Only 5 per cent of businesses provide both numeracy training and support for employees, despite 94 per cent of senior decision-makers saying how important these skills are to their business, new research by leading vocational London university GSM London has revealed.
The YouGov research polled 2,000 UK adults and 1,000 senior business decision-makers to find out the strength of the UK’s maths skills and how this could potentially affect performance in the workplace.
Overall, 15 per cent of businesses polled said they feel their company lacks people with appropriate numeracy skills, rising to more than one in four businesses in the manufacturing industry.
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Janki Amin, Employer Relations & Partnerships Manager at GSM London, said: “The lack of support and training for UK workers with their numeracy skills came as a surprise to us as senior decision-makers see it as important for their businesses.
“Learning and training shouldn’t end once a person has finished school or higher education, and there is always opportunities to develop your skills throughout your career. Focusing on more training and support would not only benefit a business from a HR perspective but also makes business sense to develop your workforce.”
The top five sectors where senior decision-makers felt their businesses employees were lacking in maths skills:
1. Manufacturing (26 per cent)
2. Hospitality and Leisure (22 per cent)
3. Retail (20 per cent)
4. Construction (18 per cent)
5. Finance and Accounting (14 per cent)
Despite this clear skills gap, few companies offer training and support for employees to improve their numeracy skills. Senior decision-makers in the Hospitality and Leisure sector said their companies offer no numeracy training or support for their employees.
The research also shows that 81 per cent of adults have not tried to improve their numeracy skills since leaving full-time education and when it comes to hiring, 75 per cent of senior business decision-makers claim they would choose one candidate over another if they had better numeracy skills.
Over half (57 per cent) admitted that they would be unlikely to hire a candidate who did not have a grade C or above in GCSE Maths.This may be a contributing factor to the discovery that over one in ten (12 per cent) 18 to 24-year-olds admitted to exaggerating their maths skills when applying for a job.
Data from Pro Bono Economics estimates poor numeracy skills is costing the UK economy £20.2 billion every year. The UK needs a numerate population in order to build a strong economy and compete globally – especially with those countries which outstrip us in numeracy performance.
Mike Ellicock, Chief Executive at National Numeracy, said: “Good numeracy is essential in every job and virtually every aspect of daily life, and the fact is that everyone can improve their everyday maths skills – with effort and support. No-one should write themselves off – or write themselves out of a job – because of a lack of confidence with numbers.”