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Survey reveals England adults struggle to keep pace with digital skills

Environments rich in technology are proving to be stumbling blocks for English adults who perform “significantly lower” than their international peers when problem solving using ICT tools and applications, a survey by the OECD has found.

The Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development’s international skills survey is designed to measure the capabilities of the adult population, testing actual ability in literacy, numeracy and digital skills rather than relying on the value of earned qualifications.

Some 166,000 adults between the ages of 16 to 65 took the test worldwide, with the digital examination being performed on laptop computers with a select number of simulated software applications, such as email, word processing, spreadsheets, databases and websites.

The OECD average in this area came in at 283, but England’s mean score was calculated at 281. This means that nine countries outperformed our green and pleasant island nation: Japan (294), Finland (289), Australia (289), Sweden (288), Norway (286), The Netherlands (286), Austria (284), Denmark (283) and Korea (283).

At the other end of the scale, countries clinging to significantly lower scores in ICT include Estonia (278), the United States (277), Republic of Ireland (277), Northern Ireland (275) and Poland (275).

The study found that most English adults were, at their most basic level, able to locate a specific piece of information in a database and assign emails to relevant folders.

This earned England a place in the OECD’s Band 1 category (out of a possible four bands), though the report significantly highlighted that our average digital ability could potentially be higher, since there was a higher proportion of English people in older age groups taking the test than in other countries.

Elsewhere on the test, England was found to be lagging in literacy and numeracy ability too, placing 22nd and 21st respectively out of 24 countries.

Image Credit: Flickr (Jeroen_Bennick)