SPAIN is near the bottom of the list in a new survey of literacy and numeracy levels amongst adults in developed countries.
That means the country, along with Italy, could be being held back in the fight to emerge from economic hardship.
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Survey of Adult Skills measured the skills of 16 to 65-year-olds across 24 countries and looked at how literacy, numeracy and problem-solving is used at work.
The results reveal the challenges some major economies face in boosting their skills levels. In reading, more than one in five adults in Italy (27.7 per cent), Spain (27.5 per cent) and France (21.6 per cent) perform at or below the most basic level, compared with one in 20 Japanese (4.9 per cent) and one in 10 Finns (10.6 per cent).
Almost one in three adults in Italy (31.7 per cent), Spain (30.6 per cent) and the United States (28.7 per cent) perform at or below the most basic level of numeracy, compared to around one in 10 in Japan (8.2 per cent), Finland (12.8 per cent) and the Czech Republic (12.8 per cent).
The Survey also reveals the extent of the “digital divide”, with millions failing to master even simple computer skills, such as using a computer mouse. This ranges from nearly one in four adults in Italy, Korea, Poland, the Slovak Republic and Spain to one in 14 adults in the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden.
It provides clear evidence of how developing and using skills improves employment prospects and quality of life as well as boosting economic growth. It helps countries set meaningful targets benchmarked against the achievements of the world’s leading skills systems and to develop relevant policy responses.
“Too many people are being left behind today,” said OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría: “With effective education and life-long learning everyone can develop their full potential. The benefits are clear, not only for individuals, but also for societies and for the economy.”
Launching the report in Brussels with with Androulla Vassiliou, European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, Mr.Gurría added. “Learning does not stop at school: governments, businesses and people can and must continue investing in skills throughout life.”
The survey shows that high quality initial education is an important predictor for success in adult life. But countries must combine this with flexible, skills-oriented learning opportunities throughout life, in particular for working-age adults.