys, and the findings used in conjunction with other relevant data sets can contribute to government policy development around adult skills, employability, gaps and mismatch, and future work and population well-being. A clearer understanding of what PIAAC does and does not measure can help policy makers, educators and researchers interpret results in a more nuanced way than we may have done in the past.

Invitees for the Fall Institute include British economist Francis Green, who has studied employability and skills and relationships between employability and health and well-being; David Rosen, American adult educator and researcher who has been a pioneer in adult basic learning and technology, working with learners and providers and governments; and Namir Anani, President and CEO of Canada’s Information and Communications Technology Council (ICTC), a centre of expertise that conducts ICT research and labour market intelligence and policy development for the digital economy.





The Centre de documentation sur l’éducation des adultes et la condition féminine (CDÉACF) collects, disseminates and makes knowledge and know-how in French accessible to all involved in education, from adult literacy and training to the advancement of women’s issues, in Québec and in all francophone communities across Canada.



Le Réseau pour le développement de l’alphabétisme et des compétences (RESDAC) works with its members and partners to develop strategies to improve the Literacy and Essential Skills of French speaking adults in Canada. RESDAC activities are based on a shared vision of lifelong learning as an essential instrument that enables all Francophones to be fully engaged in the civic, economic, social and cultural activities of their community.



Presenter Biographies

  • Namir Anani, Information and Communications Technology Council (ICTC)
  • Francis Green, Centre for Centre for Learning and Life Chances in Knowledge Economies and Societies (LLAKES)
  • David Rosen, adult literacy practitioner and researcher


Namir Anani is President and CEO of Canada’s Information and Communications Technology Council (ICTC), a centre of expertise on ICT research and labour market intelligence, policy development, and program management for the digital economy.  ICTC has produced a Digital Literacy Whitepaper and papers on topics such as Women in Information Technology.  They have a network in industry, government and academia.  Namir previously led Policy Development & Research at the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC). He has also held executive leadership roles in both the private and public sectors including the Department of Canadian Heritage (Director General & CEO), CGI consulting, Nortel, and Novartis (Switzerland).  Mr. Anani has experience in strategic policy development and implementation, learning and capacity building, business transformation, national/international strategic alliances, economic and market research, and technology innovation.  Namir has a Bachelor of Science (Honours) in Electrical Engineering from the University of Salford (UK) and holds a Professional Engineer designation in Ontario (P. Eng.).



Francis Green is Professor of Skills Development and Labour Economics at the  Centre for Learning and Life Chances in Knowledge Economies and Societies (LLAKES), Institute of Education, London University. After graduating in Physics at Oxford University, he studied Economics at the London School of Economics, and wrote his PhD thesis at Birkbeck College. His research focuses on skills, training, work quality and industrial relations issues. He has published more than a hundred papers and ten books, including his most recent  Skills and Skilled Work. An Economic and Social Analysis, (Oxford University Press, 2012). He regularly provides advice and reports for UK government departments and international organisations, including the OECD, World Bank and the European Commission. He is currently co-director of the longitudinal study Skills and Employment Survey, a series of nationally representative surveys which are run every 6 years.


David Rosen is an adult literacy practitioner and researcher. As former Director of the Adult Literacy Resource Institute/SABES for the State of Massachusetts, he was a pioneer in using technology for adult basic learning and professional development.  He designed training and professional development modules for teachers in central Massachusetts on integrating technology.  He has collaborated with Steve Reder at Portland State University (Oregon) as an Advisor and trainer for the national Learner Web project, a blended learning model used by community colleges, One Stop Career Centers, and ABE programs in 10 states. Now an international consultant, David has done projects around the world on program development for adults,  out-of-school youth, middle school and high school education, on non-formal and adult education policy development, use of internet technology, and on curriculum and program evaluation.  He is uniquely positioned to link the PIAAC components on literacy, reading and problem-solving in technology-rich environments.

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