962 – curmudgeoning ourselves to poverty

I got proper cross at the Today programme yesterday morning.

John Humphrys was interviewing experts on maths learning, pointing out that we need to get better at thinking mathematically.

17 million adults have primary-school levels of maths. John was almost proudly adding himself to the 17 million.¬†“Does everyone need to be a mathematician? I don’t have any problems, I can get along” he says.

He’s then presented with OECD data – good numeracy is best protection against unemployment, low wages and poor health; numeracy has a 26% premium on salary, and is a good indicator of lower mortgage default.

And yet he carries on being a contrary bugger. (God bless Mishal Hussein for pointing out all the statistical stories they have to work their way through).

Unemployment is as much about skills shortage and skills fit, and while software carries on eating the jobs of yesteryear it’s just irresponsible to carry on acting as though this doesn’t matter. The media genuinely is talking down the economy here, and it doesn’t even understand it’s doing so.

Have a listen – fifty minutes in.

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