With no foreseeable end to the economic crisis and youth unemployment on the rise there is no better time to be discussing the important issue of financial education for young people.
One issue which has garnered support across all three parties is that of improving social mobility. Encouraging and enabling people to participate in society matters for social justice and for economic growth. Politicians across the board agree that every person should be able to achieve their potential and maximise the opportunities available to them.
When thinking about education many people fall in to the trap of thinking ‘literacy and numeracy’. No one is denying that these two skills are essential in preparing young people for life and employment. However, currently there is a lack of joined up thinking on giving young people the fundamental skills they will need on as soon as they leave full time education, such as, how to manage their money. The mandate of education is to ‘prepare pupils for life’. What could be more relevant than teaching them about money?
Giving young people the skills and knowledge to manage their finances will enable them to participate fully in society, live independently and become an informed and critical consumer.
pfeg (the Personal Finance Education Group) have been campaigning for 12 years for financial education to be a compulsory element of the National Curriculum and embedded in to Initial Teacher Training courses. The subject already has a huge amount of support from the finance, education and third sectors. The launch of the hugely successful APPG on Financial Education for Young People in 2011, which now has 225 members making it the largest in parliament, the issue now has significant support across all the political parties.
With the Department for Education looking to review and ‘streamline’ the curriculum and many single issue groups pushing their issues forward for consideration it’s easy to see that the curriculum is already a crowded and contentious space. At this point it’s important to recognise what skills young people in education feel they need. In a recent survey conducted by pfeg and Young NCB (National Children’s Bureau) 93% of young people surveyed agreed that teaching students in secondary schools about managing their money should be a compulsory part of the curriculum.
With 2012 promising an announcement on the new look National Curriculum it is imperative that we keep financial education at the top of the political agenda and all of those who have lent their name to the cause keep shouting about it.
pfeg are holding fringe events, entitled Financial Education: Let’s Make it Count, at the Labour and Conservative conferences this year, do come along and join the discussion.