On National Numeracy Day, KPMG’s Dan Thomas says that there are rich rewards for companies in helping employees access resources that can boost vital skills
Research shows that 18.5 million working age adults in the UK have poor or low numeracy levels, costing individuals an estimated £460 a year and setting the UK economy back by £20.2bn every year.
It’s clear we have a skills gap that is affecting productivity and our economy, but it has not always been clear what businesses can do to help.
Today marks the second National Numeracy Day. With this campaign, National Numeracy and founding supporter KPMG aim to help thousands of workers improve their numeracy skills and give workforces the necessary numbers skills to thrive in an increasingly challenging economic climate.
There is a life-long value that greater skills and confidence with numeracy can bring, and enabling your employees to improve their numbers skills can be hugely beneficial both to business and to individuals. Last year, the first National Numeracy Day saw 100 UK organisations encourage 25,000 people to start their journey towards improved numeracy. This year, we want to make sure that thousands more get the same opportunity.
Numeracy is a skill like any other that can be learnt through effort and patience, at any time in their lives
Too many people think “I’m just not a maths person”, without realising the simple and free steps they can take to improve. Numeracy is a skill like any other that can be learnt through effort and patience, at any time in our lives.
There are four key ways that businesses can help to improve numeracy amongst their workforce:
1 Signpost employees to free resources One easy way to support employees is to signpost them to the National Numeracy Challenge. It’s a free online numeracy assessment tool that helps people understand their current numeracy level and then gives them free, tailored support for any areas they need to improve. Through using this tool people can earn a digital badge and certificate to show they have achieved the essentials of numeracy, and this can be used to support job applications for their CV, helping to enhance employability. Three quarters of people who have reassessed themselves on the National Numeracy Challenge have improved their numeracy.
2 Build numeracy into existing programmes Every business in the UK runs on numbers, and it’s fundamental that employees are numerate. By building numeracy into your learning and development or training programmes it shows how much you value numbers and provides colleagues with a life-long skill that will benefit many areas of their lives.
3 Lead from the front Employers who have the most success with improving numeracy have done it by showing there is genuine interest from the very top. Buy-in from senior management and human resources sends a strong message that this is important, which makes a huge difference. As business leaders we should all advocate the value of improved numeracy.
4 Pledge your support Businesses can still sign up to become an official supporter of National Numeracy Day and help more people benefit from knowing how to use numbers well.
As a founding supporter, KPMG will be supporting in a number of ways, including promoting the benefits of improved numeracy internally to our staff and encouraging them to engage their friends and families with National Numeracy Day by sharing content on social media.
KPMG is a business built on numbers, and we want as many people as possible to enjoy the benefits of improved everyday maths. As part of this, our employees will share their professional expertise by volunteering in local schools to help young people get a better grasp of numbers, as well as encouraging all businesses to build numeracy skills into employee learning and development programmes.
Numeracy, literacy and life-long learning are the building blocks for social mobility and the success of our future economy
We will also call on our suppliers to get their employees to check they have the essentials of numeracy by using the online assessment tool, and we’ll raise awareness of the importance of numeracy to businesses and individuals through our networks.
KPMG has a long history of helping tackle disadvantage in the UK through the development of essential skills. We know that numeracy, literacy and life-long learning are the building blocks for social mobility and the success of our future economy, and our community efforts over the past 20 years have been centred around these key areas.
The benefits of improved numeracy are huge – ensuring employees have the skills to use numbers well is a win-win for everyone.
Dan Thomas is head of corporates at KPMG.