STEM Strategy Implementation Group minutes: November 2018

Minutes from the fourth meeting of STEM Strategy Implementation Group.

Attendees and apologies

Members attending

  • Richard Lochhead, Minister for Further Education, Higher Education and Science (Chair)
  • Lesley Sheppard [LSh], Scottish Government
  • Roddy McDonald [RM], Scottish Government
  • Nicola Sykes [NS], Scottish Government
  • Alastair Sim [IS], Universities Scotland
  • Alan Armstrong [AA], Education Scotland
  • Julia Brown [JB], Scottish Enterprise
  • Eddie Follan [EF], COSLA
  • Morven Cameron [MCa], Highlands and Islands Enterprise
  • Ken Edwards [KE], Skills Development Scotland
  • Martin McGuire [MM], Colleges Scotland
  • Sue Pope [SP], Scottish Qualifications Authority
  • Lorna Sweeney [LS], Association of Directors of Education in Scotland (ADES)
  • Michael Cross [MCr], Scottish Funding Council
  • Talat Yaqoob [TY], Equate Scotland
  • Matt Lancashire [ML], Scottish Council for Development and Industry (SCDI)
  • Rodney Ayre, Developing Young Workforce
  • Beverley Akinlami [BA], Community Learning & Development Managers Scotland


  • Hugh McAloon, Scottish Government
  • Paul Smart [PS], Scottish Government
  • Kevin Mitchell, Care Inspectorate
  • Catherine Agnew, Care Inspectorate
  • Robert Hynd, Community Learning and Development Managers Scotland
  • Linda Leuchars [LL], Dundee Science Centre
  • Robert Orr, SDS on behalf of South of Scotland Economic Partnership


  • Sara Lightbody [SL], Scottish Government
  • Barbara Morton [BM], Scottish Government

Others attending

  • Irene Permaul [IP], Scottish Government

Items and actions

Welcome and introductions

The Minister welcomed members to the fourth meeting of the Implementation Group, and outlined his commitment to taking forward the actions within the Strategy having taken up the role of Minister for Further Education, Higher Education and Science.  It was highlighted that the focus of the meeting would be on the draft annual report.

It was noted that Professor Iain Gordon would replace Professor Iain Allison as the representative for Universities Scotland for future meetings, and that Professor Iain Hunter was attending as Co-Chair of the External Advisory Group as agreed at the previous meeting. 

Minutes and action points from the previous meeting

No comments were received on the minutes of the third meeting which were approved and will be published on the Scottish Government web page.

Action:  Minutes of the third meeting of the Implementation Group to be published on the Scottish Government website.

SL provided an update on the actions from the previous meeting:

  • in relation to the Risk Register, it was identified that work had been undertaken with Action Officers to identify and expand on risks and that this would be brought to the next meeting of the Group as a specific agenda item
  • work to identify further potential industry/employer representatives for the External Advisory Group was ongoing

Action:  Risk Register to be included as a specific agenda items for next meeting of Implementation Group.

External Advisory Group and Equalities Sub-Group update

SL provided an update on the most recent meetings of the Equalities Sub-Group and External Advisory Group. 

It was advised that the Equalities Sub-Group meeting on 25 September had focused on the emerging recommendations of the Gender Pay Gap Action Plan but that the focus would return to the STEM Strategy Actions at the next meeting and that Action Officers were being asked to outline how they would incorporate equalities across all the actions within the Strategy and not just those within the Equity theme.

It was highlighted that the External Advisory Group meeting on 29 October had focussed on the Annual Report and that their feedback had been taken into account in the version circulated to the Implementation Group.

Annual report

BM provided an overview of the annual report and associated papers, and flagged that overall progress was good with some further work required to more clearly outline how the Key Performance Indicators linked to individual actions. It was also indicated that there are some data gaps but that these would be highlighted in the report and progressed as part of the priorities for Year 2. Updates were provided by individual partners on activity towards the actions within the Strategy.

Members were comfortable with outline report in terms of structure and content, with the following points made:

  • MC advised that SFC have published a report on their work which includes some positive, forward looking material that could be used in the report on university and college activity.
  • while there was concern expressed around loss of STEM graduates from the STEM sector, it was also recognised that STEM graduates brought benefits to other sectors also
  • links to future industries were also highlighted as an important consideration, with links to the developing the Young Workforce activity important in this respect
  • in relation to media campaigns, it was requested that various forms of media and approaches were adopted rather than just a reliance on social media so that a broad reach was ensured.  It was agreed that local partners such as the Science Centres and Festivals and CLD would support this

The following issues were identified for future meetings:

  • STEM Bursary criteria and STEM Teaching vacancies

The scope of the STEM Strategy was recognised to be limited to education and training and that the impacts could take some time to flow through. However, members flagged that there are immediate issues to be addressed such as STEM teacher shortages and STEM employer skills gaps.  It was suggested that innovative and creative solutions were needed to address these immediate issues. Links to other initiatives were also highlighted that would be looking at some of these wider issues including the Future Skills Action Plan and National Retraining Partnership.

Some potential areas for further data to be considered were discussed, including:

  • numbers of students undertaking STEM subjects who go on to a career in STEM. It was flagged that some longitudinal work was being undertaken on uptake on Apprenticeships and tracking through to career gains which would report in August 2019

Any other business and date of next meeting

The Minister thanked partners for their involvement and for attending the meeting, and advised that he would look to convene a meeting with other Ministers on the wider issues.

No other issues were raised during the meeting.

Potential dates for future meetings were discussed and it was agreed that SL would circulate options to identify which would be best for the majority.

Action:  SL to circulate potential dates for the 2019 meetings of the Implementation group.

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