Just 5% of businesses provide both numeracy training and support for employees, despite 94% of senior decision-makers saying numeracy skills are important to their business, new research by leading vocational London university GSM London has revealed.

The YouGov research polled 2,000 UK adults and 1,000 senior business decision-makers to find out the strength of the UK’s maths skills and how this could potentially affect performance in the workplace.

Overall, 15% of businesses polled said they feel their company lacks people with appropriate numeracy skills, rising to more than one in four businesses in the manufacturing industry.

The top 5 sectors where senior decision-makers felt their businesses employees were lacking in maths skills:

  1. Manufacturing (26%)
  2. Hospitality and Leisure (22%)
  3. Retail (20%)
  4. Construction (18%)
  5. Finance and Accounting (14%)

Despite this clear skills gap, few companies offer training and support for employees to improve their numeracy skills.


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Senior decision-makers in the Hospitality and Leisure sector said their companies offer no numeracy training or support for their employees.

Of those that do offer support, the worst offending industries with the smallest number of businesses offering numeracy assistance are:

  1. IT & Telecoms 4%
  2. Construction 5%
  3. Finance and Accounting 5%
  4. Retail 6%
  5. Manufacturing 8%

The research also shows that 81% of adults have not tried to improve their numeracy skills since leaving full-time education.

When it comes to hiring, 75% of senior business decision-makers claim they would choose one candidate over another if they had better numeracy skills.

Over half (57%) admitted that they would be unlikely to hire a candidate who did not have a grade C or above in GCSE Maths. This may be a contributing factor to the discovery that over one in ten (12%) 18 to 24-year-olds admitted to exaggerating their maths skills when applying for a job.

Janki Amin, Employer Relations & Partnerships Manager at GSM London, said: “The lack of support and training for UK workers with their numeracy skills came as a surprise to us as senior decision-makers see it as important for their businesses.

“Learning and training shouldn’t end once a person has finished school or higher education, and there is always opportunities to develop your skills throughout your career.

“Focusing on more training and support would not only benefit a business from a HR perspective but also makes business sense to develop your workforce.”

Mike Ellicock, Chief Executive at National Numeracy, said: “Good numeracy is essential in every job and virtually every aspect of daily life, and the fact is that everyone can improve their everyday maths skills – with effort and support. No-one should write themselves off – or write themselves out of a job – because of a lack of confidence with numbers.”

For more information please contact [email protected] 0113 3235 535

About GSM London

GSM London provides higher education for students of all ages and backgrounds. Our aim is to make education as accessible as possible and to support students in their career ambitions. We are truly multicultural with students from very different areas of London, as well as the Gulf States, Nigeria, the Far East and Europe.

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc.

UK survey: Total sample size was 2,109 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 1st – 2nd June 2015.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).

Business survey: Total sample size was 1,006 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 1st – 9th June 2015.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of GB business size.