4228.0.30.001 - Microdata: Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies, Australia, 2011-2012 Quality Declaration 
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 09/10/2013   
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Confidentialised Unit Record Files (CURFs) are released in accordance with the conditions specified in the Statistics Determination section of the Census and Statistics Act 1905 (CSA). This ensures that confidentiality is maintained whilst enabling micro level data to be released. More information on the confidentiality practices associated with the CURFs can be found at the About CURF Microdata page.

For information on the institutional environment of the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), including the legislative obligations of the ABS, financing and governance arrangements, and mechanisms for scrutiny of ABS operations, please see ABS Institutional Environment.


Microdata from the Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC) survey are available as Basic CURFs and an Expanded CURF. The microdata on the Basic and Expanded CURF provide scores from exercises completed by respondents age 15-74 years, except for the Basic CURF (International Comparison version) which provides scores by respondents aged 16-65 years, to assess their literacy, numeracy and problem solving in a technology-rich environment skills, as well as a range of demographic data and information on educational attainment and skill use at work and in everyday life.

The level of detail provided is shown in the data item lists. The data item list for the Basic CURFs and Expanded CURF can be found by clicking on the Downloads tab of this product.


PIAAC was conducted throughout Australia from October 2011 to March 2012. It is the most recent survey of Adult Competencies conducted by the ABS, with the Adult Literacy and Life Skills (ALLS) survey conducted in 2006 and the Survey of Aspects of Literacy (SAL) survey in 1996.


The microdata contain finer levels of detail of data items than what is otherwise published in other formats, for example in Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC), 2011-2012 (cat. no. 4228.0). For more information on the level of detail provided, please see the associated data item lists.

Steps to confidentialise the data made available on the CURFs are taken in such a way as to maximise the usefulness of the content while maintaining the confidentiality of respondents selected in the survey. As a result it may not be possible to exactly reconcile all the statistics produced from the microdata with other published statistics. Further information about the steps taken to confidentialise the microdata is available through the following link: About CURF Microdata.


Data previously released for ALLS and SAL are not directly comparable with PIAAC data due to;

  • changes in the interpretation of the skill levels
  • combining the prose and document literacy scales into a single literacy scale
  • the numeracy scores from ALLS being recalculated using a model to incorporate the results of the countries which participated in the second round of ALLS.
A revised Expanded CURF and Basic CURF has been released for the ALLS survey, and a revised Basic CURF has been released for the SAL survey. Users of the revised data should refer to the new skill level descriptions provided in the appendix Scores and skill levels of the publication Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC), 2011-2012 (cat. no. 4228.0).

Remodelled scores from ALLS and SAL are also included in data cubes available from the Downloads tab of the publication Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC), 2011-2012 (cat. no. 4228.0).

PIAAC expands on the previous surveys by assessing skills in the domain of 'problem solving in technology-rich environments'. This domain is a new edition to PIAAC and is not comparable to the problem solving scale derived in ALLS.

New data items in PIAAC collected information about skill use and practices at work, including:

  • the use of generic skills in the workplace including communication, presentation and team-working skills
  • skill practices at work, specifically reading, writing, mathematics and ICT skill activities.

Caution is advised when comparing results from ALLS and SAL with data from PIAAC. While the re-modelled data should facilitate comparability over time, analysis undertaken by the ABS and internationally has shown that in some cases the observed trend is difficult to reconcile with other known factors and is not fully explained by sampling variability. For more information see the Explanatory Notes section of Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC), 2011-2012 (cat. no. 4228.0). Also see the PIAAC Explanatory Notes (cat. no. 4228.0) for information on the comparability of the surveys with other ABS surveys.

Australian data was also published in an international report released by the OECD on 8 October 2013, compiling the results of the 24 countries that participated in the first round of PIAAC. This report also included time series data for countries who participated in the previous iterations of PIAAC. The report and other outputs from the survey are available from the OECD website at www.oecd.org/site/piaac/.


The information within this product should be referred to when using the microdata. It contains information including Survey methodology, File structure, Using the CURF, Conditions of use and the Data item lists.

The Explanatory Notes section of Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC), 2011-2012 (cat. no. 4228.0) includes information on survey objectives, survey methods and design, data quality and interpretation, output data items, information about the availability of results and comparability with previous surveys.


Microdata products are available to approved users. A full list of available microdata can be viewed via the Expected and available Microdata web page. Users should familiarise themselves with information available via the Microdata Entry Page.

The PIAAC 2011-12 Basic CURF can be accessed on CD-ROM, the Basic CURF (International Comparison version) will be available as an electronic file, and the Expanded CURF can be accessed through the Remote Access Data Laboratory (RADL) and the ABS Data Laboratory (ABSDL). Users wishing to access a CURF should read the How to apply for Microdata web page, before applying for access through MiCRO. More detail regarding types and modes of access to CURFs can be found on the CURF Access Modes and Levels of Detail web page.

Any questions regarding access to microdata can be forwarded to microdata.access@abs.gov.au or phone (02) 6252 7714.