Adult numeracy and financial education in the workplace

We have written much on the topic of financial education in the workplace during the past six years – and indeed have added to this catalogue in recent weeks as well. So we were not expecting to write much more on this subject for a little while. That is until one of our team attended a presentation last week on pensions, which also provided some rather shocking nuggets of information around UK adult numeracy levels.

The presentation was delivered by the respected Pensions Policy Institute, and included the following facts that may concern employers more than a little:

  • Four in five UK adults have a low level of numeracy (below GCSE grade C level)
  • A third of adults do not understand the impact of inflation on purchasing power and (most shockingly)
  • Nearly one in five people cannot correctly identify the balance in a bank statement

What these figures clearly demonstrate is that a large slice of the UK adult population (and, by extension, therefore the UK workforce) may really struggle with fairly routine tasks when seeking to manage their finances. Follow this to a logical conclusion and this suggests that many people will struggle to control their spending, and are therefore more likely to get into debt.

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As we have covered many times both here and in our Jelf Employment Seminars, this has real implications for the health and wellbeing of the individual and their family. And of course this is a problem for employers also with attendance rates, engagement, and productivity all potentially damaged by personal financial distractions.

The bottom line is that many employees really do need some assistance in this area, and the employer has a very strong reason for making certain that this is provided. We would therefore urge many more employers to look again at this key issue.