STEM strategy for education and training: third annual report

Third annual report on progress of the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematic (STEM) education and training strategy setting out a range of actions that have been taken, despite the restrictions due to COVID-19, in support of STEM education and training provision.


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.

National Manufacturing Institute Scotland – NMIS
NMIS is an industry-led international centre of expertise which will make Scotland a global leader in advanced manufacturing. The work of NMIS is absolutely crucial for the sector as we seek to protect long-term prospects, and ensure we have vibrant manufacturing industries for future generations – transforming skills, productivity and innovation to attract investment and make Scotland a global leader in advanced manufacturing. NMIS will have three elements:

a digital factory to explore and develop next generation technology;

  • a manufacturing skills academy to transform the skills of today and tomorrow's workforce; and
  • a collaborative hub as a space to allow companies to work and innovate together.
  • NMIS is drawing on the strength and expertise of all our universities and colleges, having already signed a collaboration agreement with the Energy Skills Partnership to support building expertise across Scotland's colleges.

Labour Market Information
SDS publish a suite of resources to support partners with strategic skills investment planning. At a national level, the monthly COVID-19 Labour Market Insights (LMI) report and dashboard provide up to date information on Scotland's economy and labour market in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, detailed regional and sectoral skills assessments provide analysis of skills supply and demand across Scotland's regions and key sectors to inform future investment in skills.

This information is used to support the 'Labour Market Essentials' toolkit for careers staff. The toolkit is a package of LMI resources in the form of videos, slides, and links to relevant information. Work is ongoing to review the toolkit and this will include strengthening the profile of STEM LMI.

The Science Skills Academy
The Science Skills Academy (SSA) was established to inspire young people across the Highlands of Scotland to become engaged with the core STEM subjects. Led by Highlands and Islands Enterprise, the SSA wants to encourage more young people to study STEM subjects in school and beyond, have the skills to enter employment in STEM sectors, and raise awareness of STEM-related careers, particularly those in the Highlands and Islands.

This innovative project ensures an equity of provision, overcoming barriers of geography and scale, to reach all schools in the region. Working in partnership with FIRST Scandinavia in Norway, the project is international in outlook and this provides exciting opportunities to engage with projects and organisations from different countries. The project also works in partnership with regional (Highland Council; University of the Highlands and Islands; High Life Highland) and national (Skills Development Scotland; NHS; Science Centres) organisations to ensure added value is achieved through creative collaborative approaches to rural delivery.

Science Skills Academy – Newton Room Network
Newton Rooms are a key part of the SSA as they provide modern, bright and stimulating settings. Facilities are already established in Thurso, Fort William and Dingwall and, when COVID-19 restrictions allow, a Pop-Up Newton Room will be used for the region's most remote and rural schools in Skye and Lochalsh. It is anticipated a new-build bespoke facility will be established in Inverness in 2021. Each Newton Room has its own dedicated member of staff to deliver Newton Modules to school groups, and other STEM activities to the wider community.

Newton Modules are full-day activities that allow P6-S2 pupils from Highland to participate in hands-on activities that are tailored to complement Curriculum for Excellence and reflect STEM sectors relevant to the Highlands and Islands. As well as aligning activities with the STEM requirements of the region, the SSA work with local STEM employers to shape Newton Modules so as they incorporate skills or real-life applications from STEM sectors.

In its first 20 months of operation the SSA delivered activities to 4,718 school pupils across the Highland Council region including: Robotics and Mathematics taster and full day Newton Module sessions to P6/7 pupils; Renewable Energy taster and full day Newton Module sessions to S1/2 pupils; other extracurricular activities to P4-S2 pupils.

To complement the Newton Modules, the SSA have created a series of videos that highlight both regionally significant STEM sectors as well as local STEM employers. These include on-site footage of young employees who, in another series of videos, go into more detail on their own STEM pathways. Despite COVID-19, the SSA has continually reviewed options and adapted delivery plans to ensure that the project continues to deliver high-quality interventions to young people in Highland.

Regional STEM Partnerships (STEM Hubs)Scotland now has 13 Regional STEM Partnerships, formerly known as STEM Hubs. The Partnerships are college-led hubs that bring together key regional stakeholders to drive progress around STEM. Actions are coordinated by a national Steering Group. In addition, the STEM Leads Forum is a group coordinated by the Energy Skills Partnership bringing together representatives from each college region. The Partnerships share expertise on curriculum development and co-ordinate regional CLPL activity for lecturers and teachers. Links are developed with local authorities with the aim of improving the pipeline of learners choosing STEM subjects at college or university.

Achievements have included STEM students in the Lanarkshire working closely with Early Learning and Childcare students to upskill the future ELC workforce on teaching STEM for very young children. Although COVID-19 has slowed down some of the outreach activity usually targeted at schools, a great deal of best practice has been shared around blended learning and existing initiatives have been adapted to enable schools, colleges and universities to adapt their curriculum.

Schools and colleges working in partnership remains crucial to the promotion of STEM education and careers. A partnership between Dumfries and Galloway College and Borders College, is in place to develop a network of STEM Hubs across the South of Scotland. The aim is to address the immediate skills gaps in areas such as Energy and Engineering, Construction and Care. Hubs are accessible to school and college students and employers wishing to try the latest technologies or upskill their current workforce. In addition Borders College has provided new STEM and Care facilities in Hawick and Galashiels and the STEM Construction and Renewables Hub in Hawick promotes training and development of new and emerging technologies in the construction and renewables industries.

Through the National Transition Training Fund, SFC has invested £2.9 million of funding to train and retrain up to 2,000 individuals in those sectors that have been identified as being disproportionally affected by the impact of COVID-19. Working with Forth Valley College, the Construction Scotland Innovation Centre (CSIC), Energy Skills Partnership (ESP) and the National Manufacturing Institute Scotland (NMIS), it is proposed to deliver a series of training opportunities to individuals currently out of work or facing the prospect of redundancy in STEM related areas.



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