Financial education: the biggest weapon in our economic arms race with China?

Iona Bain

Britain will fall badly behind in the global economy unless the next generation is equipped to compete with young Chinese entrepreneurs, a leading figure from the financial industry has argued.

Charles Beazley, incoming chairman at private equity advisor MVision, warned that the Asian world posed a very real threat to British jobs and opportunities due to its business-focused education system.

Speaking at a recent House of Lords event, Mr Beazley questioned Britain’s traditional emphasis on subjects such as home economics and woodwork at the expense of financial education, which he said was as essential as “being taught how to cross the road”.

He added: “It is estimated that 61 per cent of the world’s population is now based in Asia, so if you don’t think young people in China aren’t coming after your jobs and your opportunities, you’re wrong. Their sheer desire to get on in the world, to do the best they possibly can would shatter your thoughts, shatter your whole world.

“Teaching children about work, capital and investment provides the greatest possible social benefit. There is now a movement in this country towards making young people understand they can have that economic impact.”

Mr Beazley, formerly chief executive of Tokyo-based Nikko Asset Management, was appearing as a guest of honour at the House of Lords summer showcase hosted by financial education charity MyBnk.

Mr Beazley told the charity: “What you are doing is not just important to young people, it is important to the whole country.”

MyBnk has told the Young Money Blog that it is preparing to release statistics showing just how much financial education boosts young people’s “skills, knowledge and confidence”.

Recent statistics published by ifs University College showed girls are receiving less financial education than boys due to gaps in provision at academies across England, where the subject is not compulsory, and marked gender differences in business/economic studies above the age of 16.

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