Teachers and parents’ low level prejudice of financial services as a career, possibly caused by poor numeracy skills and a fear of numbers, is contributing to young people’s lack of understanding of sector according to a new CISI YouGov survey.
Young people’s low opinion of financial services as a career is being influenced by a generation of teachers and parents whose lack of understanding of the sector has possibly been shaped by their own poor levels of numeracy and fear of numbers, according to a survey.
The Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment (CISI) asked YouGov to survey* parents, teachers and young people’s attitudes towards the financial services profession.
Asked their views on what they would associate with a typical day in financial services, 53% of young people thought it would be “boring”, while 50% felt it would be “full of numbers”. Only 24% of young people surveyed felt they had any understanding of jobs in the financial services.
Less than half of secondary school teachers surveyed said they discuss financial services as a career option for their pupils (44%) but this varied across the country, with 60% of teachers in the East discussing the sector, compared with just 34% in the North.
The CISI/YouGov survey supports the Money Advice Service (MAS) report published in June 2012 which showed that parents in particular are key influencers on attitudes and behaviour between the ages of 5 to 12.
Although the MAS report focuses on personal financial decision-making, the correlation between the understanding of financial services in general is clear; this latest CISI/YouGov research shows that 66% of primary school teachers have little or no understanding of the financial services profession which will therefore have potentially negative consequences if the key age group they are teaching,
5-12 years, are where attitudes towards personal finance are formed.
In addition, according to the CISI/YouGov survey, the other key influencer on this age group, parents, on the whole, have a lack of understanding about financial services, with only 23% saying their comprehension of the sector was “strong” or “fair”.
Simon Cuhane, Chartered FCSI and CISI Chief Executive said:
“Poor numeracy skills on the part of both adults and young people in the UK are creating a vicious circle and an inherent fear of numbers. This, in turn, seems to be contributing to a low level prejudice against financial services as a career amongst young people’s key influencers, teachers and parents.
“If the same CISI/YouGov survey was conducted amongst the same audience in China, would the results be the same? Are they as relaxed about weak numeracy skills as we are? The 2012 OECD PISA survey of 15-16 year olds showed that Shanghai-China had the highest scores in maths, equivalent to nearly three years of schooling above the OECD average. The UK was in 26th place on this list of 64 countries."
The 2012 Pro Bono Economics Report on National Numeracy for the National Audit Office also indicates that poor numeracy costs the UK economy £20.2bn a year.
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