sKILLS (Incompetence Kills)

The knowledge, skills and experiences that employees have or may have for working life are very important.

Employees can be as successful as the knowledge, skills, and experience they have or may have.

Companies can be as successful as the knowledge, skills, and experience their employees have or may have.

Countries can be as successful as the knowledge, skills and experience the workforce in the country has or may have.

The top priority for employees, companies and countries is information. Experience follows. On the other hand, it can be said that skills are the most overlooked factor.

Similar to the PISA study, which examines the basic skills of 15-year-old students, OECD conducts the PIAAC study with 216,250 adults from 33 countries, including Turkey, for the expected skills of adults aged 16-65. Within the scope of PIAAC, problem solving skills of adults aged 16-65 in verbal, numerical and technology-intensive environments are examined.

  • Verbal Skills (Literacy): These skills are; understanding, evaluating and using written texts. Reading digital texts is within this scope. However, speaking and writing skills are not included.
  • Numeracy : The individual with these skills uses mathematical content, information and ideas appropriately in order to be able to solve business and daily life problems and to manage situations related to problems.
  • Problem solving in technology-rich environments: These skills are; using digital technology, communication tools and networks. It focuses on problem-solving skills that require accessing and using information through computers and computer networks. Therefore, it is the intersection set of computer literacy and cognitive skills.

Although its results were as dangerous and thought-provoking as PISA, Turkey’s PIAAC results (5,277 adults) were not as talked about as PISA.

Turkey’s PIAAC results are at least as bad as PISA. In other words, the working group of adults aged 16-65, the skills required to do their jobs are well below the OECD average and are in the last 3 rank among the 33 countries participating in this study.

When Turkey’s PIAAC results are examined;

  • Majority of adults lack the skills required for the age : Adults’ verbal, numerical and technology-intensive problem-solving skills scores well below the OECD. In fact, most of the adults in Turkey have the lowest level of problem solving skills in technology-intensive environments, 35.6% of the adults have never met a computer before, 2.4% have not completed the basic computer skills test and 17.7% It has not been tested in a computer environment.
  • Education levels are not effective in acquiring skills : University graduates, high school graduates and those with less than high school education have scores of problem solving skills in verbal, numerical and technology-intensive environments, well below the OECD.
  • Adults fail to acquire skills after compulsory education : Across the OECD, adults’ verbal and numeracy proficiency increases up to the age group 25-34 and declines thereafter. In Turkey, the verbal and numerical skills of adults increase up to the age group of 16-24 and then decrease.
  • Adults are unable to use their skills in the workplace and in their daily lives: Adults showed a lower propensity to read, write, use mathematics, problem solve and use the computer in the workplace and in their daily lives compared to OECD countries. In addition, the report draws attention to the fact that the more effective use of these skills leads to higher job satisfaction, the close relationship between job quality and skill use, and the indirect effect of life satisfaction and being healthier.
  • Higher education and skills do not affect employment : In most OECD countries, adults with higher levels of skills in the report are less likely to be unemployed than those with lower skills. However, being at a higher skill level and having a higher education level do not affect employability in Turkey. According to TUIK’s “Labor force status by education level (2004-2017)”, the employment status of “illiterate” and “under-high school” graduates shows an increasing trend, while the employment status of “vocational and technical high school” and “higher education” graduates tends to decrease. shows. These data reinforce PIAAC’s finding that “higher education and skill level do not affect employment status”. However, the reflection of education level and skill level on salary in Turkey is 20%, the highest rate in the OECD. On the other hand, the wages paid to those with the same proficiency level in Turkey show great variation. This finding suggests that employee earnings, regardless of skills, are affected by variables such as experience and other individual factors. In addition, according to the report, there is a strong relationship between the use of verbal skills in the workplace and the productivity per hour worked.

Developing the skills of the workforce in Turkey is imperative. For this, studies should be done from pre-school.


  • OECD Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC), Skills Matter: Further Results from the Survey of Adult Skills, 28.06.2016
  • TEDMEM. (2016). OECD Adult Skills Survey: Results for Turkey. Ankara: Turkish Education Association Publications