AS a university professor it is my job to think about education.

I have been doing so more than normal in the last week. Partly that was because I gave my inaugural lecture at the University of Sheffield, which is the university at which I work, and that demanded that I think about just what my job there is all about.

It was also, however, because I have been thinking quite a lot about the education of young people in general and about all the things that they might need to know about money in the real world that they will, ­inevitably, have to face as they move into adulthood.

My discussions with young people ­suggest that they know remarkably ­little about ­money. I know that the Scottish ­Government does have a requirement that money be addressed as part of the ­education curriculum, but that is largely as a means of teaching maths.

Amongst the topics it ­suggests is working out the ­diameter of some common coins. That was not quite what I had in mind. Once we’re adults I suspect that very few of us have ever worried about that.

Instead, what I do know from my work as a practising chartered accountant, as a ­university academic, and as a ­campaigner and blogger, as well as just by being a ­parent, is that whatever issues with ­regard to money might have been addressed at their school most young people are ­intensely unaware of just how money works in the real world.

This is particularly true at the time that they first come to engage with both ­living away from home and being at work. Of course, these issues may not happen at the same time, but both of them are really stressful.

When thinking about how to tackle this issue I began in the way that most ­teachers might. I thought about what someone might need to learn. I even thought about how it might be possible to test people to make sure that they had really learned what was being taught.

As a result, I came up with quite a long list of things I think are essential that young people know. A few of these have anything much to do with a maths curriculum.

I was beginning to feel quite pleased when it struck me that the most important thing that almost anyone needs to know about money is that we all worry about it.

And I really do mean that almost all of us do worry about money, much of the time

Just to be clear, that includes the wealthy as well as those of us rather more normal people who have to worry some or all the time about how we might pay the bills, which is something I have very definitely experienced in my life.

The only difference between the wealthy and the rest of us (and I say this on the basis of having met my fair share of wealthy people) is that they worry about losing their money. The idea that they might lose what they think their status to be by having less money really matters to those with wealth.

As a result, I think I can guarantee that Rishi Sunak really hated the reports that he and his wife have seen their wealth fall by £200 million this week. That is not because this has any real impact on their lives.

They do, after all, still have more wealth than any person on earth can ever need. But the fact that they have slipped down the pecking order of wealth will ­really hurt, and you can be sure that they will worry about it.

For the rest of us, the issue is different. Most people don’t have enough money to worry about losing it in the way that the really wealthy do. Instead, what we worry about is having enough money to get by.

That worry might be about having enough to make it to the end of the week

It might instead be a worry about whether we can afford some of the fun things in life that we want for ourselves, or we want for our children and grandchildren.

I always remember my mother telling me and my brothers about how expensive treats like ice creams were, leaving me forever with a slight guilt about buying such things in case I break the household budget by doing so. That might have been precisely what she wanted to teach us, but it also took the edge off things – as money worries always can.

The worry that people have might also be about how to manage debts

Or it could be about the worries so many have about how they will survive in old age on the reduced income that a ­pension supplies.

Every time I do a meeting with groups to discuss Scotland after independence the most common questions are about how a Scottish currency will impact ­mortgages and pensions. I know as a result just how big this worry is in Scotland.

What I do definitely know after 40 years of advising people on their money as an accountant (which I still am for a few people, on top of the other things I do) is that one of the biggest causes of sleepless nights is money worries.

People are terrified of not being able to pay their bills.

They are just as worried about their tax bills, especially if they are self-employed.

Universal credit scares the living ­daylights out of people because the ­system is so complicated, unfair and hard to comply with.

And being in debt and unable to pay is a recurring nightmare for many.

So, whilst thinking about a curriculum for educating young people in finance is important, I also think two other things are really important as well for the sake of everyone in Scotland.

The first is access to really good advice on the basics of how to manage money. I’d actually make doing a short course on this compulsory for all school leavers, and maybe offer a more advanced one for those of university age as well, and ­encourage employers to ask people to take it if they want a job.

But as importantly, I suggest that we need to really boost the advice available to people who cannot work out how to solve their money worries.

Citizen’s Advice and others struggle with limited resources to do a good job, but I can still guarantee that large numbers of the people who turn up at GP surgeries asking for drugs for anxiety and depression could actually explain the root cause of their problem as money worries. GPs are most definitely not trained to help people with regard to their finances, but as a result, all that they can provide to people is an anaesthetic.

What we really need is a nationwide support system that helps people get through their problems and an economy that provides people with sufficient income, either from work or benefits, to cover what are now considered to be the basic cost of living.

And we need a system of emergency loans operated via the benefits or PAYE tax systems to provide people with ­emergency loans when crises really do hit and they have nowhere else to go for help.

There is no indication that any ­politician in Westminster wants to do this.

If anyone wants to win ­independence for Scotland, they need to address the ­issue of money worries. Taking them away could be the basis for Scottish prosperity.