The first results of the OECD's Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC), ranked Norwegian adults well above average in the 24 countries surveyed, but still behind its neighbour to the east.
Norway ranked fourth for computer skills (after Sweden in first), fifth for numeracy (after Sweden in third), and sixth for literacy (after Sweden in fourth).
"Governments need a clear picture not only of how labour markets and economies are changing, but of the extent to which their
citizens are equipping themselves with the skills demanded in the 21st century," Angel Gurría, the OECD's Secretary-General, wrote, explaining the need for the study, which supplements PISA, the OECD's ranking of pupils' achievement.
Japan led the field in both literacy and numeracy, while Sweden came top for computer skills.
Italy had the worst performance, coming bottom of the list for computer skills (followed by Spain and France) and also literacy (followed by Spain and Cyprus). Spain came last for numeracy, followed by Italy and the United States.