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National Numeracy Challenge for TSSA members

1 November 2014

10 reasons why poor numeracy skills is bad for us. Take the online challenge - wht have you got to lose?

Although Britain’s literacy has improved in recent years, numeracy levels have gone down.

Across the UK, around 4 in 5 adults have a low level of numeracy - roughly defined as the adult skills equivalent of being below GCSE grade C level. In 2011, the Skills for Life Survey showed that numeracy skills in England declined in the 8 years from 2003.

TSSA believe that this is bad news for people in work and in their personal life. We’ve pulled together some of the evidence to show why poor numeracy skills is damaging our health and our pockets.


Ten reasons why poor numeracy skills is bad for us


1. We need in most aspects of our daily life. A 2012 report reveals that 2 in 5 people (36%) said that poor maths skills had in some way held them back in their daily life.

2. It affects our health. Health care research has proposed that poor numeracy feeds into poorer health and higher mortality. This is the result of limited participation in screening for diseases, lack of understanding of one's treatment plan and difficulties managing chronic conditions such as diabetes.

3. It affects our relationships with our children. 1 in 5 adults with children in their household had felt held back in helping children with school work.

4. It affects our pay. A 2008 KPMG report on the cost of poor numeracy estimated the wage premium is on average 10%. Recent data by the OECD, has shown that there is a direct relationship between wage distribution and numeracy skills.

5. We won’t be able to get a good deal. Bad numeracy means we can’t tell the difference between the mobile phone contracts we are being offered and how to compare offers at the supermarket. The Money Advisory Service has revealedthat16% of the population are unable to identify the available balance on a bank statement while 1 in 10 cannot identify the better deal.

6. We can be fooled by statistics. Government polls and statistics relies on people understanding the numbers, if we don’t know what they mean, we can easily be duped by fake statistics. The CBI found that over a third (37%) believe that using fractions, decimals and ratios prove difficult for many of the workforce.

7. It affects the future generation. The Department of Education's statistics show that15% of primary school childrendid not reach the requirements for maths, while for GCSEs that rose to 32% - where 7% do not even attempt to complete the module.

8. It’s bad for our self confidence. Research from a review of adult upskilling in numeracy by the Department for Business and Industry has demonstrated thatimproving one's numeracy contributes to a larger amount of personal and social confidence. In that study,77% of those who took up the training said it improved their quality of life, while 43% reported that they use maths and numbers more often. Learners found maths courses tougher but more rewarding than literacy courses. They reported being able to avoid embarrassment surrounding inability to perform numeracy tasks, having a larger degree of control over tasks involving numeric elements and a lesser need to employ 'work-around' solutions.

9. We will overspend. If we don’t know how to calculate floor or wall space we will over-order wallpaper or carpet. We won’t know how to buy the correct amount for recipes and we won’t be able to make savings in our budget. The Money Advisory Service’s report shows that half of UK adults struggle to keep up with their bills and credit commitments.

10. We won’t be able to get a better job. The recent International Survey of Adult Skills led the OECD to conclude that"The talent pool of highly skilled adults in England and Northern Ireland is likely to shrink relative to that of other countries".England’s adult population is becoming less - not more – competitive.

If you read this and it rings a bell, you can take the National Numeracy challenge online to see where you may have weaknesses and be directed to further help.

What have you got to lose?

TSSA have negotiated a special login for the online challenge:

For the unique link and access code for TSSA members to access the Challenge Online:
Access code: tras1

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