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Estonia’s skills qualify it as a Nordic country

26. May 2015 - 8:56
In Copenhagen was presented a report on adult skills which was prepared in cooperation with the PIAAC Nordic network. It reveals that the results of Estonia are generally similar to those of the Nordic countries.
Estonia is considered a Nordic country in the report, in which Norway, Sweden, Finland and Denmark are also analysed, and Ministry of Education and Research analyst Vivika Halapuu considers this to be a value in itself. “We do want to be one of the Nordic countries – and now we have the opportunity to be, at least between the covers of this report, which justifies our desire,” she said.
Estonia stands out for the skills of its younger population, especially those of people with basic and secondary education

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.
However, there are still several differences between the Nordic countries, otherwise known as the picture of equality. This applies between countries as well as between various aspects within the Nordic region, wherein Estonia is not always the cause of the differences. For example, the differences in functional literacy and numeracy of those employed in information and communication and agriculture can be ‘translated’ into nearly seven years at school. While these differences can be partly justified for numeracy (since not all professions require advanced mathematical skills), the fact that the proportion of people who feel insecure using a computer varies nearly seven times in these areas of activity deserves attention – if for no other reason than good problem-solving skills in a technology-saturated environment are not only important for work, but also hold clear value for broadening and simplifying opportunities in people’s everyday lives.
The comparison of legislators, senior officials and managers with menial workers highlights somewhat greater differences, which are approx. twice as big in Norway as in Estonia. The significant gap in professional competence in Norway is caused by the very low competence level of menial workers.
The skills of Estonian entrepreneurs are competitive

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.
The problem-solving skills of Estonian workers aged 25-34 are below the Nordic average

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.
Estonia also stands out for its somewhat lower level of people aged 30-65 involved in lifelong learning. And even though a large proportion of participants in lifelong learning are connected to work and employers play a major role in supporting their involvement in training, Estonia is ranked last among the five countries under study in terms of support from employers.
In his opening address at the PIAAC Nordic conference, Anders Geertsen from the Nordic Council of Ministers welcomed Estonia among the Nordic countries and highlighted the joint database of PIAAC survey data and register data, which was created as a cooperation project between all of the Nordic countries, as a ground-breaking undertaking in the field of scientific infrastructure.
Read the report online at (in English).

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