The Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC) is a multi-cycle international programme of assessment of adult skills and competencies in several countries conducted under the auspices of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). PIAAC assesses the levels and distributions of skills in the adult populations across countries, focusing on the cognitive and workplace skills needed for successful participation in the economy and society of the 21st-century. The survey consists of direct assessments of adults skills in literacy, numeracy and adaptive problem solving, as well as a background questionnaire making it possible to see skills in relation to the respondents’ background and use of skills in everyday life and at work. Four Nordic countries (Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden) and the Baltic countries Estonia and Latvia participate in cycle 2 of the survey. Together, these six countries form the Nordic-Baltic PIAAC network.

Cooperation regarding three milestones

Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Norway and Sweden participated in cycle 1 of the survey and cooperated about the implementation of PIAAC in the Nordic countries. The work of countries participating in the network resulted also in a Nordic PIAAC report, a Nordic PIAAC conference and the creation of a Nordic PIAAC database with combined survey and register data, which is placed at Statistics Denmark since June 2014.

The Nordic-Baltic countries continue their cooperation in PIAAC cycle 2. The Nordic-Baltic countries are relatively small and share a number of common interests and features. It can be difficult for each country to alone influence important decisions in international meetings, but the network can influence important decisions regarding PIAAC cycle 2 more strongly than each of the countries alone. Moreover, the countries also share a number of common features with respect to culture and society which facilitates cooperation and which makes comparative analyses of the Nordic-Baltic countries interesting. Moreover, the access to register information in the Nordic countries and in some of the Baltic countries makes it possible to conduct longitudinal studies on the data, which adds an important and interesting dimension to analyses of PIAAC data. In addition to cooperation regarding the implementation of PIAAC cycle 2 in the Nordic-Baltic countries, the countries also work to facilitate researchers’ access to combined PIAAC and register-data in the Nordic and Baltic countries. Moreover, cooperation among the countries comprises the following:

Publication of Nordic-Baltic thematic PIAAC reports

One of the main objectives of the work network is to publish a number of thematic Nordic-Baltic PIAAC reports in 2025 and 2026. The overall goal of the reports is to promote effectiveness and efficiency of labour market and educational policies in the Nordic and Baltic countries – in particular policies related to formal and informal adult training and education. A secondary goal is to advertise PIAAC data in order to extend the use of these data.

Coordinated Nordic-Baltic communication on PIAAC – in particular arranging a Nordic-Baltic PIAAC conference

This milestone comprises developing a Nordic-Baltic communication strategy with coordinated communication activities, such as the creation of the Nordic-Baltic PIAAC webpages, during the project period. It also includes arranging a Nordic-Baltic PIAAC conference in Helsinki in 2026. The start of the work between 2019 and 2021 on the Nordic-Baltic PIAAC reports and the coordinated communication on PIAAC are financed by the Nordic Council of Ministers.

Facilitation of researchers’ access to and analysis of combined PIAAC and register data

The primary goal with this target is to provide information for researchers and other users on how to access and analyse combined PIAAC and register data. This information can include information of the used registry data in each country, description of necessary steps for getting access to the data in different countries, as well as guidelines to analysing the data with different methods and tools. One other possible activity within the milestone is promoting one pilot research study using combined PIAAC and register data, but the scope of this milestone is not yet decided.

Members of national teams participate in the network

The Nordic-Baltic PIAAC network comprises leaders and members of the national teams implementing PIAAC cycle 2. The Governing Core of the Network consists of the formally appointed PIAAC National Project Managers and deputy managers. The overall leader of the network is PIAAC Cycle 2 National Project Manager Ann-Charlott Larsson, Statistics Sweden. The coregroup of the network meets on a regular basis (primarily skype meetings) to discuss and decide on current issues. The responsibilities for the three main parts of the project are divided between the Nordic countries. Sweden is responsible for activities under milestone 1 (Facilitating of researchers’ access to and analysis of combined PIAAC and register data) and Denmark is responsible for the thematic PIAAC reports (milestone 2). Norway has the main responsibility for the project’s communication strategy in co-operation with Finland who is responsible for the Nordic-Baltic PIAAC conference – to take place in Helsinki 2026 (milestone 3).

During 2021, a Nordic-Baltic PIAAC reference group, with representatives from all countries and from different target groups, is created. The main responsibilities of the reference group are to discuss and comment on publications made by the Nordic-Baltic PIAAC network.