CIMA: One-third of school leavers lack numeracy skills

Tuesday 29 November 2016

One-third of school leavers are without the basic numeracy skills needed for a career, a new study has found. 

Research from the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) found that 82 per cent of school leavers require substantial training, marking a seven per cent increase from last year. 

The CIMA believes the absence of work-ready school leavers is having a negative impact on British productivity, with 82 per cent of UK school leavers needing substantial training. This is a seven per cent rise from 2015. 

Over 90 per cent of finance professionals said their workload has risen due to a lack of work-ready juniors, as 44 per cent suggesting that the trend affected departmental productivity. 

As well as this, 66 per cent of respondents said higher volumes of work led to a rise in stress levels among staff. 

CIMA suggested that the main weaknesses for new recruits were people skills and business skills, while technical abilities were lacking among some. The study also suggested that the quality of new hires is having an adverse impact on business performance. 

Noel Tagoe, Executive Vice President, Academics, CIMA said: “The lack of workplace preparation of our school leavers is undermining business performance, and limiting the potential of our young people. 

“Children spend over a decade at school and should expect to emerge with the functional numeracy and literacy skills on which to base a career. Despite all the changes we’ve seen to our education system, I am worried that our students’ grasp of the basics is not improving.”

Mr Tagoe explained that, at this current time of political and economic instability, the lack of knowledge among school leavers is especially concerning. 

However, there were positives in the UK’s education sector, as 62 per cent of UK graduates suggested they needed little or no training at all, whereas 85 per cent were sufficiently prepared with regard to functional skills.

What’s more, apprentices were reviewed positively, as 80 per cent were properly prepared when it comes to IT skills and 79 per cent were capable of functional literacy and numeracy abilities. 

As the UK economy is primed for uncertain times following the EU Referendum, it is vital that the country's workforce is as productive as possible. These figures will perhaps act as a warning to the government, as it begins exit negotiations and addresses how to replace EU employment rights effectively while minimising disruption to businesses. 

By Victoria McDonnell

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