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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.”
BBC Australia – Source