Count us in: Quantitative skills for a new generation

Count us in: Quantitative skills for a new generation

The ability to understand and interpret data is an essential feature of life in the 21st century: vital for the economy, for our society and for us as individuals. The ubiquity of statistics makes it vital that citizens, scientists and policy makers are fluent with numbers. Data analysis is revolutionising both how we see the world and how we interact with it.

This new report from the British Academy offers a vision of how the UK can rise to the potentially transformational challenge of becoming a data-literate nation. Count Us In calls for a cultural change across all phases of education and employment, together with a concerted, continuous national effort led by government.

Download the report here:


Transforming people’s understanding of numbers, data and statistics offers a huge prize for this country.

A huge economic prize, as the UK becomes a world leader in the processing of statistical information through the coming data revolution.

A huge jobs prize: 58,000 each year to 2017.

A huge prize for our universities, as researchers take advantage of the data revolution.

And a huge prize for individual citizens and consumers, as they become empowered to make better-informed choices.

We have a vision for a fully data-literate UK population, able to engage with data and the world in which we live actively and intelligently.

A UK where our schools and colleges ensure our young people have a strong grasp of numbers from their earlier years.

Where our universities develop the quantitative skills of those students further, while fully immersing themselves in the potential of data facilitated research.

A UK where our workplaces are staffed by data-literate employees, and employers are supported by government and universities to build quantitative skills.

And a UK-wide system for organising and measuring the improvement of quantitative skills across education, government and the workplace.

But there is work to be done. England and Northern Ireland are only middle ranking among industrialised nations when it comes to mathematics attainments in secondary education.

Too often, our universities are having to modify degree courses in a non-quantitative direction because of weaknesses of students, and staff, in quantitative skills.

And in the workplace, much research suggests that many employees fail to understand fully the quantitative techniques they are using.

We need to tackle these problems. School curricula need to be subject to continuous, strategic review. Pupils must be encouraged to continue to study maths beyond the age of 16.

At university, the skills of both students and teachers should be addressed. Universities should review and, if necessary, rewrite course content to develop students’ quantitative skills.

And employers, universities and the government must work together to facilitate the improvement of data skills.

A facility with numbers and statistics can revolutionise the way in which we view the world.

With the right game plan, the UK can play a leading role in catalysing this revolution.

Within a generation, we could and should be producing citizens, consumers, students and workers as comfortable with numbers as they are with words.