Companies are desperate to find employees with decent maths skills, but many believe that younger workers are not up to the job. Not for profit organisation the CfBT Education Trust said there is a “chasm” between employers’ practical maths needs and workers’ maths skills.
It commissioned a poll, which found more than a third (34%) of people questioned admitted to paying household bills that they do not understand.
Many also spoke of being embarrassed at their lack of maths skills in the workplace, with younger people far more likely to report this than older age groups. While a quarter (24%) of 18 to 34-years-olds said this, just one in 15 (7%) over 55s did so.
While four out of five (80%) business leaders said they need employees with practical maths skills in the workplace, three fifths (62%) said young Britons are disadvantaged in the global jobs race due to their lack of these skills.
Nearly two-thirds (63%) of businesses also said they think studying maths should be compulsory post-GCSE.
It said the new core maths qualification announced by the Government last year will teach precisely the kind of practical, problem-solving approach to maths that will help post-GCSE students acquire the maths skills they need for work, study and life.
It has been piloted in 150 schools and colleges over the past year and will be available to every school and college in England that wants to teach it from this September.
Mick Blaylock, head of the Core Maths Support Programme, said: “The message is clear. We need more young people to stick with maths and to make that happen we need to make maths more interesting and relevant to them. Core maths is the option that delivers the practical maths skills for work, study and life.
“Employers put a premium on the maths skills of their workforce, whether they are trying to tap the potential of big data, part of the growing digital economy or getting a start-up company off the ground.”
Dr Deirdre Hughes, chairwoman of the Promotions Senior Advisory Board for the DfE/CfBT Core Maths Support Programme, said: “Many young people are astonished to find that they need practical maths skills in some of the most popular, creative jobs. Artists, forensics experts, fashion and interior designers – all of these and more require a firm grasp of practical maths.
“We need to ensure that those who think that maths is irrelevant to them – especially the disproportionate number of girls who drop this subject early – have a maths option that is fun and relevant to their future. Core maths makes that offer.”