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Increasing numeracy skills and confidence across the UK

Increasing numeracy skills and confidence

Sustained and collaborative action by businesses on numeracy is needed to ensure everyone can fulfil their potential.

Rachel Hopcroft

Head of Corporate Affairs

KPMG in the UK


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Increasing numeracy skills and confidence across the UK - photo of a girl looking at a blackboard of formulas

Why numeracy for KPMG:

The ability to understand numbers and analyse data is crucial to our success in helping our clients meet the challenges they face. That’s true whether it’s a question of examining their financial data, applying predictive analytics to transform operating models or building technological solutions to enhance cyber security within their organisations.

Over 17 million adults in the UK, however, still struggle with basic numeracy. Although this issue is often concealed, many of our stakeholders, such as our clients, suppliers and wider business community, could benefit significantly from steps to improve this fundamental problem. KPMG is committed to engaging our employees, our supply chain and the wider business community to help tackle poor numeracy – and drive economic productivity and social mobility across the UK as a result.

Why numeracy for the UK:

Poor levels of numeracy pose a heavy financial cost to the individual and the economy, estimated to be £20 billion a year. There are too many people in the UK who lack the basic numeracy skills that are essential in everyday work and life. This is a waste of human and economic capital that we can’t afford to ignore.

The UK is one of the least socially mobile countries in the world: basic skills, such as numeracy, are critical to changing this situation.

Improving numeracy levels is also a business issue. A highly skilled workforce is needed to power the success of our future economy. If we are to solve the UK’s long-standing productivity puzzle, sustained and collaborative action by businesses on numeracy is vital to ensure everyone is able to fulfil their potential.

Our Action on Numeracy:

KPMG has a long history of working with disadvantaged young people to improve their basic skills. The KPMG Foundation, which is committed to helping children from the most challenging socio-economic backgrounds, reached over 30,000 children with its Every Child Counts programme, providing daily access to a specialist ‘Numbers Count’ teacher. Evaluation by the University of Oxford of Every Child Counts found that pupils taking part made a 15 month leap in progress after just 4 months of support.

In addition to our numeracy programmes at the City Academy, Hackney and schools across the UK, in 2017 we supported research to deepen our impact on numeracy. In our role as co-Chair of the Fair Education Alliance working group for numeracy, we supported Achievement for All’s report, ‘Closing the attainment gap in maths: a study of good practice in early years and primary settings’. This provided powerful case studies where whole school or setting approaches to maths, had been effectively embedded resulting in improved outcomes.

We were proud to support National Numeracy’s report ‘The Essentials of Numeracy: A new approach to making the UK Numerate’. The report highlighted the lack of progress in improving the UK’s numeracy levels. It offered an approach to improving number skills based around National Numeracy’s ‘Essentials for Numeracy’ diagnostic and support package.

We were the Founding Supporter of the inaugural National Numeracy Day, 16 May 2018. The day sought to change attitudes to numeracy, through a celebration of the importance of numbers in everyday life. The day brought together over 100 individuals, employers, educators and supporters from across the UK to help us improve numeracy levels and drive sustained and collaborative action on numeracy. The day saw 10,000 people register to start improving their numeracy on National Numeracy’s free online tool, with 25,000 people doing so over the month of May.

© 2021 KPMG LLP a UK limited liability partnership and a member firm of the KPMG global organisation of independent member firms affiliated with KPMG International Limited, a private English company limited by guarantee. All rights reserved.

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