Royal Society joins forces with Arm, Google and GSK on programme to boost maths skills for the careers of 2040

10 August 2020

The two-year programme – Mathematical Futures – aims to shape the future of mathematics education by identifying the arithmetical, data and digital skills that will be in high demand by employers in the next 20 years, as well as the skills and training needed by teachers in the classrooms of the future.

It will be chaired by mathematician Sir Martin Taylor FRS and overseen by the Royal Society Advisory Committee on Mathematics Education (ACME), in association with the Royal Statistical Society, the London Mathematical Society, and the Institute of Mathematics and Its Applications. Input will also be sought from sectors including higher education, government and employers in business and industry.

The programme will explore the mathematical skills that will be needed by all citizens to thrive in the future and how education systems should develop those skills. It will consider competencies such as data, statistics, computing and data science that will ensure young people are not only equipped to meet the needs of a technological economy, but are also empowered, well-rounded citizens. It will address the challenges of achieving an improved gender balance in maths and explore why the majority of girls do not continue with maths post-16.

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.

“We are delighted that Arm, Google and GSK are supporting this important project. We need to be working now to shape the future of mathematics education so that all young people see the relevance of maths, both as a subject in its own right and across subject disciplines, whatever job they see themselves doing. This will also need a healthy supply of specialist teachers who are equipped to teach the broad maths and quantitative skills that young people will need to thrive in the world of work.”

“STEM skills play a key role when it comes to technological innovation,” said Khaled Benkrid, senior director, Education and Research at Arm. “The Arm School Program is constantly looking at new ways to support the development of STEM skills. We joined the Royal Society’s project last year and it’s positive to see other science and tech industry leaders become involved. Together, we look forward to enabling more children to develop the mathematical, data and digital skills needed to succeed in a future career in technology.”

"Google is very happy to support this project," said Lynette Webb, a public policy manager at Google. "A strong mathematical education provides a great foundation for dozens of different careers. I'm a maths graduate, and the analytical skills I learned have been invaluable throughout my career. It's given me the mindset to approach challenges logically and methodically, taking a structured approach to problem solving. We're thrilled to team up with The Royal Society as it seeks to equip people with the skills they will need to succeed in their careers over the next two decades and beyond." 

In 2017, Sir Adrian Smith’s review of maths education for 16 to 18-year-olds in England found a great demand for mathematics, quantitative and data skills in the labour market at all levels and of great importance to the future careers of pupils. In 2013, a Royal Society ACME report found that more young people need to know more mathematics and to be confident in using it. The Society’s 2019 Dynamics of Data Science Skills report identified that ensuring the education system provides all young people with data science knowledge and skills will require curriculum change within ten years as a key recommendation.