KPMG supports National Numeracy Week

KPMG supports National Numeracy Week

Melanie Richards, deputy chair of KPMG, outlines why National Numeracy Week is so important - and how you can help

KPMG supports National Numeracy Week

Everyone reading this has at least one thing in common – we all use numbers. For those in the accountancy profession, this skill underpins working life even more than most. And of course, beyond our working lives, everyone uses our numeracy skills every day. From budgeting to journey planning, simple mental arithmetic is needed to help make decisions and select the best options. Accountants clearly have the basic numeracy skills needed for everyday life, but sadly, millions of people in the UK still do not.

In the UK, at least 18.5m working age adults have ‘poor or low’ numeracy levels and this is having a significant negative impact on them, their families and society at large.  This doesn’t just have a bearing on their choice of career, it is a barrier to social mobility and makes everyday decisions more difficult. Without these skills personal finances can suffer, which impacts people and their families. For example, we know that many parents struggle to support their children with their schoolwork, creating a worrying cycle of deprivation.

This presents difficulties for individual families and communities and also presents a huge problem for society and our way of life. Overall, poor numeracy skills are estimated to cost the UK economy £20.2 billion each year and UK businesses £3.2 billion annually. Worryingly a recent report predicted that the UK is set to drop from 11th to 14th in the numeracy skills ranking of 17 OECD countries by 2030.

All of these facts paint a pretty dismal picture of numeracy in the UK, but I believe that all is not lost. As businesses, we have a huge opportunity to get involved and make a difference. Last year we at KPMG took the decision to help change the numeracy narrative by announcing a new partnership with the charity National Numeracy.

Throughout the year we support our people volunteering on numeracy based projects and support the charity to campaign for change. We also look to raise awareness of poor numeracy and promote the simple steps people and businesses can take to change this.  In the last year alone 3,000 of volunteers have impacted on the lives of around 20,000 people in one way or another.

Last year the inaugural National Numeracy Day saw over 100 organisations joining together to reach the millions of people across the country who struggle with numeracy. As a direct result over 25,000 people signed up to test their skills and to start their journey towards greater confidence and skills with numbers.

But this year we want to go even further. National Numeracy Day 2019 falls on the 15th May and we are encouraging everyone in the business community to get involved and spread the word. The more businesses that reach out through their people, clients and communities, the more people struggling with poor numeracy we will reach.

My ask of you is that you encourage your employer to get involved and help us spread the word.

There are a range of ways in which businesses and other organisations can do this:

  • Encourage employees, suppliers and customers to take the National Numeracy Challenge, the free online numeracy assessment tool: www.numeracyday.com
  • Take action by committing to support staff with numeracy skills, as part of either Learning & Development or Training programmes
  • For more information about taking part and to access further free resources, visit: www.numeracyday.com

We’re incredibly proud that the first UK National Numeracy Day helped start a much-needed conversation about the importance of numeracy skills but we need more help from the business community to build on this success. Please join in!

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