STEM strategy for education and training: second annual report

Second annual report on progress with the STEM Education and Training Strategy which shows how we have built on progress in the first year to start to deliver benefits for educators and young people.

7. Connection

To ensure that STEM education and training helps people develop the skills and knowledge needed in the labour market 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)
Of the 1,187 practitioners that responded to Education Scotland's 2019 Annual STEM Practitioner Survey, 42.1% said that their establishment had a STEM partner from the private, public or third sector compared with 25.9% in 2018. (KPI V a)
25.9% 2018; 42.1% 2019

This section provides an overview of progress on individual actions under the Connection theme.

Improving the support available to schools and increasing responsiveness

The 21 Developing the Young Workforce Regional Groups continue to address local employers, skill and workforce needs by bringing schools and employers closer together, through establishing partnerships across a range of activity both within schools and on employers premises. Activities include employer visits, work experience, talks by employers and other workers. Learning about real-life situations in the workplace is being incorporated into the curriculum through schools and employers working together on either a regular or one-off basis. The Groups are also engaged in activity to address gender imbalance in occupations. In excess of 4,000 employer-education partnerships are in place across the country.

A key issue identified in our consultation on the Strategy, was the need for more co-ordination of 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. Education Scotland has been developing an online directory of quality-assured STEM inspiration activities for schools by external partners to address this. The directory will become available during 2020.

Such activities include the Scottish Council for Development and Industry's Young Engineers and Science Clubs, and Generation Science, both of which are funded by Scottish Government. Their activities have been aligned with the aims of the Strategy, particularly around equality of opportunity in the context of gender, rurality and deprivation.

The college-led STEM Hub network established in the first year of the STEM Strategy also helps to increase awareness of STEM opportunities. More advanced STEM Hubs are now delivering professional learning and increased engagement activity, and colleges are now focused on building on this work further and will continue to work towards delivering further improved outcomes.

The above actions will contribute to both KPI V and KPI VI, but will be particularly measured against KPI V looking at employer engagement with education. New KPIs have been put in place for the Developing the Young Workforce Regional Groups, with some baseline information available for 2018-19. Provisional information indicates that in the first half of the current reporting year, the Regional Groups arranged opportunities for 78,910 young people to engage with employers, of which 19,850 were in STEM industrial sectors. This amounts to 25.3% of young people's engagement for the first half of the year. In addition, of the 1,187 practitioners that responded to Education Scotland's 2019 Annual STEM Practitioner Survey, 42.1% said that there establishment had a STEM partner from the private, public of third sector, a significant increase compared with 25.9% in 2018.

Colleges are engaging directly with schools on STEM in a range of ways. For example:

  • The Greenpower Education Trust is a UK based charity which gets young people enthusiastic about STEM by challenging them to design, build and race an electric car. In West College Scotland, the project was aimed at young people who had effectively disengaged from school. The college environment provided a more positive atmosphere for these young people as barriers have been removed and a self-reliant competition element added.
  • The IET FIRST┬« LEGO┬« League is a global science and technology challenge for teams of students, to encourage an interest in real world issues and develop key skills that are crucial for their future careers. In 2018-19, seven colleges hosted events, increasing to 10 colleges, with around 500 pupils competing across 62 teams in 2019-20 when ESP hosted the first ever Scottish Championships at Perth College UHI on 29 February 2020. The winners will have the opportunity to compete in the global finals in Detroit and two international events in Greece and Brazil.
  • Subs in Schools is a new STEM learning programme designed with assistance from Fife College and project managed by ESP, with Education Scotland providing support to align the project with the Curriculum for Excellence. Students in year groups S1 to S3 have the opportunity to learn about complex engineering systems while building a remotely operated underwater vehicle.

Forth Valley College STEM Hub

#Connection #STEMHubs #CLPL #ClimateChange

The STEM grant funding provided by Education Scotland has allowed Forth Valley College's STEM outreach team to deliver exciting, hands-on STEM professional learning experiences to practitioners across the Forth Valley. This has been supported by the creation of a significant repository of online teaching and learning materials, aligned to Curriculum for Excellence. With a focus on environmental and sustainability issues, this is run as The Famous Four Save the Planet and is delivered two days a week throughout the academic year.

The team has also facilitated a number of Knowledge Exchange or 'Pick and Mix' events for practitioners from early learning and childcare settings and primary schools. The events feature a market stall showcasing the Technobox (electrical engineering for hire) and STEM in a bag experiments. The team also demonstrate the experiments from The Famous Four Save the Planet programme. The project recently won the College Development Network award for essential skills.

Building STEM capacity in Community Learning and Development

#Connection #CLD #Mathematics #Numeracy #CLPL

The following community learning and development programmes are being supported through Education Scotland's STEM Grants Fund.

  • Family learning: Glasgow Clyde College in partnership with Glasgow Science Centre has developed a credit-rated SCQF Level Four Unit which helps parents and carers to become proficient in areas of mathematics and numeracy in order to support parent and carers to support their children in STEM topics.
  • Science centres: Aberdeen Science Centre has developed closer partnerships with local authority CLD partners (Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire). The focus on increasing CLD practitioners' confidence around STEM, particularly family learning and adult learning.
  • Professional learning: The Hi5 Award STEM Toolkit - developed by Youth Scotland - is a fantastic new programme supporting the engagement of young people in STEM activities that are fun and educational.

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

Skills Development Scotland and Education Scotland continue to share and promote relevant information, updates and resources about the Careers Education Standard at national and local levels. Skills Development Scotland has also developed STEM-specific labour market information to complement wider resources for careers staff that equip them with knowledge of their local labour market. These materials will also be made available to practitioners through My World of Work.

The Scottish Funding Council has conducted an audit of colleges that currently hold STEM strategies, and identified where further work is needed. This will be evaluated as part of the Outcome Agreement process. Best practice in existing STEM strategies is also being identified through the STEM Hubs.

The Scottish Funding Council audit of STEM placements in higher education demonstrated a great breadth and variance of practice across the sector. However, with numerical data only available for STEM placements lasting ten weeks or over, the Scottish Funding Council will capture case studies of best practice in HE STEM placements in Outcome Agreements or STEM Hub reports. In the college sector, data has been provided in Outcome Agreement data tables and has seen positive increases over the last three years.

The new careers strategy published on 18 February 2020 set out the ambition for an approach to career support, employability and skills development that focuses on the needs of the individual first and foremost. The aim is for a system that builds on an individual's strengths and capabilities, and is more joined-up and enables everyone to fulfil their potential. Within the careers strategy, there is recognition that there is scope to do more employer engagement and co-ordinated activities with partners in primary, secondary, and vocational education, and with training providers and further and higher education institutions. By forging closer links with advisory services and industries, individuals will be able to consider the emerging employment opportunities, including STEM opportunities, that meets their needs as well as the needs of the economy.

The needs of industry are also being factored in to the demand statements for the Apprenticeships, on an evidence based approach, to ensure that provision meets the needs of the economy.

Each of the above actions will contribute to delivering against KPI VI around college learner placements with employers in STEM-related occupations and measured through KPI VI b around employment in STEM sectors. Progress has been seen in KPI VI a where college placements increased from 1,152 in 2015-16 to 2,223 in 2018-19. Data against KPI VI b showed that skills shortage vacancies as a proportion of all vacancies across STEM employers (24.2%) in 2017 were higher than amongst all employers (23.6%), although lower than all employers when health industries were excluded (22.8%). These KPIs will be monitored and activity adjusted accordingly if needed.

Life Sciences Sector - partnership case study

#Connection #CLPL #DYW #Employers

Life sciences is one of Scotland's most creative and innovative sectors; developing cutting edge solutions to major global issues in health, agriculture, energy and addressing climate change. With well over 30,000 people employed across Scotland, the life sciences sector has numerous potential career pathways for young people.

Skills Development Scotland, DYW Lanarkshire and East Dunbartonshire and Education Scotland have been collaborating to plan a series of professional learning opportunities for practitioners to engage with leading life sciences industry partners from global and new start-up companies. The first session in December 2019 included an on-site visit to TC BioPharm to gain a fuller appreciation of the scope and scale of the life sciences sector. The event also provided practitioners and industry professional with the opportunity to co-create classroom resources to support the curriculum.

These new partnerships are developing resources that will inspire young people; enthuse them about the potential in the life sciences sector and which will contextualise learning in STEM. Resources created are being shared nationally through GLOW to support all practitioners across Scotland.

A practitioner said:

"The day was fantastic! Having the time to chat with representatives from industry was a real eye-opener for me. I did not realise how many firms are willing and excited about taking on school leavers. I am really excited about this because quite a lot of my pupils are school leavers who will not pursue further education but could still have a rewarding career in Life Sciences industries right here in Scotland!"

An industry representative said:

"It will be critical as the sector expands for companies within Life sciences to continually engage at an early stage with educational bodies and the public sector; raising awareness to grow and develop a skilled workforce. (TC Biopharm)"

A follow up session is planned for this cohort before May with further regional events being planned to support practitioners teaching National Qualifications in STEM subjects (in particular Biology, Mathematics and Computing Science) to develop their understanding of the links from their subjects to this growth sector.



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