The pensions minister said: “With auto-enrolment now having an effect on many smaller employers as well as larger companies, it is of vital importance that the future workforce understands how to make essential financial decisions, particularly when it comes to saving for a pension.”
Mr Webb was speaking at the launch of the Money Matters programme, a pilot initiative launched by pensions administrator RPMI and Cheltenham-based not-for-profit Bright Futures to gauge awareness of students about personal finance and pensions.
The programme assessed more than 1,200 students aged between 15 and 18 from schools and colleges in London, Coventry and Darlington.
Students were quizzed on financial matters before the programme, with 69 per cent regarding pensions as an important factor to consider when looking for a job. This rose to 94 per cent, after the programme.
Subjects such as payday loans, credit cards, data security and budgeting were also covered.
Chris Hitchen, chief executive of RPMI, said: “It is critical that the next generation of UK employees has a firm grasp of their own personal financial circumstances and that they recognise the importance of savings in general, and particularly through pensions.”
Personal finance is already taught in schools as part of the curriculum in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland and will be introduced into English schools from September this year.
Mr Webb added: “The government recognises the importance of incorporating personal finance education into the national curriculum for secondary schools and colleges.”
Lisa Winnard, director of Sesame Bankhall Group’s Financial Adviser School, said: “Any initiative that encourages young people to think about the elements that contribute to their own future financial wellbeing is to be commended.
“People are more likely to make good use of the financial products and advice available to them, and as a result are more financially astute and fit, and it can also be the first step to igniting an interest in financial services as a potential career route.
“FAS attracts many career changers whose awareness of the financial advice profession has evolved as the result of personal experiences, which have subsequently led to a need for financial advice.
“As with so many roles in the industry, we require evidence of a good current financial standing and a sound financial history, so any education that contributes to that outcome is beneficial to young people aspiring to join the industry.”