STEM education and training strategy - refresh: annual report

Annual report of progress on delivery of the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education and training strategy. Sets out a range of actions by education and other stakeholders under each of the four themes of the strategy.

2 Introduction

The challenges and opportunities facing STEM education and training, initially identified in the 2017 STEM Strategy, remain broadly similar in 2022. While the pandemic has impacted on many aspects of project and programme delivery, our core goals remain unaltered and are supported by the available academic literature;

Efforts should continue to be made to ensure children, young people and adults are encouraged to develop an interest in, and enthusiasm for, all aspects of STEM from the early formative years and throughout their lifetime. A well-informed and STEM-literate public will be better equipped to understand the implications of rapid technological change and better prepared to participate in civic society and input to issues that may affect them and their families such as nuclear power, climate change etc. We are aware that STEM can be seen by some as a real voyage of discovery and by others as a series of dry, fact-based subjects.

We need to ensure that our education and training system has the right number and diversity of practitioners, including educators with the necessary STEM capabilities, to be supported to continue to deliver high-quality learning and teaching.

Our education and training offer should be flexible and responsive enough to ensure that it continues to equip all of our citizens with the skills that employers are seeking and which meet our ambitions for our future economy. This includes recognising the opportunities for new green jobs and embedding green skills. Our support systems should also demonstrate a degree of agility in which to respond to changing labour market conditions and the unpredictable demands of a global economy. This is particularly apt in areas such as computing and digital skills development although it applies elsewhere across STEM.

The long-term goal of promoting efforts to tackle gender imbalances and other inequalities that exist across STEM education and training should continue at pace. Limiting access due to factors such as gender, race, disability, deprivation and geographical location are inherently unfair and continue to undermine our ability to deliver inclusive economic growth for Scotland. The full benefits of STEM education and training will not be realised until this goal is achieved.

This report, covering activity over the four years that have elapsed since the start of Strategy implementation, is divided into the actions, grouped under each of the four Strategy themes. Where appropriate, reference is made to actions and plans that are likely to be taken forward over the coming two years. In addition, progress on meeting a set of key performance indicators is included as a series of data tables published alongside this report.

Key Aims

The aims of the Strategy are:

  • to build the capacity of the education and training system to deliver excellent STEM learning so that employers have access to the workforce they need;
  • to inspire children, young people and adults to study STEM and to continue their studies to obtain more specialist skills; and
  • to close equity gaps in participation and attainment in STEM so that everyone has the opportunity to fulfil their potential and contribute to Scotland's economic prosperity;
  • to connect the STEM education and training offer with labour market need – both now and in the future – to support improved productivity and inclusive economic growth.

In meeting these aims in the Broad General Education and beyond, the STEM Strategy helps deliver successful learners and confident individuals, able to pursue their interest and career ambitions, to learn new skills as those interests and ambitions dictate. Learners will also be supported to become responsible citizens, empowered to understand the big issues facing our society and communities such as climate change, and as such to become effective contributors in society, higher and further education, and the workplace.

Meeting these aims supports our wider aims and ambitions, in particular they support the National Strategy for Economic Transformation (NSET).1 By inspiring learners we lay the foundations for them to develop the skills they need throughout their lives, to allow them to access rewarding careers. By building capacity to deliver excellent STEM learning we build the workforce to support Scotland's position in new markets and industries, and support the transition to net zero. We also ensure, both through a commitment to fundamental STEM skills, and to the wider skills of leadership and co-operation that can be developed through STEM learning, that the conditions are in place for the learners of today to be the entrepreneurs of tomorrow. This supports the NSET vision for Scotland as a world-class entrepreneurial nation in general, just as in relation to Computing Science and related skills in particular it supports the foundations of the pipeline described in the Scottish Technology Ecosystem Review. Finally by closing equity gaps in STEM education we can play our role in reducing the wider structural inequalities that impact on poverty and on health, participation, cultural and social outcomes.

In this way the STEM Strategy helps meet our ambition to fulfil the potential of learners, and to support a thriving net zero future economy.



Back to top