Research in the social sciences has focused extensively on the relationship between family background, educational attainment and social destination, on the one hand, and on the processes of skills creation and skills use, on the other. This paper brings these two branches of the literature together by examining the correlation between a range of social factors. The methodology we adopt provides a comprehensive approach to the study of the channels through which literacy skills are acquired, taking into account the interrelation of family background, educational attainment, and the use of skills at work and at home. We use the Programme of International Assessment of Adult Competences (PIAAC) dataset and apply a structural equation model (SEM). Our results show that family background and education play an important role in the configuration of adult skills and skill practices. Unequal family access to resources has a strong impact at later stages in life and strongly affects educational attainment and skills outcomes. Additionally, skills use has a positive and direct impact on adult skills.