I share National Numeracy’s belief that, given the right support, everyone can develop the numeracy skills they'll need throughout their lifetime. Being able to understand numbers not only boosts an individual's education, but also enhances their day-to-day skills, and also their aspirations for the future.
By helping people build their confidence in everyday maths, through campaigns such as National Numeracy Day, we can help individuals to take steps to participate more in society, apply for jobs they might have previously shied away from, understand budgeting better, and secure themselves a brighter financial future.
This is why through my work here at PFG and working with National Numeracy over the years, I understand and appreciate that those of us who can support and make a difference, should. But how can we help as individuals and organisations?
Before I jump into that, however, the last time I wrote on this subject and my membership of the National Numeracy's Leadership Council, I received some comments from my peers which:
- highlighted first-hand examples of teenagers leaving school without basic finance knowledge,
- emphasised how important confidence in maths is in helping people to manage their money, and
- shone a spotlight on how the under-studied, and under-resourced, condition of dyscalculia (sometimes referred to as number blindness) affects 3-6% of our population which will also have an impact on numeracy skills.
So I'd just like to touch on one thing we're doing to help address some of these things at PFG, including improving financial inclusion through financial education and addressing the numeracy and literacy skills agenda.
PFG supports financial inclusion by lending responsibly to the one in five people in the UK who are financially underserved. Part of this is about making sure we're providing information on the products and services that we offer to our 1.6m customers in a way that is accessible and understandable.
By talking to our customers, and taking the time to understand people and their needs, we create relevant, accessible finance-based content to minimum readability standards across the board. Our teams create and share useful, usable content relating to budgeting, finance, and loan products, all written so primary-aged children could understand it. Working to these principles, our content is therefore often more dyscalculia-friendly, offering reference points, creating visual models, and writing content so that the reader can better comprehend the relevance of the number to the topic. But we can always do better.
I think it's important for organisations like ourselves to be providing accessible financial education - customers should have all the information they need at their fingertips, and not have to search for it or struggle to understand it. It's responsible. But providing relevant information to customers and colleagues is just the start, it should be the norm.
Employers however need to join forces to raise awareness of the importance of the numeracy skills agenda to deliver real change. And that's what we're doing by supporting the National Numeracy Day 'Big Number Natter' in 2022.
Helping people to make good decisions in their daily life and at work
Five years ago, we joined forces with National Numeracy, funding the development of resources, and raising awareness about the poor numeracy levels which exist in the UK.
National Numeracy believes:
- Numeracy is essential
- Everyone can Improve
- Improvement takes effort and application and needs encouragement, support, and teaching - The education system, employers, and politicians all have a part to play
- Negative attitudes are the biggest barrier to getting the UK numerate
And I couldn’t agree more. If we can boost positive attitudes toward numbers, and instil growth mindsets In this space, we could be looking towards a nation where the majority make good decisions in their daily life and at work, leading to a brighter financial future for all.
Currently, it's estimated that 49% of the UK's working population does not have the skills they need - and I believe we can change that, despite recent societal setbacks.
Joining the Big Number Natter
This year, we're once again a lead sponsor of National Numeracy Day on May 18th, 2022 This time:
- We're engaging with PFG colleagues to ask their local schools to sign up to become numeracy champions: https://www.nationalnumeracy.org.uk/numeracyday/champion-U18?utm_source=pfg
- We're asking people to take the National Numeracy challenge themselves - in just a few minutes, they'll get insights into their own number ability, as well as access resources to support them and their families: www.nnchallenge.org.uk/pfg2
- Colleagues are planning on sharing where and how they use numbers at home and at work, and
- We've asked our consumer-facing marketing teams to share National Numeracy's message on their websites, on social media, and through customer communications
I'm hopeful that the government's skills for life programme, Multiply, which is aimed at people over the age of 19 who didn’t attain their Maths GSCE will make a real impact. But as a member of the National Numeracy Leadership council, I ask you to consider what the organisation you work for could do, and challenge ourselves to think about where else we could improve to help support the UK in developing number confidence.
If you're interested in how you could get involved and promote National Numeracy's message in your organisation, simply visit: https://www.nationalnumeracy.org.uk/numeracyday/champion-18plus?utm_source=pfg
The team at National Numeracy has put together a resource pack to help you do just that.