Pensions - Articles - Nine in ten school leavers unsure what a pension actually is

Pensions can be a confusing topic for people of any age, however, with shocking new statistics revealing that nine in ten (88%) UK school leavers don’t know what a pension is, it is no surprise that experts are calling for the new Secretary of State for Education, the Rt Hon Gavin Williamson CBE MP, to incorporate more financial education into the school curriculum.

 With the new school year in sight, research by pensions advice specialist, Portafina, delved into the world of financial education and revealed that nearly half of school leavers wish they had been taught about pensions1.
 The top five financial topics those aged 18-24 wish they had learnt at school are:
 1. What council tax is and how to pay it (53%)
 2. What a pension is and how it will benefit your future (47%)
 3. Different saving methods (42%)
 4. How to understand interest rates (36%), what a mortgage is and how to apply (36%)
 5. Basic money management e.g. budgeting (31%)
 More than nine in ten (92%) of those fresh out of education believe that they would be in a better financial position if they were to have been taught about finances in school, and 94% of parents believe that schools should be teaching their children more financial skills.
 Commenting on the current school curriculum, Sue, a secondary school math’s teacher from Kent, said: “The current GCSE mathematics curriculum contains no financial content. At no point are schools directed to teach anything specifically relating to finances.”
 With two thirds2 (66%) of UK adults unsure whether they will have enough saved in their pension at the current State Pension age of 65 to maintain the national living wage in retirement, it seems the current school curriculum is not providing people with sufficient knowledge to prepare for their financial future.
 Jamie Smith-Thompson, Managing Director of Portafina, commented: “What is frustrating to see from these results is a desire from the younger generations to learn about real life money scenarios and to be fully equipped with the right financial skills and knowledge to take them into adulthood. While nothing is being done by the government to support them with the important financial education they want and need.
 “The current financial climate is having a huge impact on them now. And it makes delivering the vital message of the importance of saving for their future even more urgent. This is something schools could really help with, and it could have a massive impact on the financial future of our country. Especially with pension poverty.
 “The issue of financial education in schools needs addressing urgently by the new Secretary of State for Education, yet making it a part of the curriculum looks like an empty gesture if teachers are not given the time and tools they need to make lessons successful.
 “The government has an obligation to equip the next generation with the right financial skills to navigate life. And they need to do this now, regardless of what happens with Brexit.”

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