How could financial education propel young adults into future?

Many school leavers are heading into the world financially unequipped.

With many students across the UK recently receiving their GCSE and A-Level results, the question for all will be the same – what happens next? While there will be many informative conversations on ‘surviving University’ or ‘entering the world of work’, there is a gaping space in the dialogue concerning financial education.

We conducted a survey of personal investors and it revealed that 78% of personal investors received no exposure to financial education as part of their school education whilst only 18% said it was available to them as part of other subjects such as Maths and Economics. The remainder of respondents learned about the subject through their peers.

With school leavers now heading off to University and likely to end their higher education with large debts, the need to financially equip students is essential. Nearly two thirds of the survey’s respondents believe that they would have made more informed money-related decisions if they had received dedicated financial education at school. Thinking further ahead, rising debt amid millennials, combined with accelerating house prices and the lowered saving ratio emphasises that more needs to be done to help give young adults the financial skills they need for life.

Fifteen years ago, recognising this need to financially equip young adults, we set up the real investment competition, Shares4Schools. The national programme introduces sixth form students to the world of finance as they explore the mechanisms of the stock market. The competition acts as an interactive tool for students from over 100 schools to assist learning about finance. During the seven month investment period, students will learn about stocks and shares, dividends, risk assessments as well as developing their research skills as they explore possible companies to invest in.

In addition to forming the basis of knowledge required for real-life situations, an early exposure to financial education has proved to engender the understanding required to initiate a career within the financial sector.

Samuel Burns, who participated in the Shares4Schools competition in 2012, said:

“Participating in the Shares4Schools scheme gave me my first push into my eventual career in finance, and as experiences go S4S felt more like a hobby. I've gone on to work for Deloitte, one of the world's leading financial services providers, and assisted world renowned FTSE100 brands from a financial perspective, and currently on track to be an ACA qualified accountant prior to my 24th birthday. The scheme provided me with a first insight into the financial markets which sparked the interest that would ultimately become my future. I would highly recommend the scheme to everyone; it can provide the platform for future success!”

Schools are invited to register now for the new Shares4Schools competition beginning on 29 October 2018 and they will need to form teams of year 12 students to enter. Each team will start the competition with an investment pot of £2,000. Schools will need to raise the initial £1,000 and then The Share Centre will match the other £1,000.