Changes in employment since the 1990s
Numeracy practices at work in IALS and PIAAC
Observing the transition from industrial work to more and more digitalised work in the last decades, in this paper we discuss changes in employment and the relevance of numeracy in adult basic education and in working environments. In a knowledge society, the demand for highly qualified professionals is growing. It is questionable what effects this need will have on other occupational groups. Is there a higher risk of becoming more vulnerable as a result of a so-called ‘polarisation of the labour market’? Dealing with change in employment structures for industrialised countries, the authors examine the change in numeracy practices in the International Adult Literacy Survey compared with that in the Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies. In a comparison of the two large-scale assessments, the authors are able to confirm a polarisation in the sense of more higher- and lower-qualified jobs and less medium-qualified jobs. Numeracy practices, however, have been decreasing across all occupational groups over the last 3 decades. Today there is a higher risk of becoming vulnerable if the occupations are part of a middle qualified job. More critical numeracy skills and a visibility of numeracy at work could reduce the risk of vulnerability.