New programme to boost maths skills of the future

The RSS is delighted to be involved in a new programme that will explore what mathematical, digital and data skills will be needed by employers in the next 20 years – and how the education system should adapt to develop those skills. It will also explore why the majority of girls do not continue with maths post-16, with a view to improving the gender balance in maths.

The two-year programme, Mathematical Futures, is chaired by Sir Martin Taylor and overseen by the Royal Society’s Advisory Committee on Mathematics Education (ACME), in association with the RSS, the London Mathematical Society (LMS) and the Institute of Mathematics and its Applications (IMA). It also has industry support, with Arm, Google and GSK all backing the project.

The RSS has long been concerned that statistical and data analysis will be needed by a far greater range of occupations in the future, and that this means that many areas of the curriculum - not just maths A-levels - will need to face up to this issue. We also believe that data science involves understanding statistics in particular contexts, not just data handling techniques (see, for instance, our statement of support for initiatives such as the International Data Science in Schools Project).

Sharon Witherspoon, RSS vice president for education and statistical literacy, said: ‘Number and data skills will be essential to the workforce of tomorrow, across a wide range of disciplines and occupations. This will require many different paths to deepening and widening the curriculum to promote these skills. We’re delighted to be involved in shaping the future of the curriculum to meet those needs.’

Sir Martin Taylor said: ‘The challenge we all face is that mathematics, statistics, technology and data are rapidly shaping the world we live in, and, particularly, our working lives. That is why it is important to have a workforce that is mathematically and data literate and capable of doing the new jobs that will emerge in the years to come’.

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