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Financial literacy education could help to steer Bermudians towards good careers

Key knowledge: a little guidance on financial life planning at a young age could reap great benefits for our society

In the latest in our Focus on Financial Literacy for Life Success 2022, a regular monthly feature, we consider the comments in a recent column in The Royal Gazette.

One of the last comments in the article, written by Christopher Famous, was: “Flowery words won’t change the fact that we have fewer and fewer Bermudians able to work as skilled tradespersons.

“The stark reality is that no matter what opportunities are available for training in our high schools and at the Bermuda College, unless our young people are constantly encouraged to take up these courses and supported along the way, we will have near-empty classrooms.”

These two sentences illuminate the serious concern and frustration of the author.

Unsaid too, are anecdotal undercurrents that some of the best, the most determined, focused on the future, the brightest are leaving, have left, or will not return to enhance Bermuda’s workforce.

First, we certainly must recognise and applaud the enormous positive support efforts that are already in place from many local, and international organisations to assist, upgrade, incentivise young and mature individuals in enhancing their workforce skills to attain career uplifts and financial security.

The list below represents just some of the many, many organisations and individuals that offer help, tutoring, courses, internships, scholarships, support, and other learning incentives –

• Bermuda Insurance Institute, now with contemplated absorption in the Bermuda College course offerings

• Bermuda CPA Association

• Accounting and auditing firms

• Local and international law firms

• Banks and financial services firms

• The international business community and their associations, notably Abir, Biltir and Abic

• Chartered Financial Analysts (CFA) Society Bermuda.

• The Bermuda Reading Clinic

• The Bermuda Sloop Foundation

• Pocketchangebda

• Bermuda Economic Development Corporation, led by Erica Smith, executive director, promoting, assisting, and developing local entrepreneurs and business start-ups

• Minister Jason Hayward’s Bermuda Government Department of Workforce Development – Career Readiness Programme and others.

All of these efforts are so well intended, furthermore, the proof of numerous fantastic results are routinely announced in many local media articles about successful candidates in various career fields.

So, why are we not reaching more young people? Which groups are not hearing, seeing, realising the life-changing potential of these enhanced career skill support programmes?

I suggest that the positive message of developing financial literacy – that is really financial life planning – the exposure to and learnt ability to use finance knowledge needs to start at a very early age – and with the correlation of supporting adults.

Bermuda is not alone in these concerns; financial literacy for life success is a recognised global problem.

Let’s review research data verifying the overall message in the most recent OECD-PISA global results of 2018 (the tests are only conducted every three years – 2021 delayed due to Covid), the US, UK, and Canada, whom we resemble the most, are included!

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development is an intergovernmental economic organisation, now with 38 member countries, and was founded in 1961 (replacing the Marshall Plan) to stimulate economic progress and world trade.

Their mantra “better policies for better lives”, endorses the founding principle of the prior organisation that declared “their economic systems are interrelated and that the prosperity of each of them depends on the prosperity of all”.

How’s Life? their Better Life Index allows you to compare wellbeing across countries, based on 11 topics the OECD has identified as essential, in the areas of material living conditions and quality of life. https://tinyurl.com/4yatp9r7

The Programme for International Student Assessment PISA is an international study that was launched by the OECD in 1997, and now covers over 80 countries. Every three years the PISA survey provides comparative data on 15-year-olds' performance in reading, mathematics, and science and what they can do with what they know.

It provides the most comprehensive and rigorous international assessment of student learning outcomes to date where the results indicate the quality and equity of learning outcomes attained around the world, and allow educators and policymakers to learn from the policies and practices applied in other countries.

Performance test scores indicate some surprising evidence. The most advanced countries in the Western world’s 15-year old scores were not at the top of the list, but various Far Eastern countries, such as Singapore, consistently are. Singapore has had a governmental mandate for superior, free education programmes for all since the 1960s.

Financial literacy test results are even more important.

In its third time, PISA assessed 15-year-old students’ ability to face real-life situations involving financial issues and decisions with results indicating that many struggle with financial literacy. https://tinyurl.com/2p8aap4r

Some 117,000 15‑year-olds took part in the test, which evaluated the knowledge and skills of teenagers as regards money matters and personal finance – such as dealing with bank accounts and debit cards, understanding interest rates on a loan, choosing between a variety of mobile phone plans, and more financial problem-solving, not just answering quizzes.

PISA also examines various money-related aspects of students’ lives, describing their money-related attitudes and behaviours and digital financial activities.

Only one in ten students performs at the highest level of financial literacy, on average across OECD countries and economies; this 10 per cent group of students are able to make financial decisions in contexts that will only become relevant to them later in life.

The message is clear and it is being heard.

We all need to do more.

In the US, the state of Ohio, with more than 600 school districts, is now the tenth US state to require mandatory financial literacy courses. https://tinyurl.com/5bwdhuvc

Canada has ramped up. Financial literacy programmes and training. https://tinyurl.com/bdejmb33

UK FT survey recognised the dramatic lack-of-financial-literacy problem. In September 2021, The Financial Times Financial Literacy and Inclusion Campaign (FT FLIC) unveiled its strategic plan to boost the financial literacy of young people, women, and disadvantaged communities. https://ftflic.com/

Readers, much more to come! Bermuda needs a national mandate for financial literacy.

This is my mantra this year, next year, and onward. Financial (life planning) literacy for everyone. Webinars, podcasts, digital and print books, interviews, success stories and more.

Anyone wishing to help me with this project FINLIT-BERMUDA™, please contact me at martha.myron@gmail.com

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Published January 08, 2022 at 8:00 am (Updated January 10, 2022 at 8:03 am)

Financial literacy education could help to steer Bermudians towards good careers

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