National Research Bureau.  A Research House in New Zealand specialising in social survey research

Information For Participants

New Zealand is participating in the International Survey of Adult Skills (ISAS), the most comprehensive international survey of adult skills ever undertaken. National Research Bureau Ltd is conducting the survey on behalf of the Ministry of Education in collaboration with the OECD.

If you have been selected to participate, you may have been given one or more brochures explaining how important it is for you to participate, and what this involves. This information is also shown here for your convenience.

What is the International Survey of Adult Skills?

This is a survey to find out what education, work experience, and training the New Zealand public has, in a variety of areas. In effect, it is a stocktake of the skills of our country.

The survey is being conducted in over 30 countries in the same way, so the results can be compared. In some countries the survey is known as PIAAC (Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies.)

What is the purpose of the survey?

This survey will provide valuable information to educators, policymakers and educational researchers on the current skills and experiences of New Zealand adults. This information will be used to guide educational and training programmes to improve the skills this country needs in order to participate more successfully in the global economy.

Ultimately the point of the survey is to help New Zealand prosper, to improve our skills, and keep jobs in the country!

How was I chosen?

Since interviewing every adult in New Zealand would be very expensive and difficult, we use scientific statistical methods to randomly select individual adults to represent others like them. Homes are selected systematically and people within those homes. A selected person cannot be replaced by another, even if they prefer to do the survey. It is always the selected person that we have to interview.

What do I have to do?

An ISAS (NRB) field representative will arrange a time to come to your home to conduct the interview.

The first part is a questionnaire that asks about your education, work experiences, use of technology and other information.

The remaining time is spent completing computer based or written activities that you may do in everyday life. These might include: following instructions on a prescription label; reading a flight schedule at the airport; using a map to give directions to someone; seeing how much sense you can make out of food nutrition labels. Most find these exercises interesting and fun!

The total interview takes about two hour hours to complete.

Why should I do this?

Your participation is vital because you represent thousands of other adults throughout the country. We hope you will agree to help because, in the end, it is for the benefit of New Zealand. However, if you complete the survey, there is also a gift of $50 to thank you for your efforts!

I haven't been in school in years, and I don't work - will I be able to help?

Yes, you can! It is very important that all adults in New Zealand be represented in this study. We need information from:

  • People of all ages;
  • Persons currently in the workforce and those who are retired or work at home;
  • Persons currently in school and those who attended school many years ago; and
  • Persons who went to school for only a few years and those who have gone to school for many years.

Can I have an interviewer of my own gender or culture?

Yes, we will endeavour to do this if you ask. Please let the interviewer know if you would like your interview to be done by someone of the same gender, or perhaps culture. If you prefer, phone the survey toll-free number 0800 672 476 and leave your request with that person. Remember to leave a contact phone number or address.

How do I know my answers will be kept confidential?

We are required by law not to reveal your answers to anyone other than persons directly involved in this study. Everyone working on the study has signed a confidentiality agreement pledging to keep all information provided by respondents confidential.

Furthermore, no information that would permit the identification of an individual will be released or published. As soon as the survey is completed, all information that links data to respondents is removed.

How will I recognise the field representative?

The NRB Interviewer (field representative) who contacts you will be carrying an ISAS photo identification badge authorised by the Ministry of Education.

Any other questions?

The interviewer who visits your home will be able to answer questions you may have about this study.

The Ministry of Education has a website with further information on ISAS at

You may also call the International Survey of Adult Skills toll-free number 0800 672 476 or email



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