Skill acquisition, skill loss, and age. A comparative study of Cognitive Foundation Skills (CFS) in Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden.

Skill acquisition, skill loss, and age

A comparative study of Cognitive Foundation Skills

This study is about Cognitive Foundation Skills (CFS) in the adult populations aged 16-65 in Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden. CFS is here defined as literacy, numeracy and ICT (Information and Communications Technology) problem solving skills..

Research has shown CFS skills typically are weaker among older than among younger individuals. We want to study the association between age, CFS and the factors that promote skill acquisition and prevent depreciation of skills.

Our starting point is the OECD project PIAAC (Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies). Involving 25 countries, PIAAC is the most comprehensive international assessment of CFS ever conducted. For each country, a representative sample of at least 4000-5000 respondents is provided in 2011-12. In this project, we will substantially extend the already rich information in PIAAC through an opportunity that is only available in the Nordic countries: to combine the PIAAC data with data from official registers. The register data will include information on, e.g., the respondent’s educational career, history of employment/unemployment, and earnings.

We focus on three basic themes:

1. The associations between age and CFS in literacy, numeracy and problem solving with ICT. Are there differences between categories of adults, defined by, e.g. educational level, gender, immigrant status, educational and employment/unemployment experiences?

2. How are the associations between age and CFS to be explained? What is the relative importance of cohort effects and age effects, i.e. of when you were born and how old you are? Do the data support the hypothesis that we lose CFS as we age?

3. What are the similarities and differences among the Nordic countries with respect to CFS and age? From PISA we know that Finnish 15-year olds score higher on literacy than youth in other Nordic countries. Do we see the corresponding difference in other age categories, e.g., 25-30 year olds? What factors in youth and adult education may account for differences?

The researchers come from The Danish National Centre for Social Research; Institute for Educational Research and Department of languages, University of Jyväskylä; National Centre for Reading Education and Research, University of Stavanger; Gothenburg University, Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy, Uppsala and Linneaus University.