Don't fear maths!

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Is maths something we should be scared of? Is it something that we either understood or didn't when we were at school and something that we have never had to consider again? I work in financial services where maths is a basic requirement, and the usual minimum level requirement is GCSE level grade C or grade 4/5 under the new grading system. However even this is an industry that is awakening to the need for apprentices and the need for training and enhancing knowledge and with this there is the need for maths training.  

Consider this, how many times have you heard someone say that they are no good at maths? This is not considered to be an issue and to say you can't work out a percentage or a fraction of a number is just something "you don't get". And this is OK because we don't believe that we can work it out and does it really matter? I mean who has used a log or Cos or bracketed algebraic calculation since leaving school? 

But then who uses percentages and fractions day to day? Well we all do. Consider shopping and looking for discounts, working out mile per litre when driving and working out change. There are many courses available face to face and online to help and these will work using examples of day to day situations, for example, using the calculation to work out which offer at the supermarket is the better deal.  

Functional Skills are a great way to review and refresh your maths ability and to give you confidence to work with figures are a standard that is required for various courses and qualifications. Having worked with some vocational trainees I have been able to see the difference that an understanding of the underlying basic maths formulas can make, the realisation that when you see an item for 15% discount how much off that will be, or how to work out the area of a wall in relation to the amount of paint needed to cover it or the distances between two points and the total distance to travel. All practical everyday uses for maths and all worked on basic formulas that once understood can meet many different situations. 

We all have phones that will do these calculations for us, not to mention calculators, spreadsheets and of course pen and paper, but if we don't know which order to put the figures in will we get the right answer and will recognise if the figure is right or wrong? And this is where there are so many ways to improve our ability at this skill. This is a skill that can be life changing!

Consider the world around us and how much of this is there because of maths. Something as basic as flour has been produced throughout the centuries by grinding grain down between two stones but once this was mechanised then maths played an important part. The size of the stones, the number of gears, the number of teeth on each cog, the number of stones worked by one mill, and this would regulate the production of the flour, every town in the UK had a mill and a miller and the miller would have their apprentice who would learn the numbers and the figures. Not so much different to today.          

So maths has always been important and remains so, and will continue to be a major part of our lives and with the continuing digital expansion of the world it is important that we have the availability of support to help us to develop and enhance our understanding and knowledge of maths. Unionlearn is there to help to do this. 

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Andy Taylor

Andy works for Origen financial Services as a paraplanner and has been a ULR with Aegis for 6 years. Within his ULR role, he has helped with Functional Skills training in maths and English.

He is also qualified to assess in business administration.