The employment equation: why our young people need more maths for today’s jobs

Document type
Literature review
Hodgen, Jeremy; Marks, Rachel
Sutton Trust
Date of publication
4 July 2013
Education and Skills, Children and Young People, Employment
Social welfare
Material type

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Changes in workplace practices – particularly an increased focus on efficiency measures – have resulted in mathematical application and understanding becoming an essential skill for all people in the workplace, even in relatively unskilled jobs. People in the workplace need to be able to make sense of the mathematics they are using if they are to avoid making mistakes in the workplace. 

This report reviews over 50 research studies to consider the level and type of mathematical skills needed by employers in today’s economy. It considers five key questions:

  • What mathematics (level and content) is required in the workplace today?
  • How and why have the mathematical needs of the workplace changed over time?
  • In what ways is mathematics used in today’s workplace?
  • To what extent do specific workplaces have specific mathematical demands?
  • What are the implications of mathematics use in the workplace for post-16 education?  

It recommends  that all young people should continue to study maths until the age of 18 and for those students not taking A-level mathematics, a new pathway should be developed covering fluency, modelling and statistics.