Putting numeracy on the agenda at BIS and DfE Select Committee seminar 

The chair of the Education Committee Iain Wright MP and chair of the Business, Innovation and Skills Committee Neil Carmichael MP have confirmed that they will be working together "to propose constructive solutions to ensure our education and skills systems deliver for business and boost the nation's productivity”. 

National Numeracy are wholly supportive of this effort to work collaboratively and this week attended the Education and Skills Select Committee seminar to raise the importance of addressing the numeracy skills shortage, which is vital to increasing productivity in the UK and is estimated to be costing the economy £20 billion each year

Apprenticeships and further education reform dominated the discussion. National Numeracy's CEO Mike Ellicock pointed out that literacy levels have been on the rise, yet numeracy levels have been falling, exemplified in young people, with only 24% of 16-24 year olds who achieved grade A*-C in GCSE Maths demonstrating the equivalent numeracy level in the most recent Skills for Life survey. Mike went on to ask why numeracy is often "tacked on" when the importance of numeracy in it’s own right to improve productivity and an individual's life chances should be highlighted.

Baroness Alison Wolf agreed there is a problem with numeracy in the UK, as well as with higher level maths. Tim Oates, Group Director of Assessment Research and Development at Cambridge Assessment, recognised the potential for mastery approaches within the school system, which National Numeracy support, and recognised the need for a different approach to raise adult numeracy, suggesting sensitive online resources might help. 

"Our education system has a major part to play in preparing young people with the skills and knowledge to enter into the world of work," explained Iain Wright MP and Michael Carmichael MP on Huffington Post. "The existence of skill shortages in certain sectors underlines the need to develop the UK's labour market to ensure we have workers with the range and variety of skills necessary for our businesses to compete in a global market. Otherwise businesses will have to look abroad for the skills they need." Both the National Numeracy Challenge and Numeracy Review aim to address the adult skills shortages sensitively with both individuals and employers.


Read more about the proposals for the select committee

Read the Government's plans for technical and professional education