The research revealed that Estonia fits in among the Nordic countries in many ways in terms of information-processing skills. We do not significantly differ from the other countries in terms of functional literacy or the proportion of people with very low competence. Our average numeracy result is only a little lower than that of the others countries. The distribution of skills by the most distinguishable background indicators (education level, age and immigrant status) is also relatively similar to that in the Nordic countries. Estonia stands out for the skills of its younger population, especially those of people with basic and secondary education. Discrepancies between immigrants and the native population are also small in Estonia, in connection with which it should be mentioned that here the questionnaire could also be completed in Russian. Finland has the best academic higher education among the Nordic countries, while Sweden has the best applied higher education. There are no major differences in the competence of respondents with vocational education. The inequality of skills caused by gender and education of parents is among the lowest in Estonia.
One positive aspect of the report is that unlike old Nordic countries where the skills of entrepreneurs are at the same or a lower level as those of wage workers, the opposite applies in Estonia: the competence of entrepreneurs is somewhat better. This is partly explained by the fact that according to data from the PIAAC survey, Estonia has a somewhat higher number of younger entrepreneurs – and age is strongly connected to information-processing skills. Another positive aspect was that the competence of entrepreneurs has a more similar distribution in Nordic countries than that of wage workers – or in other words our entrepreneurs are more similar to Nordic entrepreneurs than our wage workers are to Nordic wage workers. This difference was particularly clear in the processing industry. However, as expected, Finland can be seen as a role model for other countries in many fields.
At the same time, there are aspects which leave us feeling uncomfortable in such august company. Our main shortcoming is problem-solving skills in a technology-centred environment. Analyses made in comparison with the Nordic countries highlight particularly acutely that Estonian residents are lagging behind in these skills. The average problem-solving skills of Estonian workers aged 25-34 are at the same level as people in other Nordic countries who are 10 years older. The same can be seen when comparing, for example, Estonian workers aged 35-44 to those aged 45-54 in other countries. Our workers also include nearly five times more people who have no experience in using a computer.