Business can profit from better maths

Author // Liz Kirman Categories // HR and Training

Research estimates that poor maths skills cost the economy £20.2 billion a year. Good maths skills we are told, is one of the best protections against unemployment, low wages and poor health. How do we go about improving maths at work?

A Fear of maths can start early and can be difficult to overcome. I remember my Mum telling me that she hated maths and it was too hard! This influence, although never ill meaning did have an impact on how I perceived and approached maths.

But is maths hard? Surely it is the most logical of all subjects and it is everywhere, in the supermarket when you are working out offers and buying food, in your home when seeing if a sofa will fit through the door, booking a holiday and working out currency exchange rates, helping your children with their homework. And it is at work, percentages, calculating prices, working out orders.

Statistics will tell you that low maths skills equal low pay or no pay. Experts will also show you a correlation between poor numeracy and depression and other health conditions. There is also a link to school exclusion, truancy and crime. In fact, 25% of young people in custody have numeracy below that expected of a seven year old and 65% below that of an 11 year old.

As the economy develops and more jobs will require the use of digital technology, where does this leave people with lower maths skills? How will employers find staff who can work with new technology? If we want the UK economy to stay strong and compete in these new emerging global markets, it is imperative to improve our numeracy levels.

The government has recently launched an initiative - Skills Support for the Workforce - that among other things looks to support employees to improve their maths and therefore their career opportunities, wages and health.

Maths is so important in the work place, and having staff that can calculate correctly and not make errors will help to improve your profits and keep your customers happy.  You can also look to recruit from within and reduce recruitment costs.

Looking to the future, if as a nation we want to benefit from emerging technology, employers must have staff with the necessary maths skills. Now is the time to start raising skills and maths levels in the workplace. In Essex, we are offering a maths programme Count on Us for all businesses. Find out what support is in your area through your Local Enterprise Partnership.

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