Reducing inequity in STEM subjects

Aaliyah, Grace, Sonny and Ronney, primary five and six pupils from Dedridge Primary School, show Science Minister Richard Lochhead their carpentry skills as they get hands-on STEM experience alongside childcare students at West Lothian College

MORE people from rural and deprived areas are accessing high-quality STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) events and science centres following two years of concentrated efforts.

Nearly £10 million of Scottish Government funding has supported more than 160 training projects for teachers and early learning practitioners in high-demand subject areas as part of the five-year STEM Strategy for Education and Training.

A further £6 million has been invested by the government in public science learning in science centres, science festivals and school and community events to make STEM more accessible across Scotland.

Since the first year of the strategy, the proportion of the most deprived schools receiving a quality STEM engagement experience from science centres has steadily increased. 

More than a fifth of STEM-related foundation apprenticeship starts in 2018 were by women, up from 8.1% in 2016. 

Science Minister Richard Lochhead highlighted the growing need for STEM skills to tackle global issues as he met primary one pupils, teaching staff and employers at a sustainability summit at West Lothian College, using recycled materials to build an energy-efficient town of the future.

Mr Lochhead said:

“Only by creating excellence and equity in STEM education and training do we stand a chance of tackling the climate emergency and other global challenges where these skills are vital.

“We have always been an ‘innovation nation’, whether at the forefront of researching and developing new approaches to reducing emissions or engaging with the climate change debate and making informed decisions in everyday life. We are seeing progress in key areas and must keep up the momentum to ensure everyone is equipped for the green jobs of the future.

“We want business and employers to be integral to the STEM strategy. By providing real-life examples and experience of STEM activity in the workplace they can inspire current and future scientists, engineers and innovators and secure the talent pipeline into their industries.”

Professor Sheila Rowan, Chief Scientific Adviser for Scotland, said:

“Science, technology, engineering and maths impact on our everyday lives and play an important role in tackling global issues. The report published today highlights that the STEM strategy is supporting people of all ages and from all backgrounds across Scotland to engage with STEM, develop their skills and broaden their understanding of STEM applications in our society.”

Jackie Galbraith, Principal and Chief Executive of West Lothian College, said:

“West Lothian College is serious about tackling the global climate emergency. Students, staff and partners agree there is no ‘Planet B’ and a major outcome from our sustainability summit is that we will no longer sell food and drink in single-use plastic containers or bottles.

“Raising awareness of STEM careers amongst young people – combined with offering more high quality science, computing and engineering courses and apprenticeships – is vital to achieving sustainability. We are proud to be a proactive supporter of the national strategy, engaging over 1,000 nursery, primary and secondary pupils in STEM events at the college over the past year through West Lothian STEM Hub.”

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