Programme for the International
Assessment of Adult Competencies

PIAAC: An Overview

The Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC) was initiated by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and is steered by the PIAAC Board of Participating Countries. Twenty-four countries, including Germany, participated in the first round of PIAAC. The first round started in 2008 and results were published in 2012. In Germany, PIAAC was implemented by GESIS – Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences and funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) with support from the Federal Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs (BMAS). GESIS was also part of the international consortium commissioned by the OECD to design and monitor the implementation of PIAAC. As a part of this consortium, GESIS was involved in the development of the PIAAC background questionnaire and was also responsible for its validation and translation.

The OECD intends to repeat PIAAC at regular ten-year intervals. The first published round, PIAAC 2012, marked the starting point of this multi-cycle program. Further cycles will enable future changes in adult skills to be monitored and analyzed. As mentioned above, twenty-four countries participated in Round I of the first cycle of PIAAC. A second round, which started in 2012, includes nine additional countries. In 2016, the OECD initiated a third round of the first cycle of PIAAC with six additional countries [].

In PIAAC at least 5,000 randomly selected respondents between the ages of 16 and 65 were interviewed and assessed in each participating country. In Germany, approximately 5,400 interviews were conducted using a two-stage register-based sampling technique. The survey was carried out as a personal interview (background questionnaire) with a subsequent skills assessment (see Zabal et al., 2014).

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