STEM in Schools - One Year On
30 March 2017
It’s been a year since the Scottish government poured £1.5 million in to STEM (that’s Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) teaching in schools. This extra funding would be available in both primary and secondary schools and was part of a consultation which ended in January 2017.
The program also aimed to work with colleges to bring the number of full-time college places in STEM subjects in line with regional employment needs.
Research suggests that 65% of children currently at pre-school stage will work in jobs or careers that don’t yet exist.
There is already huge demand for STEM skills, knowledge and capability in Scotland’s economy today, with occupations relying on STEM ranging from engineering and medicine to design and tourism.
Part of the initiative is also designed to attract women in to STEM degree courses and employment. This began by encouraging girls to choose science and technology subjects at secondary school and take them through to Higher level.
There is a desire to grow the workforce in a bid to grow the national economy.
With Scottish manufacturing and engineering exports in the billions, the increased prevalence of STEM right from the very early stages of schooling can only be a good thing. Especially if Scottish firms are looking to compete on a global scale in terms of technological advances.
Another of the objectives is to ensure that, by 2020, every Scottish school is working with a STEM partner from the private, public or third sectors. This, in turn, is designed to inspire enthusiasm in school pupils for STEM subjects, and to make them aware of the potential career paths that lie within the sector.
Furthermore, £400,000 was poured in to utilising STEM workers in a teaching capacity, using their knowledge and experience to provide invaluable insight for those pupils who are interested in pursuing a career in the industry.
As previously mentioned, there is also a focus on encouraging girls to overcome stereotypes – for example, that science is for boys and art is for girls – and pursue a career in STEM. The number of passes by girls in STEM subjects at school increased between 2007 and 2016: Higher qualifications in maths and computing rose by 6%; in chemistry by 8%; and in physics by 10%.
These gender stereotypes continue right through school on to university life, where females are also less likely to opt for a degree in STEM subjects. However, there are signs that this is slowly changing.
According to figures from the Scottish government, between 2007 and 2016 the number of female entrants in STEM subjects at Scottish universities had increased by 26% in first degree courses and 47% in postgraduate courses.
Money was also assigned to encourage women back into STEM careers after either taking a career break or after opting not to pursue a STEM career, despite completing a university degree. Attracting and retaining women in to career paths such as engineering has long been a problem, and not just in Scotland.
Whilst the outcome of this government investment largely remains to be seen, it is important that Scotland’s industries are promoted and maintained. There are so many different career paths within manufacturing and engineering – most of which naturally follow from a passion for STEM from an early age.
If you are interested in a career in Scotland’s manufacturing and engineering industry, click here to meet our recruitment team and chat with them.
Written By Michelle McLaughlin