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East Midlands Chamber News

Maths chasm between firms’ needs and workers’ skills

New independent polling by YouGov has revealed that UK employers are crying out for staff with practical maths skills and those who have them have a competitive edge in work, study and life.

Today’s research – commissioned by the Core Maths Support Programme (CMSP) run by CfBT Education Trust, a leading international non-profit provider of education services – also shows employers’ concern that young British people have fallen behind competitors in other countries due to their poor level of maths.

In England over 60% of 16-year-old students with a GCSE pass grade then drop the subject whereas in most other major industrialised countries over 80% of students continue with their mathematics education to 18.

And UK employees report a contrasting over-confidence in their staff's maths abilities at work. Just 15% report having ever felt embarrassed in the workplace due to their lack of maths skills.

By contrast, when it comes to their private lives, people are more willing to acknowledge their weakness - 34 % admit to having paid bills that they don’t fully understand. This is the equivalent of £10.8bn that families are spending on household energy bills each year without being able to tell whether they are paying the right amount.

The new Core Maths qualification is intended to bridge the gap between employers’ need for practical maths skills and employees’ overconfidence in their mathematical ability.

It will provide students with the practical maths skills they need for work, study and life.

Employers and universities have helped design of the qualifications following the guidance given by the Department for Education.

Core Maths is designed to make the study of mathematics even more relevant to students by teaching the practical, problem-solving skills that people need to get ahead in work, study and life.

Core Maths is a level 3, qualification that is recognised by universities as equivalent to half an A-level. It has been piloted in 150 schools and colleges over the past year where approximately 3,000 students are being prepared to sit the first examinations in 2016.

From this September it will be available to every school and college in England that wants to teach it. For students Core Maths now provides an option which is suitable for all those with a good pass at GCSE.

Dr Deirdre Hughes, Chair of the Promotions Senior Advisory Board for the DfE/CfBT Core Maths Support Programme, said: “Many young people are astonished to find that they need practical maths skills in some of the most popular, creative jobs. Artists, forensics experts, fashion and interior designers – all of these and more require a firm grasp of practical maths.

"We need to ensure that those who think that maths is irrelevant to them – especially the disproportionate number of girls who drop this subject early – have a maths option that is fun and relevant to their future. Core Maths makes that offer.”