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It’s a smart move not to ignore this.

An estimated eight million people in the United Kingdom do not have the level of skills in mathematics that would be expected of a nine-year-old. This is shocking and does not add up for a country that seeks to be competitive in the world.

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Perhaps just behind an ability to read and write, knowledge of mathematics is at the core of almost everything we do.

Whether it is working out an equation at work or understanding the grocery bill, at least up to a basic level, it is a must-have for everyone.

Multiply is the latest initiative aimed at improving the numeracy of the nation.

The government has committed to the scheme and put £559 million behind the project.

From what is understood, this will be channelled through the new £1.5bn UK Shared Prosperity Fund, which replaces a pot of money previously allocated and distributed by the EU, and this has the aim that government can target funding where it is needed most.

It is seen as an essential part of the levelling up agenda.

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Multiply is primarily aimed at people without formal qualifications, even at the most basic level in maths.

To this extent, it will target some of the most underprivileged communities.

From what is known, there do not appear to be any specific numerical targets for Multiply, which seems odd.

There are many objectives behind the initiative, one of which is to improve employability because some level of mathematics is essential in many jobs. In many cases, a specific qualification level is required.

Without this, people are excluded from a big part of the labour market.
People who understand numbers are more likely to get a job, earn more, and progress onto further training.

But it is also about enabling people to have a better everyday life.

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Without an understanding of at least basic maths, how can people manage their family budget, make sure that they are not being cheated at the shops or help their children with homework?

Target learners are adults aged 19 or over who have not previously attained a GCSE Grade 4/C or higher maths qualification.

They can either be working towards a maths GCSE or Functional Skills Qualification, need specific numeracy skills for their work or progression or want to brush up on the skills to help them get on in life and work.
At Pathway Group, we understand that people who do not have a decent level of ability in mathematics and English are severely disadvantaged.

The fact that Multiply is aimed at adults is in line with our belief that at every age, people have the opportunity to pick up new skills that they might not have learned and embrace true lifelong learning.

Pathway Group believes that our links with businesses, communities and networks leave us well placed to help to deliver Multiply.

Specifically, we have ambitions to provide courses that help people to manage their money, that work with employers and provide people with the skills with numbers that improve their chances of getting jobs.

We would look to offer training that enables people to support their children in their learning.

People aged 19 or over that have recently left the care system are also an important target, as are prisoners or those recently released or on licence.

Offenders and former offenders are entitled to a second chance and helping give them skills that improve their chances of getting work, is probably the best way of keeping them away from reoffending.

We want to see appropriate levels of mathematical understanding included in other vocational courses.

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More detail is needed, and the Government is currently inviting the Greater London Authority, Mayoral Combined Authorities, and upper tier and unitary authorities outside of these areas in England to develop investment plans to improve adult numeracy.

There will be scepticism, which is understandable because we have lost count of the number of times Governments of all colours have committed to making the country more numerate and literate.

But hope springs eternal, and we do not doubt that improving adult numeracy would benefit millions of people who have been left behind, for employers and the country’s prosperity.

 

Hopefully, more details will be forthcoming soon, and we stand ready to play our part.