Today Roger Francis, HR and services director at MindLeaders, responds to the launch of a new charity to tackle the numeracy skills crisis in the UK.
A new charity has been launched today to tackle the numeracy crisis in the UK and champion improved Maths skills. The group, National Numeracy, seeks to support the millions of people who do not, according to the Government’s own figures, have sufficient skills to read bus or train timetables or understand their pay slips. Almost half the working population fall into this category, having only primary school maths skills.
I have highlighted this crisis (and it is a crisis, not a problem) in previous posts and I am therefore delighted that it will now receive the focus and support which it deserves. National Numeracy point to figures which show a very clear link between poor numeracy skills and poor life outcomes such as prison, poverty and unemployment. Tackling this problem is not only essential if we are to ensure that the UK workforce has the skills which are necessary to enable us to compete effectively in the global market, but also to prevent the creation of a blighted pool of unemployable people whose life prospects are severely limited.
So what needs to happen? I believe that the creation of National Numeracy is a major first step. Twenty years ago the National Literacy Trust was established, and whilst literacy levels are still a cause for concern, there have been significant improvements during that time, so focusing on an issue in this way has clear benefits.
Secondly, we need to change the attitude towards maths. A YouGov survey carried out on behalf of National Numeracy, found that many people felt it was acceptable to say they were no good at maths. In fact it had almost become a badge of honour. We have to change that culture and promote the benefits of improved numeracy skills
Finally we have to recognise that numeracy is a “life skill”. It’s not simply about being able to add up or understand fractions, it’s about having the confidence and ability to transfer those skills and use them to improve the quality of everyday lives.
With this in mind, the launch yesterday of the new MindLeaders Functional Skills solution for Maths and English could not have been more timely. Functional Skills are designed to address those very issues of confidence and knowledge transfer and as such, we believe they will play a significant role in the development of improved skills. The MindLeaders vision is to “Change Lives Through Learning” and Functional Skills is designed to do just that. We are delighted and very proud to be playing a part in helping to address this crisis.
So National Numeracy deserves the unqualified support of everyone working in the field of adult numeracy. Let’s hope that within the next decade, we can see real progress in this hugely important area.