Finns’ literacy, numeracy and ICT skills are among the highest in the OECD countries, according to a recent international survey. The survey found that younger Finns (16-24 year-olds) scored significantly above the average in literacy among the 24 OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) countries that participated in the survey. In numeracy, they scored significantly above the average.
Over 40% of the Finnish adult population scored at the highest levels in problem solving in technology-rich environments, a proportion significantly above the average of the OECD countries that participated in the PIAAC (Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies) survey. This is well over the OECD average (34%). The only country to exceed Finland in this area was Sweden.
Finnish adults have excellent literacy skills in relative terms internationally. Their average literacy score is well over the average score for the OECD countries. The only country that fared better was Japan. Two-thirds of the adult population in Finland are either considered good or excellent readers.
The average numeracy score of Finnish adults is among the best in the OECD. Japan was the only country that exceeded Finland in numeracy proficiency.
Quality education system contributes to Finnish skills base
These results should not come as a surprise to those who are aware of the international country rankings for education systems. Ever since Finland implemented significant education reforms 40 years ago, this Nordic nation has been rated with one of the best education systems in the world. Success in formal education opens up opportunities for individuals to access high skill jobs, which in turn helps maintain and develop high skills levels among adults.
Proficiency in basic skills is strongly connected to educational background in all participating OECD countries. Finland is no exception in the OECD average. The link between parents’ educational level to proficiency in basic skills is slightly higher in Finland than the OECD average. Participation rates in education and training in Finland are one of the highest in the world.
The PIAAC Survey, financed by the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture and the Finnish Ministry of Employment and the Economy, was the largest ever study organized by the OECD on the level and use of basic skills of the adult population. It assessed literacy and numeracy skills and the ability to solve problems in technology-rich environments among 16 to 65-year-olds in 24 countries.
Significant differences between age groups
There were some significant skills and problem-solving differences between age groups. Those aged 30 to 34 were the best in both literacy and numeracy, whereas those aged 25 to 29 had the best ability to solve problems in technology-rich environments.
Alongside their Japanese counterparts, Finns aged 20 to 34 were the best in both literacy and numeracy. In their ability to solve problems in technology-rich environments, this age group shared first place with the Swedes.
By Mark Badham via Ministry of Education and Culture’s Press Release