Note that some common concepts used in other ABS publications that differ for PIAAC are indicated by the use of "For PIAAC"
Apprenticeship or other training scheme
For PIAAC, an apprenticeship or other training scheme is where a person has signed a legal contract with an employer to undertake on-the-job training to become a trades person. An apprenticeship includes additional studies.
Australian Standard Classification of Education (ASCED)
The ASCED is a national standard classification which includes all sectors of the Australian education system: that is, schools, vocational education and training, and higher education. From 2001, ASCED replaced a number of classifications used in administrative and statistical systems, including the ABSCQ. The ASCED comprises two classifications: Level of Education and Field of Education. See Australian Standard Classification of Education (cat. no. 1272.0).
The background questionnaire obtained general information from the respondent on topics including education and training, employment, income and skill use in literacy, numeracy, and ICT. Respondents (only those who did not have language problems) then proceeded to undertake the self-enumerated exercise to assess their literacy, numeracy and PSTRE skills.
Computer refers to a mainframe, desktop or laptop computer, or any other device that can be used to do such things as sending or receiving email messages, processing data or text, or finding things on the internet. This includes mobile phones and other hand-held electronic devices that are used to connect to the internet, check emails etc.
Self-enumerated exercises for the respondent to complete on the computer which measured literacy, numeracy or problem solving in technology-rich environments skills. Respondents were directed to complete a computer-based exercise if they had indicated that they had prior computer experience.
The core stage of the self-enumerated exercise was designed to assess the respondent's capacity to undertake the main exercise. The computer-based path contained Core Stage 1 which determined if the respondent had the necessary basic computer skills (such as clicking, typing, scrolling, dragging, highlighting and using pull-down menus) to proceed with the computer-based path, and Core Stage 2 which determined if the respondent had the basic literacy and numeracy skills to proceed to the main exercise. The paper-based path had a core booklet to determine if the respondent had the basic literacy and numeracy skills to continue to the main exercise.
Correspondence or distance courses
Correspondence or distance courses require communicating with a teacher or trainer by exchanging printed or electronic media, or through technology that allows communication in real time. Such a course may include periodic live-in or residential sessions. It may be also be referred to as studying 'externally'.
Country of birth
Country of birth has been classified according to the Standard Australian Classification of Countries (SACC), 1998 (Second Edition) (cat. no. 1269.0).
This measure of literacy was collected in ALLS 2006 SAL 1996. It is defined as the knowledge and skills required to locate and use information contained in various formats including job applications, payroll forms, transportation schedules, maps, tables and charts. The document literacy scores from ALLS and SAL will be combined with the prose literacy scores (from ALLS and SAL), and remodelled to produce a combined literacy scale comparable to the PIAAC literacy scale.
For PIAAC, people who, during the reference week:
- did paid work for one hour or more for an employer or in their own business, or
- were away from a job or business that they plan to return to, or
- did unpaid work for at least one hour for a business that they or a relative owns.
Employed persons who usually worked 35 hours or more a week (in main job).
Employed persons who usually worked less than 35 hours a week (in main job).
An employee is a person who works for a public or private employer and receives remuneration in wages or salary; or is paid a retainer fee by his/her employer, while working on a commission basis; or works for an employer for tips, piece-rates or payment in kind; or, is a person who operates his/her own incorporated enterprise with or without hiring employees.
Equivalised household income
Equivalised household income is household income adjusted by the application of an equivalence scale to facilitate comparison of income levels between households of differing size and composition, reflecting that a larger household would normally need more income than a smaller household to achieve the same standard of living. Equivalised household income is derived by calculating an equivalence factor according to the 'modified OECD' equivalence scale, and then dividing income by the factor. The equivalence factor is built up by allocating points to each person in a household (1 point to the first adult, 0.5 points to each additional person who is 15 years and over, and 0.3 to each child under the age of 15) and then summing the equivalence points of all household members. Equivalised household income can be viewed as an indicator of the economic resources available to a standardised household. For a lone person household it is equal to household income. For a household comprising more than one person, it is an indicator of the household income that would be needed by a lone person household to enjoy the same level of economic wellbeing.
Field of education
Field of education is defined as the subject matter of an educational activity. It is categorised according to the Australian Standard Classification of Education, 2001 (cat. no. 1272.0) Field of Education classification. This publication presents the main field of education studied.
Fixed term contract
A fixed term contract refers to people who have a contract with an employer or client that has a specific end date or event.
Formal education / qualification
Refers to studies that, when completed result in formal qualifications at primary, secondary, university or post-secondary level.
A group of related or unrelated persons who usually live in the same dwelling and make common provision for food and other essentials of living; or a lone person who makes provision for his or her own food and other essentials of living without combining with any other person.
An indefinite contract refers to people who work for an employer, under a contract or agreement (e.g. a Collective or Enterprise Agreement) as an on-going employee with no set end or finish date to their employment. These people usually have a fixed number of hours each week and are entitled to paid annual and sick leave.
Industry data is classified according to the Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC), 2006 (cat. no. 1292.0).
Information and Communications Technology (ICT) skills
Respondents who indicated they had prior computer experience provided information about the frequency of their computer and internet usage and, if applicable, the level of computer skills required for their current/last job.
For PIAAC, activities that are job-related do not necessarily refer to one specific job, but to employment in general.
Labour force status
A classification into the categories of employed, unemployed and out of the labour force (international terminology) or not in labour force (Australian terminology). The data item capturing labour force in the Basic CURF applies a concept of labour force as defined for the international PIAAC survey. The definition of the Employed category in this international version is essentially the same as the equivalent Australian item in the Expanded CURF. However there is a subtle difference in the concept of 'Unemployed', which in turn impacts on the estimates for 'Out of labour force'. See the Unemployed definitions provided below for further detail.
Last job or business
This refers to people who do not have current employment, but have recent work experience in the 12 months prior to the interview, or who left paid work within the five years prior to the interview.
Level of education
Level of education is a function of the quality and quantity of learning involved in an educational activity. It is categorised according to the Australian Standard Classification of Education, 2001 (cat. no. 1272.0) Level of Education classification.
Level of highest educational attainment
Level of highest educational attainment identifies the highest achievement a person has attained in any area of study. It is not a measurement of the relative importance of different fields of study but a ranking of qualifications and other educational attainments regardless of the particular area of study or the type of institution in which the study was undertaken. See Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC) (cat. no. 4228.0) for how highest level is derived.
Literacy, as defined by the OECD for the PIAAC survey, is understanding, evaluating, using and engaging with written texts to participate in society, to achieve one's goals, and to develop one's knowledge and potential. Refer to Scores and skill levels of Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC) (cat. no. 4228.0) for further information about literacy skill levels.
Longstanding illness or longstanding health problem
An illness or health problems which had lasted, or was likely to last for at least six months.
Main English speaking countries
Main English speaking countries (excluding Australia) are: Canada, Republic of Ireland, New Zealand, South Africa, United Kingdom and United States of America.
The main exercise was a set of self-enumerated tasks which were designed to measure the respondent's skills in the domains of literacy, numeracy or problem solving in technology-rich environments. The main exercise could be conducted by either a computer-based exercise or paper-based exercise. The problem solving in technology-rich environments domain was only assessed in the computer-based exercises. Respondents proceeded to the main exercise if they passed the core stage.
Main job or business
This refers to the job or business where the person was employed for the most hours during the reference week. If the person had two jobs or businesses where they worked the same amount of time, this refers to the job or business where they earned the most.
Marginal attachment to the labour force
People who were not in the labour force in the reference week, wanted to work and:
- were actively looking for work but did not meet the availability criteria to be classified as unemployed; or
- were not actively looking for work but were available to start work within four weeks.
The criteria for determining those in the labour force are based on activity (i.e. working or looking for work) and availability to start work during the reference week. The criteria associated with marginal attachment to the labour force, in particular the concepts of wanting to work and reasons for not actively looking for work, are more subjective. Hence, the measurement against these criteria is affected by the respondent's own interpretation of the concepts used. An individual respondent's interpretation may be affected by their work aspirations, as well as family, economic and other commitments.
Non-school qualifications are awarded for educational attainments other than those of pre-primary, primary or secondary education. They include qualifications at the Postgraduate Degree level, Master Degree level, Graduate Diploma and Graduate Certificate level, Bachelor Degree level, Advanced Diploma and Diploma level, and Certificates I, II, III and IV levels. Non-school qualifications may be attained concurrently with school qualifications.
Not in the labour force / Out of the labour force
People who were not in the categories 'employed' or ' unemployed'.
Numeracy, as defined by the OECD for the PIAAC survey, is the ability to access, use, interpret, and communicate mathematical information and ideas, in order to engage in and manage the mathematical demands of a range of situations in adult life. This definition should be paired with the definition of numerative behaviour which is managing a situation or solving a problem in a real context, by responding to mathematical content/information/ideas represented in multiple ways. See Scores and skill levels of Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC) (cat. no. 4228.0) for further information about Numeracy skill levels.
The observation module was a series of questions that the interviewer answered when the interview was complete and the interviewer had left the respondent's home. The questions collected information about the interview setting such as any events that might have interrupted or distracted the respondent during the exercise.
Occupation data is classified according to the Australian Standard Classification of Occupations, First Edition, 2006 (cat. no. 1220.0).
Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)
The OECD is an international organisation that works with governments to understand what drives economic, social and environmental change in order to promote policies that will improve economic and social well-being. For PIAAC, the OECD coordinated an international consortium of organisations to manage the survey across the 24 countries that participated in the survey.
Out of the labour force / Not in the labour force
People who were not in the categories 'employed' or ' unemployed'.
Paid work is any work for pay or profit, even for as little as one hour per week. Pay includes cash payments or "payment in kind" (payment in goods or services rather than money), whether payment was received in the week the work was done or not. Also counted as working for pay is anyone who receives wages for on-the-job training that involves the production of goods or services.'
Self-enumerated exercises for the respondent to complete in paper booklets which measured literacy or numeracy as well as basic reading skills. Respondents were directed to complete a paper-based exercise if they did not have prior computer experience (as determined by their answers in the background questionnaire), if they did not pass the computer-based Core Stages, or they refused to take the computer-based exercise.
For each respondent ten plausible values were generated for each of the skill domains measured for that respondent. All values presented in the publication are obtained by using all ten plausible values in combination. See: Scores and skill levels of Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC) (cat. no. 4228.0) for further information about the calculation of the plausible values.
Problem Solving in Technology-Rich Environments (PSTRE)
PSTRE, as defined by the OECD for the PIAAC survey, is using digital technology, communication tools and networks to acquire and evaluate information, communicate with others and perform practical tasks. PIAAC focuses on the ability to solve problems for personal, work and civic purposes by setting up appropriate goals and plans, accessing and making use of information through computers and computer networks. See Scores and skill levels of Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC) (cat. no. 4228.0) for further information about PSTRE skill levels.
This measure of prose literacy was collected in ALLS 2006 and SAL 1996. It is defined as the knowledge and skills needed to understand and use various kinds of information from text including editorials, news stories, brochures and instruction manuals. The prose literacy scores from ALLS and SAL will be combined with the document literacy scores (from ALLS and SAL), and will be remodelled to produce a combined literacy scale which will be comparable to the PIAAC literacy scale.
Formal certification, issued by a relevant approved body, in recognition that a person has achieved an appropriate level of learning outcomes or competencies relevant to identified individual, professional, industry or community needs. Statements of attainment awarded for partial completion of a course of study at a particular level are excluded.
The Reading Components booklet measured basic reading skills and contained three parts: word meaning, sentence processing and basic passage comprehension.
The week preceding the week in which the interview was conducted.
This is the probability of a respondent providing a correct answer to an item in the self-enumerated assessment. It is a function of two things: an item's characteristics (e.g. level of difficulty) and a respondent's characteristics (e.g. age, education). For PIAAC, a model with a response probability value of 0.67 was used. Therefore, the proficiency score in a skill domain reflects the level of difficulty of items that a respondent, as well as other people with a similar profile, are able to answer correctly 67% of the time.
An educational institution whose major activity is the provision of formal classes of primary or secondary education, or the provision of primary or secondary distance education.
Self-employed includes people who have their own business or are partners in a business as well as freelancers. A self-employed person may or may not have employees.
The self-enumerated exercise was designed to measure skills in the areas of literacy, numeracy or problem solving in technology-rich environments. The respondents completed the exercise either on a computer or in paper booklets. The exercise consisted of a core stage, a main exercise, and some respondents completed a Reading Components booklet. There were no time limits and no assistance was allowed, See the Explanatory Notes of Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC) (cat. no. 4228.0) for further information about the self-enumerated exercise.
The three skill domains measured in PIAAC are literacy, numeracy and problem solving in technology-rich environments.
To facilitate analysis, the skill domain competency scores for literacy and numeracy have been grouped into six skill levels, and the problem solving in technology-rich environments skill domain has been grouped into four levels, with 'Below Level 1' being the lowest measured level of literacy. The levels indicate specific sets of abilities, and therefore, the thresholds for the levels are not equidistant. As a result, the ranges of scores in each level are not identical. See Scores and skill levels of Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC) (cat. no. 4228.0) for a detailed description of the skill levels for each skill domain.
Unemployed - International data item (Basic CURFs)
The definition of unemployed using the labour force concept defined for the international PIAAC survey, is people aged 15-74 years who were not employed and:
- had actively looked for full-time or part-time work at any time in the four weeks up to the end of the reference week and were available for work within 2 weeks; or
- will be starting a job within 3 months and could have started within 2 weeks had the job been available then.
Unemployed - Australian data item (Expanded CURF)
People aged 15-74 years who were not employed, were available for work in the reference week, and at any time in the four weeks up to the end of the reference week:
- had actively looked for full-time or part-time work, or
- were waiting to start a new job.
Unpaid work is any task directly contributed to the operation of a business for which the person did not receive or expected to receive, any pay, payment in kind or profit.
Responses in this category represent respondents who were sequenced past the question as the question was not appropriate to them on the basis of information previously provided (note that this category was also assigned to missing values for part or full non-responding records).
Vocational education and training (VET)
VET is a program of study that is intended to develop competency in skills relevant to the workplace or entry to further education. These courses are typically associated with preparatory, operative, trades/skilled and para-professional education and training. VET may also be referred to as "school based traineeship" and includes subjects that lead to a certificate or statement of attainment. Students in some schools can receive a VET qualification while still attending school.