Leader Views


Posted on:
14th May, 2018

It's vital we improve numeracy levels for the future of the UK economy

Wednesday 16th May is National Numeracy Day. Nearly half the working-age population have the numeracy skills of a primary school child and those with poor numeracy skills are more than twice as likely to be unemployed. Here, the CEO of National Numeracy, Mike Ellicock, sets out how we can improve numeracy levels.

It's vital we improve numeracy levels for the future of the UK economy

In our society, it seems culturally acceptable for many people to say “I’m not a numbers person”. But numbers play a big part in all of our lives. From household budgeting, to shopping, cooking, getting to work on time, we all use numbers every day.

However, poor numeracy costs the UK economy over £20bn every year. Nearly half (49%) of UK working age adults currently have the numeracy levels that we expect of primary school children, and this is having a significant negative impact on them, employers and society overall. Numeracy levels must improve.

This is why National Numeracy has joined forces with KPMG to found National Numeracy Day, which is taking next Wednesday 16th May 2018. It will be an annual celebration of the importance of numbers in everyday life and will help to reframe attitudes to numeracy. The day aims to bring together employers, educators, the general public and supporters from across the UK to help us improve numeracy levels.

We want to help people feel more confident and take action to improve their numeracy using a range of free online quizzes and other activities, including checking whether they have the Essentials of Numeracy via our free online learning tool www.nnchallenge.org.uk/lepn 

We’ve launched a national campaign which is backed by leading voices including MoneySavingExpert’s Martin Lewis, television personality Rachel Riley and Bank of England’s Andy Haldane. And we are calling upon Local Enterprise Partnerships to help us spread the word.

Here are some easy ways to help us improve the nation’s number skills:

  • Join the campaign thunderclap to spread the message on social media – it takes less than two minutes.



  • Take a look at the free toolkits on the campaign website to help bring National Numeracy Day to life in your workplace. The toolkits contain activities, maths puzzles, printable posters and more.


Together, we can ensure that more people benefit from knowing how to use numbers well.

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