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Workplace maths skills

Workplace maths skills

Workplace maths skills

AAMT in partnership with the Australian Industry Group, and support from the Office of the Chief Scientist, has undertaken a project to investigate the mathematics needed by today’s workers. This collaboration reflects the need for educators to work with industry to solve the skills issues that confront Australian society.

The Quantitative Skills in 21st Century Workplaces project undertook research to identify and analyse the gaps between young peoples’ quantitative skills in the senior years of schooling and the expectations of 21st century workplaces.

Mathematics teachers were supported to work shadow young workers to identify the actual mathematical and problem solving skills in a range of diverse workplaces. The intention was to identify specific matches and mismatches between what is happening in schools and what is needed in workplaces. The teachers undertook some work-shadowing and interviews to develop case studies of quantitative thinking in action in local workplaces.

Key Messages

The application of mathematics in the workplace is not straightforward and goes beyond a command
of ‘core’ or basic mathematical content. Workers perform sophisticated functions which require confidence to identify, use and apply mathematical skills in problem-solving situations and knowledge of the consequences of the procedures. Workers need a blend of the following:

• ability to recognise and identify how and when mathematics is used in the workplace;

• an understanding of mathematical concepts, procedures and skills;

• an understanding of the kinds of practical tasks they need to perform; and

• the strategic processes they should be able to use in using and applying mathematics.

There is a gap in the ability of young people to integrate these skills in the workplace. Current school teaching approaches generally emphasise these
skills separately. Building these capacities through mathematics connects strongly with the general work on ‘executive functions’ that is emerging as important in preparing young people for work.

Documents available

Three documents are available if you would like to read more about the project findings.

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Name Class Section
Document Quantitive Skills Project Summary File 1
Document Quantitative Skills Final Report File 1
Document Quantitative Skills Map File 1