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Annie Hayes



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Lack of skills cost £1.45 billion a year


Workers are missing out on a whopping £1.45 billion a year because numeracy and literacy skills are inadequate.

Learndirect, which provides numeracy and literacy skills training and qualifications, recently launched the ME-Q Index, which shows how much money Brits are losing year on year due to inadequate maths and english, comparing towns and cities across the UK. The amount of money lost last year overall (£1.45 billion) is a significant increase on the previous year’s report.

The struggle to check bills, calculate tips or figure out the best deals for mobile phone tariffs adds up, according to the report.

Of those surveyed, Stoke on Trent was the town where people lost the most (£88 per head – more than two and a half times the national average) while on a regional level greater London fared worst (£74), and Leeds was the city to lose least (£11). Almost 100,000 people admitted to losing more than a £1,000 last year due to basic skills issues like bill miscalculations; adding or taking away VAT or the multiplication/division involved in working out foreign currency when abroad.

However, while billions are being lost due to poor basic skills, Brits seem to find it hard to admit to problems with maths and English and almost a fifth won’t use their spare time to brush up. They are far more likely to spend a day watching TV than refreshing their skills.

In response to the findings, learndirect is urging the 7 million people across the UK who have a basic skills need, to make a change.

Sally Coady, learndirect spokesperson, said: “This research demonstrates the effects of the skills gap in the UK very clearly with the huge financial cost. A lack of maths and English skills can really hit you in the pocket but there is also a cost to people’s confidence. Some people will go to great lengths to avoid using their maths and English and it can hold them back in many areas from advancing their careers or helping their kids with homework. We are urging people to spend a few hours a week on improving their skills.”

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Annie Hayes


Read more from Annie Hayes

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