Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies

International PIAAC survey

Albertans have scored the highest in Canada in an international survey of literacy, numeracy and problem solving skills.

The Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC) was released Oct. 8, 2013 by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

PIAAC assessed adult competencies for people aged 16-65 in 33 countries. PIAAC tests literacy, numeracy, and the ability to problem solve in a technology-rich environment. It measures the key cognitive and workplace skills needed for individuals to participate in society and for economies to prosper. 

All Albertans from childhood through adult life need strong literacy and numeracy skills to effectively and efficiently learn new skills, adopt and adapt advanced information and communication technologies, optimize their lifelong learning potential, and become active, participating members of their community and society.

To address this the Government of Alberta launched Living Literacy: A Framework for Alberta’s Next
Generation Economy
in 2009 to respond to the need for greater awareness and coordinated actions to ensure that:
• Albertans have the literacy competencies to participate fully and successfully in living, learning and work
• Alberta has a knowledgeable and innovative population able to thrive and contribute to the next generation

PIAAC Alberta results

According to the results of the PIAAC survey, Alberta ranks highest in Canada and above or at the OECD average in the following domains:

  • Problem Solving in Technology Rich Environments PS-TRE (computer/technology literacy and skills)
  • Literacy
  • Numeracy

Other Alberta results include:

  • 83% of Alberta respondents are able to complete the computer-based assessment (above the OECD average of 74%).
  • Alberta scores above the Canadian and OECD average in literacy, and above the Canadian average and at the OECD in numeracy above both the Canadian and OECD average in PS-TRE.
  • Alberta is the only jurisdiction in Canada with more people at the highest levels of proficiency in literacy, numeracy and computer literacy skills compared to the OECD average.
  • Alberta's proportion of the population at the lowest proficiency levels is at the OECD average in all three domains. 
  • Alberta has 19% of respondents who completed the PIAAC assessment not in their native language, which is 9% above the OECD average, but 4% below the Canadian average.
  • The mean score for Alberta’s youth aged 16 to 24 is at the OECD average in literacy and numeracy. The 49% of Alberta’s population aged 16 to 24 performing at middle-range (Levels 2 or 3) in PS-TRE is at the OECD average.
  • Literacy scores of Albertans aged 16 to 65 who have a bachelor's degree or higher are at the OECD average. 

Council of Ministers of Education Canada (CMEC)
CMEC provides leadership in education at the pan-Canadian and international levels and contributes to the exercise of the exclusive jurisdiction of provinces and territories over education.

Full PIAAC results
Find more information on the Programme for International Assessment of Adult Competencies at the Canadian and OECD level.

Literacy Resources

Albertans have resources to help them improve their own literacy and essential skills. If you are interested in trying to improve your own literacy skills find help with any of the services below.

Adult Literacy and Learning programs
Alberta Advanced Education supports learning opportunities for adults across Alberta. Presently, 124 organizations in 83 communities receive funding through the ministry's Community Adult Learning Program.

Living Literacy
Living Literacy: A Literacy Framework for Alberta’s Next Generation Economy provides a framework for action that coordinates the efforts of the Government of Alberta and our many partners to improve literacy levels for Albertans so they can improve their quality of life and achieve their full potential.

Literacy in school
Alberta Education has developed Literacy First: A Plan for Action.  This Kindergarten to Grade 12 action plan supports the vision, values and goals of the provincial literacy framework. Literacy, numeracy, and competencies such as problem solving and critical thinking are also at the heart of Curriculum Redesign.

Work Foundations
The purpose of Work Foundations, run by Human Services, is to provide full-time and part-time basic skills training and academic upgrading to enable clients to pursue further job-related training and/or to find a job and substantially improve their situation.

Workplace Essential Skills Training Program
The Workplace Essential Skills Training Program, run by Human Services, supports workplace essential skills training through the development of partnerships designed to foster a confident, innovative and highly literate workforce. These partnerships will assist employed Albertans gain the essential skills necessary to fully participate at work and contribute to a highly productive workplace.