Education and Skills
We harness the power of education to drive opportunity for those from lower socio-economic backgrounds.
Our vision is to drive opportunity in disadvantaged communities across the UK, to ensure where you’re from, or your background, does not dictate your life chances. We’re committed to supporting the next generation to develop the skills they need to succeed.
Literacy, numeracy and essential skills are fundamental to young people’s future success and ensuring there’s a diverse and empowered workforce of the future. Yet, in the UK, approximately half the adult population have the math ability of an 11 year-old1 and over three-quarters of a million children do not have access to books.2 That’s why we are using our convening power to effect change across these key building blocks of social mobility. From collaborating with the Marcus Rashford Book Club, to helping develop green and digital skills, equipping young people with essential skills3, and being the founding supporter of the award-winning National Numeracy Day. Everything we do helps to build a fairer future for young people.
1) National Numeracy: A new approach to making the UK numerate
2) One in seven state primary schools does not have a designated library space | National Literacy Trust
3) The Skills Builder Partnership
Literacy is one of the key building blocks of social mobility and ensuring that every young child in society has equal opportunity to thrive is essential if we are to build a fairer and more prosperous society for all.Rachel Hopcroft / Partner and Head of Corporate Affairs.
According to the National Literacy Trust’s (NLT) ninth annual reading survey of children, daily reading levels are at the lowest ever recorded, with just over 25% of children saying they read daily in their free time.1 Poor literacy skills hold people back.
Together, KPMG and the NLT founded the award winning2 Vision for Literacy Business Pledge to champion much needed change. Established in 2015, today 97 leading businesses have publicly committed to help close the nation’s literacy gap and boost social mobility.3
We’ve also collaborated with the NLT and the Marcus Rashford Book Club to give more children the gift of reading. During 2022, we donated over 75,000 books to communities with the lowest literacy levels. Our book donations are themed around a specific topic, such as the environment, racial and gender equality, and mental health, helping children and young people to better understand the world around them.
My son came home from school so excited about receiving the book and has been reading it, telling family members about it and, honestly, we the parents were excited too. Thank you so much for thinking of this great idea and for all you do to make a difference in children.Eden / Parent of child at a school participating in the Marcus Rashford Book Club.
In January 2022, the inaugural National Literacy Trust Business Awards, in association with KPMG, were held to recognise business contributions to raising literacy levels across the UK through innovation, impact, leadership and collaboration – providing an important platform to recognise contributions and share best practice which is more important than ever since the pandemic.
As well as leading literacy campaigns, we take action at a grassroots level. Working with Tutor Mate, KPMG colleagues use a specially designed virtual platform to support primary school children develop their literacy skills. This virtual platform enables us to connect colleagues with children in social mobility coldspots such as Bradford, Middlesbrough and Glasgow. Independent evaluation shows that the TutorMate intervention improves both reading attainment and enjoyment and results are particularly strong for the students with the lowest ability levels.4
With TutorMate, I was able to support the essential literacy skills of a primary school student through weekly fun and interactive reading sessions. The weekly improvements in both their confidence and reading skills was the most rewarding part of the programme.Ilesha Karia / Manager, KPMG in the UK & TutorMate volunteer
The UK lags at 18th position in OECD rankings for maths.1 Nearly half of the UK’s working population has the expected numeracy level of a primary school child.2 Not only does this have real consequences for the individuals concerned – leaving them more vulnerable to debt, unemployment or fraud – but it severely hinders Britain’s productivity too. Poor numeracy is estimated to cost our economy a staggering £25 billion a year,3 so this is as much a business issue as it is a societal one.
Together with charity National Numeracy, KPMG founded National Numeracy Day in 2018. As the UK’s only day dedicated to raising awareness of the importance of numeracy in everyday life, it inspires people to build their confidence with numbers, whether that’s managing household budgets, applying for a new job or helping children with homework.
Since its inception, the campaign has inspired 650,000 actions to improve numeracy skills and has helped to surface the national debate about a culture of math’s anxiety that holds the nation back when it comes to productivity and social mobility.
The fifth National Numeracy Day took place on 18 May 2022 and saw more than 450,000 actions taken to improve numeracy skills. The campaign garnered support from 4,800 organisations including leading consumer brands, schools and colleges, as well as HM Treasury, the Department for Work and Pensions and the Department for Education. KPMG volunteers supported 2,000 students at schools across the UK through ‘Numeracy at Work’ panels, 33% of which were in social mobility cold spots, opportunity areas or Education Investment Areas.4
1) Pisa tests: UK rises in international school rankings - BBC News
2) National Numeracy: A new approach to making the UK numerate
3) New research: “Numeracy crisis” could be costing the UK up to £25 billion a year | National Numeracy
4) National Numeracy Day Impact Report 2022
Launched in September 2021 with the support of the then Chancellor of Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, the National Numeracy Leadership Council brings together leading businesses to accelerate action on poor numeracy. Bina Mehta, Chair, KPMG in the UK, is an inaugural member of the Council and together, members are building sustained and collective effort across business, government and every aspect of civil society to tackle this issue.
A young person who has four or more meaningful encounters with an employer is 86% less likely to be unemployed or NEET (not in education or training) and can earn up to 22% more during their careers.1
The Net Zero economy is going to bring about an unprecedented demand for ‘green skills.’ Ensuring that the green jobs revolution is fair and inclusive is important to us as we expand our education future work skills programme. We’re working with schools in areas of low social mobility to build students’ ‘sustainability mindset’ and help prepare and excite them for the changing world of work.
In the 2021-22 academic year, we worked with the Economist Educational Foundation to support students develop critical thinking, literacy and numeracy skills around the world’s biggest challenge: climate change. Over 16,000 students took part, with a further 1,000 students engaging in online Topical Talk debates, supported by KPMG volunteers.
In collaboration with The Talent Foundry, and delivered exclusively in social mobility coldspots, Opportunity Areas and areas of high deprivation, our flagship employability programme, WorkReady, has educated more than 19,000 students (2013-2022) about the changing world of work through developing their digital literacy and green skills. Using the Skills Builder framework, the programme opens their eyes to the importance of digital fluency, adaptability and transferable skills - such as creativity and problem solving – while developing solutions to environmental issues faced by businesses and their clients today.
To mark COP27 in November 2022, schools across the UK joined our “Inspiring Positive Climate Action” broadcast. The session gave an insight into insights from the COP27 event and advice on the action young people can take to tackle the climate crisis. Students took part in a sustainability challenge where they presented an environmental sustainability project plan, showing the action their school is taking to help tackle climate change. We awarded the winning schools with a cash prize to help them put their plans into action.
According to research conducted by Tech Nation, the UK technology workforce is broadly made up of 81% men, and 19% women.2 KPMG’s IT’s Her Future Juniors Programme encourages girls to explore a career in technology. By engaging teachers and parents, it also helps educate the influencers about the opportunities for girls in technology, which helps to build a pipeline of diverse talent. KPMG’s Cyber Savvy programme also aims to educate the next generation on how to navigate an ever-changing digital environment.
Thousands of school children and KPMG colleagues came together to learn about Cloud computing as part of our KPMG Cloud Curious challenge in November 2021. Our KPMG Cloud Curious tutorial was watched by over 10,000 secondary school pupils in social mobility coldspots across the UK, successfully setting a new Guinness World Record in the process and raising over £13,000 for Marie Curie, our national charity partner.
Well done to our brilliant Cloud Engineers who came up with this tech challenge idea and brought it to life. What I love is that not only did our colleagues get to learn about the Cloud together we also raised a substantial sum for charity and brought Cloud knowledge to so many school children at the same time.Lisa Heneghan / Global Chief Digital Officer, KPMG International
Improving the diversity of our profession is a business imperative as well as a social one and building that pipeline of talent starts in schools. In December 2021, we came together with our peers in five of the Big accountancy firms in founding the RISE Initiative. Through RISE, our volunteers support young people in social mobility coldspots to develop essential skills and better understand career pathways into our industry. Last year, we collectively supported 2,810 young people, and since its launch a further 16 professional services firms3 have joined the initiative enabling us to reach even more young people.
1) The Careers and Enterprise Company – Gatsby Benchmark
2) Tech Nation insights
3) ICAEW news release