STEM strategy for education and training: first annual report

Overview of progress in the first year of the five year STEM Strategy for Education and Training in Scotland.


A recent data gathering exercise undertaken by Education Scotland in collaboration with local authorities and employer groups indicates that 79% of secondary schools are now benefitting from meaningful and productive partnerships with employers. (KPI V)

We will promote Connection by:

  • Improving the support available to schools
  • Delivering up to date advice and information on STEM careers.
  • Increasing the responsiveness of colleges, universities and the apprenticeship programmes to the needs of the economy.

As a result of the actions in this section, by 2022, we expect to see:

  • Increased collaboration between schools, colleges, universities and employers. (KPI V)
  • Increased employment in STEM-related occupations and employers more satisfied with the STEM skills and capability of the people they employ from schools, colleges, universities and from apprenticeship programmes. (KPI VI)

Improving the support available to schools and increasing responsiveness

A new college-led STEM Hub network has been created at a regional level to strengthen collaboration between partners including universities, Science Centres and employers, and to facilitate more joint professional learning between secondary schools and colleges, and primary and early learning settings. The creation of the 13 regional hubs has already strengthened the links between key stakeholders at a regional level to enable smooth delivery of many of the actions within the Strategy. The hubs have collated a baseline of regional activity that identifies the areas of strength and good practice within the region and areas where further development is required. At the same time, the hubs will influence and be incorporated in the development of regional STEM strategies that are currently being developed and refined in each college region, with progress being monitored through the Outcome Agreement process and reviewed by the STEM Hub Steering Group on an annual basis.

College Regional STEM Strategies will indicate priorities for joint-working between schools, colleges, universities and employers, in which the regional hubs will play a key supporting role bringing together stakeholders and facilitating Career Long Professional Learning and STEM engagement. The Scottish Funding Council has developed guidance on the use of credit activity in primary and secondary schools delivered through colleges, providing the work ties in to the STEM Strategy themes.

The 21 DYW Regional Groups are charged with addressing local employers’ skill and workforce needs by bringing schools and employers’ closer together, through a whole range of activity both within schools and on employers’ premises. DYW Groups do not generally classify activity by occupation or industrial sector, but rather reflect the needs of local employers who form the majority of the Regional Boards. This means that much of the activity that takes place will involve activity with employers in industries with a high level of STEM occupations: construction; engineering; life sciences; and medical care. Activities include employer visits; work experience; talks by employers and other workers; and increasingly curriculum participation with contextual learning on either a regular or one-off basis. The Groups are engaged in activity to address gender imbalance in occupations and this typically concentrates on activities to promote interest from women and girls in STEM subjects and occupations. A recent data gathering exercise, undertaken in collaboration with local authorities and employer groups, indicates that 79% of secondary schools are now benefitting from meaningful and productive partnerships with employers.

A key focus for 2019 will be the development of an online directory of quality assured STEM inspiration activities for schools by external partners, including employers. Work will take place to scope and decide on the criteria and process for including activities. Together with the STEM Hubs, this will address a key issue identified in our consultation on the Strategy which was the need for more co-ordination of such activities and a better understanding of what kinds of activities had the most impact in terms of sustaining engagement and interest in STEM into the long term. The Scottish Government funds the Scottish Council for Development and Industry’s Young Engineers and Science Clubs and their activities have been aligned with the aims of the Strategy, particularly around equality of opportunity in the context of gender, rurality and deprivation.

These actions will contribute to both KPI V and KPI VI, but will be particularly measured against KPI V looking at employer engagement with education. Options for collecting data for this KPI are currently being actively explored with partners.

Delivering up-to-date advice and information on STEM careers and increasing responsiveness to the needs of the STEM economy

Skills Development Scotland is developing a new system to make sure that STEM labour market information is available to careers advisors and teachers in an easily accessible form. There will be additional support and resources for teachers to help them use this information to put STEM learning into context.

The Scottish Funding Council is conducting an audit of current practice in industry placements for students at college and university. The aim of the audit is to establish a baseline on which to measure future actions relating to placements. The results of the audits will be available in Spring 2019.

In 2019, as part of our work to follow up the Learner Journey review, we will develop a comprehensive careers strategy for the all age careers service in colleges and universities. This will link with the Careers Education Standard already in place for education from 3-18.

Each of these actions will contribute to delivering against KPI VI concerning college learner placements with employers in STEM-related occupations and measured through KPI VIb around employer satisfaction with STEM skills and capability of employees. Data against this KPI will be monitored and activity adjusted accordingly if needed.


Email: Frank Creamer

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