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Pacific adults’ literacy, numeracy and problem solving skills

The Survey of Adult Skills measured the skills of New Zealand adults in literacy, numeracy and problem solving in technology-rich environments. It is part of the OECD’s Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC). The findings in this report relate to Pacific people aged 16 to 65 in 2014. It covers how the literacy, numeracy and problem solving skills (measured in English) of Pacific adults relate to their education and work. It also looks at how these skills compare to those of non-Pacific people and how they have changed over time., Key findings include: (1) The first language learned at home for about half of New Zealand’s Pacific 16 to 65 year olds was a Pacific language; (2) For over a third the first language was English and for about one in ten Pacific people it was both a Pacific language and English; (3) In 2014, half of the 16 to 65 year old Pacific population was born in New Zealand; (4) From 1996 to 2014, the proportion of Pacific people with low literacy skills has decreased; (5) Since 2006, the average numeracy score for Pacific people has shown a slight increase from 218 to 224 scale score points; (6) Twenty-two percent of Pacific and 46 per cent of non-Pacific had at least moderate problem solving skills; (7) Pacific people were much less likely to be able and willing to use a computer to do the assessment. One in five Pacific 16 to 65 year olds either had no computer experience, did not pass a simple computer use assessment, or declined to use a computer. This compares with one in ten non-Pacific 16 to 65 year olds; (8) Pacific people born in New Zealand have much stronger skills on average, as measured in English, compared with those born overseas – this applies to all three skill domains (literacy, numeracy and problem solving); (9) On average, higher qualifications are associated with stronger skills for both Pacific and non-Pacific people – with the proviso that post-school qualifications below degree level are associated with a similar literacy skill to upper secondary qualifications; (10) Pacific people have lower average literacy scores at every qualification level; and (11) For both Pacific and non-Pacific people, being employed is associated with stronger literacy skills compared to being unemployed.