Basic Skills Could Boost UK Economy by Trillions


A new report from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development found that the UK economy could make an additional $3.6 trillion each year if every student in the country mastered the basic level of skills in both math and science.

The report ranks the UK 20th out of 76 nations in terms of its students’ ability to master basic subjects, scoring an average of 504 on international math and science exams.  Slovenia, Poland, Vietnam and Estonia all came in ahead of the UK on the tests.  Singapore came in first with an average score of 562.5.

About 20% of 15-year-olds in the country, or 1 in 5, are currently below the minimum standard with regard to their math and science skills.

If all students in the UK were to reach a basic skills level by 2030, an additional $3.65 trillion would be added to the economy by 2095.  The report continues to say that if every student in the country increased their math and science skills by 1.67 points each year until 2030, the economy would net an additional $8.653 trillion, writes Richard Garner for The Independent.

However, Andreas Schleicher, special adviser on education policy at the OECD, said in order to reach the level of other European countries, the UK would need to improve the education situation in the country “quickly.”

“The increase in wealth among the high income countries (from universal basic skills) is greater than what they have to spend on education (to achieve it).  If we only did a decent job in schools education would be free for everyone, We would generate a lot more income that what we lost by not doing a decent job,” said Schleicher.

Schleicher added that improving education was a much more solid way to lead developing nations and increase the nation’s economy, rather than simply relying on printing additional money, reports Javier Espinoza for The Telegraph.

“We can only grow ourselves out of bad economic conditions and, in the long run, that depends more than anything on equipping more people with better skills to collaborate, compete and connect in ways that drive our societies forward – and on using those skills productively.  The first thing the results show is that the quality of schooling in a country is a powerful predictor of the wealth that countries will produce in the long run.”

According to the study, nine of the 76 countries, including Ghana, Honduras, South Africa, Morocco, Indonesia, Peru, Qatar, Colombia and Botswana, reported over 75% of its students not meeting the basic skills level.  Meanwhile, the top scoring countries, including Singapore, Hong Kong, Estonia and Korea, had the same result for less than 10% of students.