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Americans must learn to adapt

| September 1, 2015 | 0 Comments

US students may be super-fast at texting, finds a new study, but they’re not able to apply their tech skills to solving real-life problems nearly as well as their counterparts in other countries.

Using data gathered in 2012 for the ‘Literacy, Numeracy, and Problem Solving in Technology-rich Environments among US Adults: Results from the Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC)’ report, a Washington-based organisation called Change the Equation (CtE) analysed the life skills of a sample of Americans born after the arrival of the internet.

“Yes, [American millennials] can take selfies,” says Linda Rosen, CEO of CtE, but 58% of them appear “less able to use digital tools and networks to solve relatively simple problems that involve skills like sorting, searching for and emailing information from a spreadsheet”. A further 19% of survey respondents were not able to use technology to categorise: for example, creating folders in which to store e-mails.

Those most adept at adapting skills will bring in the big bucks once employed. The study showed that the US was ranked 19th out of 23 countries when it comes to adapting new tech skills. Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Slovak Republic, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom also participated.

CtE has collated useful tips for schools in the report ‘Does Not Compute: The High Cost of Low Technology Skills in the US – and What We Can Do about It’ (see:

Category: Spring 2015

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