04/07/2013 06:24 BST

GCSE Maths Skills Are Not Enough For The Workplace, Study Finds

New research says GCSE Maths doesn't give young people enough for the workplace

New research has found that GCSE maths is not providing young people with what they need in the workplace.

While the current curriculum covers the maths concepts they will need in the working world, it does not teach them how to apply what they have learned, a study published by the Sutton Trust suggested.

It argued it was "crucial" young people were able to use the maths they learned at school in the workplace as the subject was now essential in many jobs.

The Trust is the latest organisation to call for all pupils to continue studying maths up to the age of 18, even if they have a decent GCSE grade in the subject.

A survey of young people suggested that almost two-thirds (64%) believed that studying English and maths up to age 18 was a good idea, the Trust added.

The new study, by researchers at King's College London looked at the type of maths required in the modern workplace.

The findings showed that workers needed a knowledge of concepts such as mental arithmetic, estimation and

approximation and reasoning as well as being able to use calculators and spreadsheets and interpret tables, graphs and diagrams.

In a foreword to the study, Trust chairman Sir Peter Lampl said: "While GCSE maths may equip young people with a basic understanding of key concepts, it will not necessarily provide them with the capacity to apply those concepts in practical situations.

"Such skills are vital in the workplace, as this study shows, but also in a host of university subjects that are not traditionally seen as mathematical, where statistical and chronological skills are vital."

There are many jobs that require an understanding of maths that are not traditionally associated with the subject, the study argued.

For example, a mortgage adviser may need to understand a graph on savings a customer could make, while a nurse needed a knowledge of measurements, such as millilitres and milligrams when administering medicine.

The report suggested a new qualification should be developed for sixth-formers who were not studying A-level maths covering topics such as modelling and statistics.

Education Secretary Michael Gove has previously said that within a decade, he wants to see the vast majority of teenagers studying maths up to the age of 18, and the Government is developing a new set of post-16 qualifications in the subject.

These will be particularly aimed at students who do not want to study A-level maths.

The Sutton Trust's poll of 2,595 11 to 16-year-olds in England and Wales found that overall, 64% were in favour of young people at school or college studying maths and English up to age 18.

Young pupils were more in favour of the idea, with 65% of Year 7 pupils backing the idea, compared to 53% of those in Year 11.

Sir Peter said: "Maths matters too much to cut it off after 16.

"For young people from less affluent backgrounds in particular, their ability to benefit fully from higher education and play a productive role in the workforce will depend on their mathematical competence."

At the moment, around one in five young people in England continue studying maths past the age of 16, compared to other developed nations where the majority of students continue the subject.