Twenty-first century skills for all: Adults and problem solving in technology rich environments

Tatiana Iñiguez-berrozpe, Ellen Boeren

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The current Information Society requires new skills for personal, labor and social inclusion. Among the so-called Twenty-First Century Skills (Care et al. (eds) in Assessment and teaching of 21st century skills, Springer, New York, 2018) is Problem Solving in Technology Rich Environments (PS-TRE) competence evaluated in PISA and PIAAC tests (OECD in Survey of adult skills (PIAAC). Retrieved from (2016)). This skill, although currently receiving considerable attention in compulsory education, has not received the same level of thought in the case of adult education. In this article, the presence of the PS-TRE skill among adults of working age (25–65 years) in Europe is analysed in relation to the factors that potentially affect a higher score in this skill. This analysis is carried out using structural equations modelling, taking into account socio-personal and educational factors, as well as the use of different skills in work and daily life. The results indicate that educational level and the use of different skills (reading, numerical, related to ICT) at home and at work, as well as participation in non-formal education activities, decisively relate to a higher level of PS-TRE. This result is positively mediated through risk factors such as being older or being a woman. This study concludes that it is necessary to reinforce these skills, not only in children, but also in the adult population, in order to avoid social and labour exclusion.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-23
Number of pages23
JournalTechnology, Knowledge and Learning
Early online date27 Mar 2019
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 27 Mar 2019


  • problem solving
  • adult education
  • technology
  • twenty-first century skills
  • inclusive education


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