Hot topic: Maths until age 18, part two

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The government is considering making maths compulsory until age 18. Will this help close the UK's skills gap?

Sarah Taylor, group HR director at Concept Life Sciences says:

“A move to require students to study maths until the age of 18 is one that I fully support... with one caveat, which is that the curriculum focuses on ‘financial awareness’ as opposed to maths.

With the continuing advancement of technology the use of ‘actual money’ has reduced, with contactless payment available in most retailers and an increase in online shopping. As such there is evidence that children today have less exposure to transactions that require cash and the reality of where it comes from and how to budget.

At one of my children’s’ parents evenings at primary school some 10 years ago we were urged by the teachers to encourage the children to pay for items with cash when shopping with us, so that they would understand that products are paid for with currency and not just with a swiped piece of plastic, and to learn about receiving change.

If we consider the options students will face aged 18, they will either be moving into further education, entering employment or considering setting up a business. All options will require budgeting knowledge of some sort – whether that’s managing their personal finances or developing a business case.

I see no downside to the extension of teaching maths, but make it practical.”

Ros King, head of HR at Al Rayan Bank says:

“I welcome the news that George Osborne is considering making maths compulsory up to age 18. Al Rayan Bank hires many young people, and a solid foundation in numeracy is critical in most of our roles. However, numeracy is not only a requirement for work in a bank. Across many industries numeracy skills are essential to understanding commercial and financial information, helping young people to progress quicker in their careers.

I believe this universal standard will aid social mobility and give students from disadvantaged backgrounds the skills to succeed in a competitive employment market. However, as a country I think we also need to bridge the gap in soft skills, such as communication and team working. Certainly for us as an ethical bank, soft skills are equally important. Core to our success is a strong team of employees that have the ability not only to deliver great value for money but also excellent customer service.”

Read part one of this Hot Topic

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