In a presentation at the American Embassy in Prague on 5 June 2014, Lucie Kelblova presented data from the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC) as part of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), an organisation which serves to promote economic development and cooperation between member countries. This study, called The Czech Population’s Skills in the Environment of Information Technology, compared the Czech Republic with other participating countries in the sphere of IT capabilities, revealing many promising trends.
Participants were divided into two age groups, younger (16-24) and older (55-65). Younger participants of all countries scored higher in problem solving than the older age group average. Also, there was a lesser chance that younger people had no prior experience using a computer, although the Czech Republic had one of the smallest proportions of respondents of all ages who had no prior experience with computers (2.2 percent).
Image courtesy of PIAAC.
The capabilities of the participants were divided into three categories. The third category was the most difficult and the highest level. The Czech Republic, along with Sweden, Finland, the Netherlands, and Belgium, had among the highest proportions of respondents in the younger age bracket achieving level three (11 percent). Interestingly, the study also showed that the greatest proportion of respondents aged 16-24 who only achieved level one was in England, Northern Ireland, the US, and Slovakia. The smallest proportion of youth who did not achieve level one was in South Korea (2.6 percent) and Finland (3.6 percent), while the greatest proportion was in Poland (11.4 percent) and again, the United States (10.7 percent).
Despite the increase in gender equality in the OECD countries, PIACC showed that certain gender divides still exist. Men were more mathematically capable of solving IT problems, though women tended to score higher in reading capabilities. Most notably, in all OECD countries, more men than women reached the second and third levels of IT problem solving. In the Czech Republic, this was a significant six point difference.
Finally, in terms of general computer use, the Czech Republic also ranked among the top countries. At least 65 percent of Czech respondents of all ages use a computer at least sometimes, and 87 percent of adults have a personal computer at home. The PISA study (an OECD study concerning skills and knowledge in education) also examined the use of computers by fifteen year-old students. In the Czech Republic, this was remarkably high—81 percent, a score which is surpassed only by the Netherlands at 92 percent.
These statistics not only provide much insight on the general state of IT aptitude in the Czech Republic, but they also demonstrate the positive impact and successes of several steps taken in the last 10 years to introduce information technology to the Czech education system. Czech youth already rank among the adept, and additional exposure and training will presumably prove to boost them further along this trajectory.