Mathematical Skills in the Workplace

Celia Hoyles, Alison Wolf and Phillip Kent
School of Mathematics, Science and Technology,
Susan Molyneux-Hodgson (Sheffield University)


Research was undertaken between May 2001 and March 2002 into current requirements for mathematical skills in the workplace. The study was commissioned by the Science Technology and Mathematics Council, now part of the SEMTA Sector Skills Council. A Steering Group oversaw the project, which included representatives of ST+MC, Regional Development Agencies (RDAs), DfES, and QCA.

Seven sectors were identified as the focus of the research, in consultation with representatives from the RDAs and on the basis of a preliminary briefing paper from the research team. All the sectors were identified as high priority by the RDAs, and all English RDAs had at least one of their high priority sectors included in the final list.

The sectors selected were: Electronic Engineering and Optoelectronics, Financial Services, Food Processing, Healthcare, Packaging, Pharmaceuticals, and Tourism

A report was produced based on case studies of three companies or organisations within each sector, supported by previous and related work (including previous research on workplace mathematics carried out by members of the project team) and validation seminars with a wider range of sector representatives.

In agreement with other recent studies, the research concludes that the country needs to rethink and look to upgrade mathematics provision for young people and to ensure that people have access to additional provision over their lifetimes. The reseach findings identify the central importance of what is termed "mathematical literacy" and it is argued that mathematical literacy represents a major skills gap in the present workforce. Mathematical literacy is described in terms of its component skills, its links with the changing context of business and its strong inter-relationship with IT, and is illustrated by reference to examples from case studies from the different sectors studied.

Final research report - June 2002

Download (848 KBytes): Maths-Skills-Workplace-Final-Report.pdf

Summary of the final report

This five page summary was prepared at the request of the QCA Mathematics team, in March 2005.

Download: Summary_Maths_Skills_report_March2005.pdf



 Page updated: 23/06/2008
Techno-mathematical Literacies project

London Knowledge Lab - Institute of Education - University of London