The Government faces renewed pressure to make personal finance compulsory in the curriculum.
Britain's awarding body for finance qualifications said the skill was as important as "numeracy, literacy and IT" because of the ever-increasing debt faced by young people.
The Institute of Financial Services is the latest to call upon Ministers to ensure youngsters leave school able to manage their money.
In February, insolvency experts R3 Midlands called for personal finance in schools after highlighting a 57.1 per cent rise in individual debt in the last quarter of 2005.
March saw City watchdog the Financial Services Authority warn that young people urgently needed help increasing their financial skills to avoid future problems.
The same month saw a survey reveal parents would rather see their children taught about personal finance than traditional subjects such as history and geography.
Gavin Shreeve, chief executive of the IFS, said changes in society meant teaching money management now needed to be mandatory rather than voluntary.
"We believe it is imperative for financial education to be taught in schools as a stand-alone qualification.
"It is as much a key and essential life skill as numeracy, literacy and IT ability. Given that there is less provision from the State for people's pensions and there is an everincreasing burden of debt for young people going through education, it should be in the national curriculum."
Ministers have repeatedly refused to force schools to teach personal finance. Some teachers touch on the subject in Personal, Social and Health Education, Citizenship and the new Enterprise Education subject.
During a visit to Birmingham last year, Tony Blair ruled out making it compulsory in the curriculum but with personal debt currently more than £1 billion and tuition top-up fees set to triple the amount university students pay this September, the Prime Minister has come under increased pressure to act.
Mr Shreeve said he understood there was reluctance to go down the mandatory route, but personal finance tuition was now essential.
"We are lobbying and we are pushing hard for this. Some youngsters don't get this information at home. We find kids look to their peer group for knowledge, but who are they going to get this information from?
"We simply cannot afford to allow our children to leave school without being able to confidently handle money."
The IFS sets qualifications throughout the financial services sector in areas such as retail banking and accounting.
Last year it launched a Certificate and Diploma in Financial Studies which are equivalent to an AS level and A2 level.
This September will see the launch of a foundation and intermediate IFS qualification in personal finance aimed at teenagers aged 14 and 16 while still at school - but none are mandatory.
Mr Shreeve said: "We are rolling them out nationally and they will be available to every school in the UK but as they are not compulsory we are relying on the energy and enthusiasm of individual teachers within schools and colleges to adopt the qualifications.
"The feedback that we have received is very positive. Over 100 schools and colleges have already signed up." ..SUPL: