Poor maths skills hurting British economy says National Numeracy

By: Information Daily Staff Writer
Published: Monday, March 5, 2012 - 09:21 GMT Jump to Comments

Poor maths skills are blighting individual's chances in the workplace, and in turn affecting UK plc, warns The National Numeracy charity. It has found that 17 million people - more than half of the adults in the UK - have a poor understanding of maths.

Figures show that the number of innumerate adults in England have increased by two million in eight years, with most adults having numeracy skills equivalent to that of an 11 year old.

Chris Humphries, chairman of National Numeracy, termed this a “scary figure” because it shows that adults are unable to comprehend basics such as understanding deductions on their payslip, calculating change, interpreting graphs, charts and metres, and understanding timetables and tax; all things that are necessary for their jobs.

He added, "It does matter. Poor numeracy seriously blights an individual's life chances”. He believes it is inexcusable for anyone to say “I can't do maths”.

This could lead to higher levels of unemployment among adults, while students could face the prospect of being excluded from schools.

UK employers are responding by training their workforce in basic remedial maths, such as mental arithmetic, so as to be able to work out percentage changes, discounts and fractions to ensure errors in accounts or even fraud does not go undetected.

The charity found that most people did not even seem concerned about their numerical inabilities but hopes to encourage people of all age groups to improve their poor levels of numeracy.

Chief executive Mike Ellicock of National Numeracy called this problem “perennial” and said that people tend to focus more on enhancing literacy skills rather than numerical ones as the former are much easier to do. There was a need to change the attitude of people towards maths with some treating their poor mathematical abilities as a “badge of honour”.

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