UK Firms Need Migrant Math Skills

Maths has never been one of the trendy subjects to be studied in further education. For a variety of reasons, it’s often perceived as difficult with limited direct links to good employment opportunities. This unfortunately is highly misleading as maths is in huge demand among employers in all sorts of areas. So much so that Uk firms say that there is a genuine shortage of maths skills and they are having to rely on UK migrants rather than employ British candidates.


A recent report has said that there is an urgent need to improve ‘post 16’ maths skills in British students. Particularly in areas which require statistical and quantitative skills (QS), there is a shortage of people with the relevant skills. Maths is often seen as a subject to be studied up until 16 and then switched in preference to other subjects. The report calls for the UK Government to encourage more students to study maths at a higher level in order to keep up with other countries like the US for example.

In the UK, many of the top UK QS jobs are filled with people who were born outside the United Kingdom. In fact two thirds of those covered in the survey, had arrived in the UK over the last ten years. This situation differed from most other employment sectors which suggest there is a specific problem attracting UK candidates with the requisite skills.

The opportunities for the economy to tap into the ‘big data’ revolution are increasing every year, yet without a supply of skilled maths graduates then the UK could start falling behind. The potential needs to be highlighted particularly to students who are considering options for advanced study.

The challenges for the UK education sector to meet that demand are evident, however the rewards are also there too. There is a report on the BBC News Online education sector site, see this to access from the Centre for Economic and Business Research Unit who suggest that nearly 60,000 new jobs which require specific mathematics skills will be created up until 2017.

Dame Jil Matheson, chair of the British Academy project, said: “For our ambition to be fully realised within a generation, we must not underestimate the cultural change that is required – starting now – primarily, but not entirely, with the UK’s education systems.”

Further Reading:

BBC Australia – Source


Want a Great Job – Study Maths

It’s often something that is levelled at Mathematics for those considering studying, what sort of job can I get?  There is perhaps an idea that mathematics is associated with a very narrow job range or academia, however the reality couldn’t be further from the truth.

The reality is that a maths degree opens the door to some of the most interesting and best paid jobs available.  A recent survey by Careercast has perfectly illustrated this with maths related jobs appearing heavily in it’s top ten.  People with maths skills have access to a host of well paid career opportunities and each year the possibilities seem to increase possibly due to the shortage of skilled mathematicians.

Here’s a quick look at some of the top jobs in the survey:

  • Actuary – studying and evaluating the probability of future events,  including in insurance and scientific industries.
  • Audiologist – Involves the diagnosis and treatment of hearing problems.
  • Mathematician – experts who apply mathematical theories and formulas are in demand in all sorts of industries.
  • Statisticians – a specialised mathematician who deals in analysing statistical data in things like surveys and experiments.
  • Biomedical Engineer – analysing and designing solutions in biology and medicine, specifically looking at improving patient care.
  • Data Scientist – new entry brought into existence by ‘big data’. Combines IT, Statistics and other disciplines to analyse trends in data.
  • Dental hygienist –  profession involves cleaning teeth, examining patients.
  • Software engineer – research, design and create software and hardware systems for a variety of purposes across a whole range of industries.

It’s obvious to see a pattern, both mathematics and health care feature heavily across these highly rated jobs.   The above roles are of course fairly generic and there are many thousands of variants of many of them working in all sorts of different industries.  If you look at further down the list, the computer industry is one that is also featured very heavily.  It’s interesting that many people with maths and computer backgrounds are nowadays often self employed too, in fact some of the world’s biggest companies started like this.  There are some interesting documentaries about these subjects on both American and UK TV who often broadcast shows focussed on jobs and entrepreneurs – check out these tools to use proxies to access these TV stations like the BBC.

It perfectly illustrates how you should not get caught up in common perceptions of specific subjects.  At first it would seem that maths is linked to quite a narrow cross section of career possibilities where as in reality it’s completely the opposite.  In fact qualifications in maths often open many doors without closing some, for example many IT and computer companies prefer to train maths graduates from scratch rather than take people with a programming or IT background.

James Hevin

Students Enjoy Vedic Mathematics

It takes 11-year old Aditya Ray only seconds to multiply a five-digit number using a four-digit one, thanks to Vedic mathematics, which he claims makes it quicker and accurate. By traditional method, he would have significantly more than a minute to get the answer.

“It takes me around one plus a half minutes to multiply such large numbers utilizing the conventional technique. However, if I take the Vedic maths course, I could solve it in 30 seconds,” the Class 6 student explained.


The Kolkata-based Ray added that while his school anticipates him to solve problems using the traditional manner, he at times uses Vedic maths.

Discovered by Hindu seer Swami Bharati Krishna Tirthaji in the early 20th century, additionally it is said to not be difficult to consider, creates inquisitiveness, offers multiple ways of doing precisely the same computation and improves analytic thinking.

According to the School of Vedic Maths (SOVM), Tirthaji was born in Tirunelveli in Tamil Nadu in 1884. After finishing his Master of Arts he was a faculty principal. The college principal quit that to embrace a religious path. It was during deep meditation that he got inner revelations on the 16 sutras from the appendix of Atharva Veda, one of the four vedas, the primeval Indian scholastic and religious texts.

Tirthaji declared that any mathematical problem can be solved using them.
Gaurav Tekriwal, president of the Vedic Math Forum India, said Vedic maths was a collection of techniques to calculate faster when compared to the traditional systems.
“With just a little practice in Vedic maths one can make routine computations easier, simpler and quicker so much so that you can call it ‘World’s Fastest Mental Maths System’. It’s applications mainly in arithmetic and algebra and therefore is a favorite of competitive exam aspirants who wish to handle maximum problems in less time,” Tekriwal told IANS.

On-line courses spread over 30 hours for pupils and 40 hours for teachers are held by the Forum. The classes are one on one.

Pradeep Kumar, founder director of Magical Methods, which supplies training shared that using such calculations, choosing the square of any number ending with five becomes incredibly simple.

“Say you are looking for square of 85. You multiply 5 by 5 and set 25 as your right part of the solution. Then, multiply 8 and set 72 as your left element of the solution. Your answer is 7,225,” he said, including the same formula can be used to locate square of any number ending with five.

The division is slowly gaining popularity among students “because it’s quite useful, especially for anyone planning to consider competitive examinations”, Kumar said.

“Nowadays, there is a large number of competitive exams. Speed is really one of the factors that are key to crack any assessment which tests numeric ability. Vedic maths is an excellent instrument.

Nair added that from a teacher’s perspective, it gives “tremendous possibilities to research learning mathematics from many positions as well as in innovative ways”.

“It has little importance. We might as well forget it. Though it may have a few useful bits, the aura around it makes it very damaging on the whole,” Dani told IANS over email.

Retired 85-year-old teacher and educationist Dinanath Batra, who got American scholar is batting for the debut of Vedic maths in universities and schools.

Those people who have profited from Vedic Maths and want it introduced in the schooling system favour it. Teachers of conventional mathematics and school principals we  spoke to agreed that it should be formally introduced.  It was interesting to see that there were examples on the internet, including in Japan and accessible using a Russian proxy – in schools in Moscow.

“There is no damage in introducing it in the primary level in schools, at least some parts of it. It’ll only make the pupils’ base stronger. It has been seen that pupils take interest when new techniques are taught,” Rekha Dwivedi, a mathematics teacher at a government school in Dwarka in Delhi.

She added that teachers ought to be first trained.

Agreed Nair, who said that introducing Vedic maths will be good notably in Courses 6 to 9, “but with no suitable pedagogy in teaching and appropriate training to teachers, it mightn’t be quite powerful.”
In fact, vedic maths got the attention of Japan over a decade ago and it could establish an international occurrence like the Chinese abacus if channelized properly.

Additional Information

Using the News to Learn Maths

Students frequently request examples they can relate to when will they make use of the math they are learning, and teachers often struggle to show real-world applications of the math they are teaching. Yet a rich source of material for both pupil and teacher is located every day: current events. The belief of Math in the News is the idea that each relevant narrative (the weather, sports, space travel, the market, etc.) can be recast as a math narrative. Let’s look with a good example.

All students go to pictures and therefore are accustomed to prices for other costs, food at the concessions, and tickets. They know there is an effective movie on the basis of the number of tickets sold as well as the amount of cash it makes. It is a topic that pupils already are interested in. You are halfway toward creating a lesson.


There are several Web sites that keep an eye on data on all films released in a given year. Start by asking students when they understand just how much cash was made in 2013 from all pictures. Write their guesses on the board. Arrange the numbers from least to greatest. From these speculations you are able to start to develop the concepts of median range, and mean of a group of data.

All of a sudden a data-gathering task has a real and private relevance for pupils.

After that you can show the students the top movies for the entire year. Ask exactly how many pupils watched every one of the 10. See whether the most notable movie was watched by more pupils. You can then break it down further – ask who watched it on ITV player or using a UK VPN perhaps.  Then ask them to think the amount of money each film brought in in ticket sales. Have students find the average of the guesses, then compare them to the specific numbers from the Web site.

You don’t have to work with only historical data. At just about any certain time of the entire year, a group is always of films about to be released, and one marquee movie which gets a great deal of promotion. Then have the particular numbers are gathered by the students once the weekend box office numbers are understood. Ask them to compare their predicted values with the actuals. And all of a sudden the mathematics has taken on real meaning for the students.

Current events offer an endless chance for mathematics-related stories. Identify the themes that interest your students. Have a day of collecting news articles, then possess the pupils find the underlying math story.

Article Citation

New Maths Schools to Open

The Russell Group who form the oldest and most established Universities in the UK, are to open a series of colleges specialising in Mathematics.  It’s one of a series of initiatives to try and address a downward spiral in the subject in the UK.

The colleges will have limited numbers but will offer expert tuition from academics, will offer Oxbridge entrance exams and allow students to take part in advanced subjects like Robotics and medical testing as part of their dissertations.  The initiative was unveiled by the Education secretary last week but many fear that it will only have a small impact on a lucky few pupils who are able to attend.


There is a fear, although one that seems ever present in any developed country, that the standards of mathematics is falling behind other countries.  For example some estimate that a child from a poor family in China is likely to be about a year ahead of a child from a wealthy UK family in mathematics.

It’s not always the best measurement though as there are many who disagree with the factory style education system in China.  Pupils in China always do well in scientific based fact tests but fare poorly in other areas which measure imagination, cognitive reason and communication skills.  These are skills that drive invention and ultimately push economies forward with new ideas and entrepreneurial development.

There is little doubt that these colleges will produce fine mathematicians.  Each college will be hugely oversubscribed and will require that pupils sit a numeracy aptitude test, followed by an interview in order to achieve a place.  Combine this with the better resources and a high standard of tuition then it can hardly fail to give a big boost to those students who are selected.

Hopefully more resources will be directed at other students in order to bring up the overall level of numeracy in  the UK.  The sad reality that producing a few hundred gifted mathematicians is not on it’s own going to improve general standards.

There are other initiatives being implemented however and some more to be announced soon linked in with the new free schools.  You can find more information on the British media sites including the BBC, for those outside the UK – use this watch Iplayer abroad to access all the documentaries and news feeds.

Gillian Hensforth: Education and Technology.


Introducing Anonymity to Youtube

The video sharing giant, YouTube has introduced a long needed feature to protect peoples anonymity – the ability to blur peoples faces.  For many years activists and protestors living in police states and under dictators have used social media sites to inform the world of events in their countries.  Often with communications locked down and extensive surveillance in place these sites are the only ways that people can communicate with the outside world.  Unfortunately in countries like Syria, Iran and many of the ex-Russian states the authorities use these videos for their own security requirements.

Just think about it – these protest videos will commonly involve activists speaking out against regimes, close pictures and video streams of protests – all identifying leading activists and protesters.  All the regimes have to do is identify them and go and pick them up.  They also use them for real time security operations, videos are often uploaded live during meetings and protests.  Security services can use them to quickly identify locations and send people in to disrupt or arrest individuals involved.

There are no specific figures on how many people have been arrested across the world because of these videos, but it is certainly in the thousands judging on the number of stories that circulate.  Giving users the ability to quickly blur faces and other recognisable features in a video will go a long way to protecting the safety of activists in countries like Iran.  It of course doesn’t offer the true panacea of online anonymity that sites like this aspire to –  but it offers an important level of protection.  It also raises awareness of the dangers that posting these videos online can cause.  Many videos are uploaded by bystanders or angry young people who perhaps don’t consider the consequences of identifying activists on the front line.

There are other issues with uploading and identifying individuals online, there are definitely other dangers too.  Many people fail to consider that their IP address is logged, by many different servers while they are online.  Records exists in ISPs and on the web servers you connect to.  The only way to protect this is to obscure your real IP address and encrypt your connection.   Ironically although not advocated as a security precaution – this video about watching the BBC outside the UK, demonstrates one method of uploading videos anonymously.

The technology is not quite perfect and we are unsure behind the effectiveness of the algorithm that detects and blurs the faces.  This is not a selective technology either at the moment with YouTube only offering the facility to blur all faces (not select which to blur and which to leave). Whatever it’s initial shortcomings though, it’s certainly an important step in offering some level of privacy online and hopefully we’ll see similar measures being implemented at other video and photo sharing sites shortly.


Introducing the Monty Hall Problem

I’m sure many of you are familiar with this problem before because it’s pretty famous.  But just in case you haven’t here’s a great little video explaining the ’Monty Hall Problem’.

The vast majority of people first assume that switching choices after the first stage makes no difference.  Simply because the choices left would suggest that you still have a 50/50 chance of choosing the prize.  Hopefully that video explains why you would be much better to switch than stick with your original choice.

The best explanation I’ve seen is on the BBC web site by my favorite TV mathematician Marcus du Sautoy.  You can catch the show on  the BBC website at this address – – here they actually run a small experiment to demonstrate the logic behind this problem.

Soem people may have problems watch the BBC video from outside the UK as it’s linked to a BBC show about Mathematics.  Apparently there are some licensing restrictions and stuff which prevent you accessing the video content – try this site which can with issues like how you can watch British TV even when in the USA or outside the UK –

It’s a great little problem though for anyone interested in probability and for anyone fooled into the 50/50 assumption don’t worry – many famous mathematicians made the same mistake first.  It’s so counter intuitive to our understanding of probability theory on first sight it’s easy to see why it’s so confusing.


Australian Maths Test That Didn’t Quite Work

It’s not a new concept, instead of posting some bland advert in a newspaper sometimes organisations try and spice up their advertisements particularly when looking for specialist positions.  GCHQ, the UK Intelligence organisation used to advertise some positions in encrypted, with the advertisement and contact details hidden in a cipher that applicants needed to crack to apply.

This is what the Australian Air Force decided to do when looking for some new engineers.  They hid the phone number inside a complicated maths equation, meaning you had to solves the puzzle in order to ring up and get the application form.  Unfortunately the number of applicants was extremely low, in fact nobody applied.

The problem turned out not to be the attractiveness of the Air Force as an employer, rather the numerical application process. Unfortunately the puzzle that was published contained two typos that had been introduced inadvertantly, making the puzzle impossible to solve –

Here’s the puzzle with the errors highighted.  Fortunately for the airforce, some clever Reddit users spotted the mistake and informed them of the errors.  The formula incorrctly showed sin to the power of 2x when it should have read sin(2x).  The second error involved replacing the expression (2k-1)! with (2k+1)!.

The errors have now been fixed so if you fancy a job with the Australian Air Force as an engineer then get online and crack that code. For those who live outside Australia you better chck the entry requirements and remember to change your IP address if you get blocked forrm any of the sites – this web page shows how to  use a VPN on your iPAd – In the example it’s for changing to a UK based address for watching the BBC but it works the same way for accessing Aussie sites too great little video here.

It may be too late to apply though as apparently all the Reddit users who fixed the mistake where exactly the sort of people who the Australian recruiters where looking for!

Maths and Marketing

The main connection between maths and marketing is that both obviously rely on numbers. You need people/numbers to make both work, there needs to be a formula that people can follow, similar to a recipe that makes sense to everyone involved.

I’d bet that most don’t even consider this link but it can be crucial.  Mathematics can be used at all stages of the marketing process, but it’s probably most important in the design and result analysis stages.  For example if you’re going to work out the return of investment in any sort of campaign – you need maths.  If you do your research properly,  and I mean to the stage of using something like a fast UK proxy to analyse your potential markets.  Then the next stage of analysing returns and results is crucial, don’t get misled by not doing this properly.

Likewise, those in website design for businesses need to factor in the size of web pages so that they are as user friendly as they possibly can be. Text size needs to be spot on so that not only can people read it, but that it is as space saving as possible. If you allow adverts on your website, you need to think about what size these have to be to maximise revenue but also so that your visitors do not get lost in a sea of advertisements.

Graphic designers also need to be savvy when it comes to saving space while getting important messages across. Images need to be inspiring, but also the right size, text needs to convey messages while not taking up too much of the flyer, poster, or email template etc. Angles also come into play.

Social media marketing relies on a large number of fans and the ability to keep them engaged by sending out messages. But a high number of advertisements will dissuade them from engaging with you while a small number of engaging messages will not provide a platform for engagement.

When people question the important of maths in the real world, be sure to remember this example. Maths often influences the outcome of many aspects of everyday life.


Further Reading:

Maths in popular culture

It seems as if maths is becoming a major part of popular culture, perhaps we have an innate desire to find the answers to problems, or maybe we just like the feeling of self-satisfaction when we find the right answer.

I often see mathematical problems posted on Facebook, and you are prompted to either ‘like’ or ‘comment’ on the post, this is dependent on which answer you get. Similarly, a popular radio show in the UK gives its listeners a question to solve every week, you are then encouraged to text your answer to the host. The host then appeals to our desire for self-satisfaction as he then proceeds to read out the names of people who have given the right answer, as well as a list of people who were not correct.

Some people even see mathematical problems as a good way to relax and take them away with them on their travels. If you walk along beaches and pool sides whether at home or abroad, it is probable that you will see at least one person testing themselves with a Sudoku puzzle, or some other maths based puzzle.

There is a wealth of opportunities for anyone who is good at maths, it’s simply a skill which will never be superseded.  Only a few weeks ago I met a mathematician who worked for the BBC and spent some of his time designing the graphics I watch when I sit down to watch Match of the Day on BBC iPlayer.

Even when the confines of a cramped maths classroom seem like a distant memory, we still like to test ourselves now and again. Maths, then, can be seen as a pleasurable activity, and not one that we should shy away from. It can be a great way to keep your brain active and stay sharp, provided that the questions aren’t too hard!

Further Reference: Video Link