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College puts on courses to improve numeracy skills in the workplace

STAFF looking to improve their numeracy skills are turning to employers to put on courses in the workplace.

Many are wanting to improve their skills at a variety of levels, with some employers looking to provide training tailor-made around budgeting and finance, general workplace numeracy skills or basic courses designed to improve those who do not have the skills levels required to progresss their careers.

Government statistics suggest up to 17 million adults – 49 per cent of the working-age population of England – only have maths skills equivalent to those of primary schoolchildren

Now adults in Milton Keynes who feel they need support with their numeracy skills can take advantage of free Multiply courses being offered by Milton Keynes College in partnership with Milton Keynes City Council.

And companies can get involved too, by putting forward staff members for the training.  Funding has come from the government’s Levelling Up Fund.

“Once they have been away from school for a while, people often do not like to admit that they experience difficulties with everyday numeracy skills,” said Di Cook, project director for adult learning at Milton Keynes College. “It can be such a barrier to getting on in life but just because someone struggled to get to grips with the subject at school does not mean they cannot pick it up successfully in later life if they have the courage to come forward for help.”

The college has already received considerable interest from companies with employees wanting to have courses put on in the workplace.

“Sometimes employers want something tailormade around budgeting or finance to support their staff in their personal lives, especially in the current climate or they want to develop work related numeracy skills to support individuals to be able to progress in the workplace,” Ms Cook said.  “Sometimes businesses want to offer functional skills courses to staff as they have people who wish to undertake internal apprenticeships as candidates can be held back because they don’t have the required skills in maths.”

People signing up for the courses do not have to commit to taking exams if they do not feel ready for it, especially if they have been out of education for some time and need help getting back into the habit of learning.  “It does not have to be about sitting a test or exam. The important thing is helping people to develop skills which will make them more confident and their lives easier,” said Ms Cook.

“Sometimes people approach us just because they cannot help their kids with their maths homework and want to be able to do more but some want to get a qualification to support them in career or educational progression.”

Having usable maths skills is not merely for doing the weekly shop or helping with homework.  The evidence shows it improves social mobility, self-esteem and job prospects, she added.

Milton Keynes City Council is keen to support those looking to improve their life opportunities and is already delivering courses aimed at helping residents to improve their understanding of household budgeting, money management and homework.

“It is an incredible and very welcome opportunity for local adults to get the maths support that may have been denied to them in their earlier years,” said Suzanne Gibbs, curriculum manager for the Multiply courses at the council. “We also intend to help our local community make sense of data that is often included in news stories which could further enrich their lives as they can then make better informed decisions.”

The training sessions will take place during the day or in the evening, improving both confidence levels and career prospects, she added. “We aim to teach the confidence to embrace and engage with Maths.  There are no exams – instead, just a better understanding of how maths works.”

Applicants must be adults aged 19 or over and not already have GCSE Grade C or 4 in maths (or an equivalent qualification).

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