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The Adult Literacy and Life Skills (ALL) Survey: Age and Literacy

Publication Details

This report is the fourth in a series of four that investigate the initial results of the ALL survey. It presents an overview of New Zealanders’ skills in relation to age, and any changes since 1996.

Author(s): Paul Satherley and Elliot Lawes, Research Division, Ministry of Education.

Date Published: August 2008


Please consider the environment before printing the contents of this report. This report is available as a download (please refer to the 'Downloads/Links' inset box, top right).
Please consider the environment before printing the contents of this report.

Age and Up-Skilling

Here, ‘up-skilling’ refers to adult education in a broad sense: any further education and training activities undertaken to increase one’s skills. This section examines these questions:

  • How is age associated with participation in up-skilling?
  • How is age, in combination with literacy skill, associated with participation in up-skilling?

Age and up-skilling

In this section the following definitions are used.

  • Formal up-skilling refers to full-time or part-time participation in any course that is part of a programme of study leading towards a certificate, degree or diploma (for example, participation in a plumbing apprenticeship).
  • Non-formal up-skilling refers to participation in any course that is not part of a programme of study leading towards a certificate, degree or diploma (for example, participation in a photography course at night-school).
  • Self-directed or none refers to either participation in up-skilling activities such as guided tours, trade fairs or learning from instructional media, or no participation in any up-skilling activities.


Where respondents reported both formal up-skilling and non-formal or self-directed up-skilling, they were recorded as undertaking up-skilling formally. Similarly, where respondents reported both non-formal up-skilling and self-directed up-skilling, they were reported as undertaking up-skilling non-formally.

As might be expected, young people aged 16−24 years participated in formal education at a much higher rate than older people.  Over 25-year-olds participated in informal education at higher rates than younger people.

Figure 16 shows the percentages of various age groups who self-reported as participating in various types of up-skilling.


Figure 16: Up-skilling and age, ALL only
pubID-29946-fig16
Note:

  1. Percentages are rounded to the nearest whole number.

Figure 16 shows the following:

  • Participation in formal up-skilling was greater for younger age-groups. It decreased from around 56% for 16−24-year-olds to around 12% for 55−65-year-olds.
  • Participation in non-formal up-skilling was greater for older age groups, increasing from around 8% for 16−24-year-olds to 33% for 45−54-year-olds, but decreasing somewhat (to 24%) for 55−65-year-olds.
  • Participation in self-directed or no up-skilling was greater for older age groups. Around 36% of 16−24-year-olds up-skilled in a self-directed manner or not at all. This compares with around half of 35−54-year-olds and 64% of 55−65-year-olds.

Document literacy, age and up-skilling

Document literacy is a key work-related skill. There are differences in patterns of participation in up-skilling for the whole New Zealand adult population between those with low document literacy skill and those with higher document literacy skill (see The Adult Literacy and Life Skills (ALL) Survey: Overview and International Comparisons).

Young people aged 16−24 years with higher document literacy skill participated in formal education and training activities at a much higher rate than those with low document literacy skill.

Figure 17: Up-skilling, document literacy and age, ALL onlypubID-29946-fig17pubID-29946-fig18


Figure 17 shows the following.

  • For 16−24-year-olds, and to a lesser extent 25−34-year-olds, participation in formal up-skilling was greater for those with higher document literacy. For all other age groups the percentage of the age group participating in formal up-skilling was similar for those with low and those with higher document literacy skill.
  • The percentage of 16−24-year-olds participating in non-formal up-skilling was similar for those with low and those with higher document literacy skill. For all other age groups, participation in non-formal up-skilling was greater for those with higher document literacy.
  • For all age groups, participation in self-directed or no up-skilling was substantially less for those with higher document literacy.

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