Liverpool city region is to become the largest area of the country to sign up to a drive to improve numeracy among adults.
The National Numeracy Challenge is a UK-wide initiative to improve the numeracy skills and confidence of 1 million adults over the next 5 years, working with everyone, from workplaces and adult education facilities to voluntary and community organisations.
Government figures estimate that around 155,000 working-age adults in Liverpool (just over half) have numeracy skills roughly equivalent to the level expected of children at primary school, meaning they may not be able to work out a household budget or check the pay and deductions on a wage slip.
Liverpool City Council, Merseytravel and north west TUC/unionlearn have teamed up with National Numeracy to launch the initiative at an event on Monday 9 March where other public and private sector employers will be encouraged to get involved.
Councillor Nick Small, Liverpool's Cabinet Member for Employment & Skills said: "This is a really exciting project and I'm pleased to be part of launching it in Liverpool.
“We're the first big city to be doing this. Numeracy is so important in everyday situations, like understanding your payslips and bills as well as getting the best shopping deals. But it's much, much more important than that because increasingly numeracy is becoming part of more and more jobs. This initiative is about making numeracy accessible for everyone and making it easy and fun to improve your maths skills in a way that works for you."
Research shows that:
- Adults who struggle with numeracy are twice as likely to be unemployed
- Numeracy is a bigger indicator of disadvantage than literacy
- The gap between the number of people with good levels of literacy and numeracy is growing - up from 18% to 35% between 2003 and 2011
Mike Ellicock, Chief Executive of the National Numeracy Challenge, said: "Being numerate means being able to use numbers and think mathematically, which is essential for so many aspects of everyday life and work. To anyone tempted to say 'I can’t do maths', we say 'Yes, you can'. We are delighted that Liverpool are launching the National Numeracy Challenge city wide and we can’t wait to see individuals, employers and other organisations getting involved."
Merseytravel signed up as a partner in March 2014, and have encouraged staff across the organisation to take the Challenge Online, an easy to use website designed to confidentially assess and improve everyday maths skills and confidence.
Cllr Liam Robinson, Chair of Merseytravel, said: "Merseytravel recognise the benefits that good numeracy skills can bring both in terms of building staff confidence and increasing our efficiency. As an organisation we are committed to supporting learning for our staff and staff in the wider transport sector."
Other partners include Merseyrail, Liverpool Adult Education Service and the City-Region Employment and Skills Board have also agreed to sign up as challenge partners. They will use the Challenge Online to highlight the importance of maths skills in the context of their organisations’ priorities for growth and development.
Lynn Collins, Secretary of TUC North West, said: “I am delighted to be signing the TUC up to the National Numeracy Challenge in Merseyside City region. The TUC and unionlearn have long championed skills and learning opportunities to be made available for everyone in every workplace , and in the wider community. The TUC is signing up to the Numeracy Challenge as well as supporting all trade unions and other employers to do so.
"Union Learning Reps have long-promoted learning to employees across many work sectors, and they will make great Maths Champions in the City-region. Maths skills are vital across the economy and we fully support this initiative.”