According to a new report commissioned by the OECD, the UK economy could enjoy trillions of pounds worth of growth if all school children obtained basic educational skills. Furthermore, equal levels of academic achievement from boys and girls could also help to boost Britain’s economy.
The report uncovered the fact that in England, Scotland and Wales, 20% of pupils lack basic skills in areas such as literacy and numeracy. Across the board boys and girls also achieve uneven results which creates gender gaps. Researchers maintain that if the UK government invests the time and effort into closing these gaps, the economy will reap the benefits over the next 15 years.
Eric Hanushek of Stanford’s Hoover Institution and Ludger Woessmann of the University of Munich are the pair of economists behind the report. Together the duo analysed the international Pisa test rankings of 15 year old students located in 76 different countries. After comparing the UK to other nations the report concluded that leveling minimum levels of academic achievement would boost Britain’s national output by over £2 trillion by 2095. While the costs of doing this would be significant, they would quickly be covered by economic growth.
“The economic output that is lost because of poor education policies and practices leaves many countries in what amounts to a permanent state of economic recession – and one that can be larger and deeper than the one that resulted from the financial crisis,” reads the report. It goes on to argue that if every 15-year achieved basic skills by 2030, “the benefits for economic growth and sustainable development would be enormous.”
When it came to global performance the UK was ranked 20th according to the percentage of the national workforce lacking basic academic and problem solving skills. Asian countries appeared to be the highest performers, with Singapore, Hong Kong and South Korea awarded top rankings. In comparison, two thirds of Ghanaian, Honduran, South African, Moroccan and Indonesian students failed to demonstrate basic skills.
Across the globe, the long term economic gains of an educated workforce are tangible. If the UK wants to tap into the fiscal benefits the government needs to invest the time and financial resources into providing the population with access to high quality schooling. It also needs to take steps to close social and gender gaps within the workforce. Make sure you send your children to the right school which will equip them with essential life skills and ignite their passions.