Study finds U.S. adults lag behind in job skills

The Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC) recently surveyed adults from around the world and found American adults lag many peer countries when it comes to job skills. Funded by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the extensive survey, released on October 8, analyzed adults in 23 countries in literacy and numeracy, among other areas.

Per this U.S. News and World Report article, U.S. adults ranked 16 out of 23 for literacy, third to last in math, and third to last in problem solving. The findings are not only disconcerting for adults, but paint a bleak picture when considering the strong link between a parent’s skills and education and their children’s.

This study affirms we cannot look at education and America’s competitiveness through the lens of one age group alone: adults or children. It’s what we have today, and it’s our pipeline in place for tomorrow. Perhaps the most troubling piece of these findings is that life opportunities for children born to U.S. adults with low skill levels are hampered: their odds of competing well in problem-solving and the workplace are not only low, but much lower than children in other countries.

Parents who improve their skills will not only help themselves, but also their children. Parents who have sharper skills can obtain better-paying jobs, improving the economic situation of their home and exposing the entire family to more opportunities. This increases the likelihood of the child doing well in school, going to college, and becoming competitive in the global workforce of tomorrow.

Today’s economy requires individuals to not only have specific academic skills, but to apply those skills to problem-solve and create. Continuous learning, post K-12 and after college, is essential. Families that learn together on an ongoing basis will build a foundation for success in the 21st century.

That’s what NCFL’s all about: from the foundational skills of literacy, to applying them and sharing them in relevant and real-world ways throughout the family.