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Publication - Report

Supporting Scotland's STEM Education and Culture - Science and Engineering Education Advisory Group - second report

Published: 28 Feb 2012
Part of:

Recommendations for improving the profile of science in the community and enhancing science and engineering education.

133 page PDF


133 page PDF


Supporting Scotland's STEM Education and Culture - Science and Engineering Education Advisory Group - second report

133 page PDF



Background and context

The impact and economic importance of science, engineering and technology seems certain to increase strongly in coming decades. As a result, opportunities to pursue careers in science, engineering and technology are predicted to grow dramatically over the period to 2020.

The Skills Investment Plan for the energy sector [83] alone suggests an average of 5,200 to 9,500 job opportunities per year to 2020, while Scotland's life sciences sector [84] has set the aspirational target for 2020 of doubling turnover to £6.2bn and Gross Value-Added ( GVA) to £3bn. Scotland is already one of the UK's leading regions for new life sciences business creation and a successful investment magnet. In 2010, venture funding raised by our Life Sciences enterprises held up well, amounting to more than three times the 2005 total. The Scottish Life Sciences Skills Survey 2010 [85] highlighted that across 156 responses approximately 1400 scientific and non-scientific roles would be required over the next two to three years in the Scottish life science sector. The industry's refreshed strategy now aims to double the sector's economic contribution to Scotland by 2020. Such figures combined with other key growth sectors such as chemical sciences as well as information technology and enabling technologies all confirm a healthy demand for a future workforce with STEM skills.

If we are to meet that projected employer demand across these growth sectors and maintain a competitive edge in the employment market, it is essential that we develop a highly-skilled workforce that is aligned and responsive to the future needs of the science base and the economy as a whole. Young people will be made aware of these opportunities if they are able to experience STEM careers and workplace learning opportunities at first hand.

Benefits and opportunities of STEM education

There are major benefits to individuals, society and the wider economy in encouraging uptake of STEM study amongst learners. At the SEEAG stakeholder conference (June 2011) the Chief Scientific Advisor presented evidence that people who have studied STEM subjects are well placed for jobs within and outwith the core STEM industries. The Department for Business Industry and Skills ( DBIS) Research Paper [53] reinforces this view through the following observations:

  • Within the workplace, few graduates interviewed used their specific degree subject knowledge a great deal (even those in STEM Specialist work), although their degree subject was perceived as vitally important in gaining such jobs. On the other hand, almost all the graduates - irrespective of employment sector - used the general and broader skills learned while doing a STEM degree to a much greater extent.
  • Some skills of high value to non- STEM employers were unique to STEM graduates, such as a particularly logical approach to solving problems, enabling some STEM graduates to progress faster in their careers than non- STEM graduate colleagues.
  • STEM generalist (and non- STEM) employers recruit STEM graduates for different reasons; some focused more on their numeracy and analytical skills, others their approaches to problem-solving, yet others their technical knowledge and skills. It was the ability to apply some STEM knowledge and derived employability skills more broadly which seemed to be most highly valued.

Transitions and pathways post-16 to further and higher education

Transitions in our education system and onwards into further and higher education are about ensuring smooth learning progression and cultural adjustments, clearly understood choices leading to appropriate qualifications, and well signposted pathways towards challenging and rewarding careers.

The transitions and pathways from secondary to further and higher education are the subject of close current scrutiny in the Scottish Government's 2011 post-16 education paper [14] to ensure that they are cost-effective and efficient, and that they impact positively on students' further learning, skills and job prospects at a time of rationalisation and education spending cuts. Scarce resources must be used to best effect. The main issues are as follows:

  • There is the issue of pupils making the right choices and accessing the right advice earlier in their secondary education in order to have the right qualifications to enable them to find places in their chosen subjects at college and university and thereafter in their chosen careers.
  • There is the long-standing question of ensuring much more effective use of the sixth year at school, where many learners have already obtained university places, and the better articulation of the sixth year with the first year of university.

There is the challenge of employers not finding the skilled graduates they require in Scotland. The SEEAG welcomes the focus of attention on transitions and pathways in post-16 education report [14] . This raises some specific issues for STEM education which we discuss below.

Post-16 Education

The Scottish Government's (2011) pre-legislative paper [14] sets out far-reaching proposals to reform the post-16 education and skill system to create more flexible and accessible learning opportunities and pathways, with a specific emphasis on young people. Section 4 of the paper discusses strengthening the alignment of non-advanced learning and skills with jobs and growth and refers both to the skills needs of the key economic sectors (including life sciences and energy) and the importance of enabling learners to develop a broad range of knowledge, skills and attributes that will enhance lifelong job prospects. In section 7 the paper proposes a reform of the college sector through regionalisation of colleges to form larger, stronger, more influential institutions that can respond to local and regional demand within a national framework.

The SEEAG welcomes this more strategic approach to aligning the provision offered by colleges and training providers to the labour market and agrees that this may enhance progression into career opportunities in science, engineering and technology. There are two important points to make in relation to the regionalisation of colleges, which is being undertaken in a context of a severe reduction in funding. Firstly, provision in science and engineering is resource intensive and therefore vulnerable to cuts in expenditure, which presents a threat to expensive laboratory and workshop-based facilities. On the other hand, regionalisation offers an opportunity to develop new partnerships aligned with regional economic activity and priorities, and to invest in consolidating the best resources to create regional centres of excellence. These need to be described as measurable outcome targets.

Secondly, regionalisation should complement colleges' ability to work collaboratively at national level to support emerging economic priorities across Scotland; for example the recently formed national consortia of colleges will develop infrastructure and learning resources for both the renewable energy and life sciences sectors.

Recommendation 7.1
It is recommended that, as the reform of the post-16 education system is taken forward, the Scottish Government and the Scottish Funding Council ( SFC) should prioritise the preservation of STEM provision and invest in the further development of capacity in colleges in STEM subjects at regional and national level, aligned with labour markets and economic priorities.

Secondary - Higher Education transitions and pathways

Universities are being strongly encouraged to promote access via more flexible and non-traditional routes, with the establishment of 'articulation hubs' linking colleges and universities around Scotland (ref) and the creation of pathways through college Higher National qualifications into second/third year at university. However, only about 3,600 students per year follow this learning pathway . Students are largely still making traditional choices, along well-trodden pathways of progression, driven perhaps by financial constraints and concerns about poor employment prospects.

Uptake of the Advanced Higher Grade qualifications and Science Baccalaureate is low, largely because these qualifications are not yet widely required for entry into most STEM courses at Scottish Universities. The quality of the Advanced Higher relative to the A-level appears to be better recognised and the qualification more widely demanded in English universities, but this may quickly change. Fast-tracking of well-qualified students from school into second year of four-year university STEM degrees has been available for many years in some Scottish universities, but is not widely taken up, commonly for social reasons. This may change in coming years in response to financial pressures on students and parents. In addition, some Scottish universities have signalled their intention to move to three-year undergraduate degrees.

The narrow STEM discipline base of Scotland's secondary education system and in particular the restricted choice of SQA STEM qualifications provide obstacles to fast-tracking by able students if they do not yet have the appropriate subject knowledge to bypass first year at university in science disciplines that are not available at the senior level in schools. This same obstacle also restricts learners' awareness of the wide STEM subject choice available at universities and the diversity of subsequent STEM career pathways. While changes of subject choice are easily accommodated within the broad and flexible four year Scottish degree, as students become more aware of other STEM subjects and wider career opportunities, this becomes much harder to accommodate within three-year degrees. There are real and significant financial costs attached to wrong degree subject choice that can be ill-afforded by students and their parents and by universities. One solution to these problems is to make available a wider choice of (one-year) STEM Highers at sixth year to provide senior learners with a wider and more realistic perspective of STEM in higher education and in the world of work and at the same time to address the restricted STEM subject choice now available in the Senior Phase. The proposal for a revised UCAS 'post-qualification application' ( PQA) system currently under discussion would also support more flexible and 'aware' pathways.

Recommendation 7.2
In order to broaden the STEM base and the awareness of young people about the nature and breadth of STEM subjects, it is recommended that a range of National 5 and Higher units and courses in more applied sciences such as Earth science and Biotechnology should be developed and promoted by SQA in the senior phase (see also recommendations 4.2 and 4.5).

While signposting of new and alternative pathways is important, this does not necessarily change the minds and routes for learners. Students are also agents of change, and should be consulted. It is also important that learning destinations are recognised and valued.

Recommendation 7.3
It is recommended that, as the Scottish Government, Scottish Funding Council and Skills Development Scotland ( SDS) take forward proposals to develop and raise awareness of more flexible pathways from secondary education through further and higher education, specific consideration is given to enhancing choice of progression pathways in STEM subjects and to raising awareness of alternative progression options and pathways into work through effective STEM career management skills (see also recommendation 4.3).

Obstacles to choosing a STEM career

The DBIS paper [53] suggests that a STEM job or STEM career is not a clear concept and that final year university students studying more vocational subjects such as engineering definitely wish a career related to their degree. Between half and one third of students in other STEM degree subjects are not fully decided; reasons for seeking non- STEM employment included:

  • other fields being seen as of more interest
  • mixed perceptions about where earnings are best
  • the profile and reputation of some major employers
  • STEM had a less attractive image.

However, these reasons were felt by the Careers Research and Advisory Centre ( CRAC) who conducted the research [86] to be perceptions arising from lack of real knowledge about STEM employment and unrealistic expectations among STEM graduates.

For employers, especially those in STEM Specialist sectors, the CRAC research confirms that many STEM graduates are attracted to other areas because of a lack of knowledge of STEM work and careers but also because the graduates perceive other areas to be of more interest. CRAC research also suggests this is more a case of ignorance rather than well-founded negative views. The paper concludes that with so many students apparently undecided and without well-founded views, there is much potential to help STEM students firm up career ideas while at university and beyond, especially in the first year or so after graduating when many appear to 'drift away' from STEM. It also suggests that STEM employers need to present their case more visibly, both in terms of the attractiveness of the offer and career prospects but also the opportunities for interesting and rewarding work within STEM employment sectors.

Transition to Work

Graduate entry into the SET workforce is not the only option. Alternative, attractive routes into work include progression into technician level jobs from HNC and HND courses in colleges and modern apprenticeships. There is a strong tradition of apprenticeship training in the engineering industries and this is now being expanded into other sectors. The development of work-based progression routes and graduate apprenticeships will extend the value of alternatives to the traditional academic route, as well as meeting industry demand for a technician-level workforce. The Scottish Credit and Qualification Framework ( SCQF) has an important role to play in supporting career paths that combine work and education in more flexible ways, as envisaged in the Scottish Government's recent paper post-16 education paper [14] .

Recommendation 7.4
It is recommended that representative industry bodies consider and improve the presentation of employment and career opportunities to undergraduates.

Recommendation 7.5
It is recommended that representative industry bodies (Industry Advisory Boards) work with industry support organisations and Careers Guidance organisations (such as SDS) to consider, develop and promote relevant information on STEM careers and career pathways across all levels of education, identifying and promoting the transferability of STEM skills across the STEM Industries.

Gender equality across STEM

In Scotland, relatively similar proportions of males and females leave school with Higher Grade and Advanced Higher Grade qualifications in STEM subjects. A gender imbalance begins to show in higher education. There are over 200,000 people with a STEM degree, of whom 71% are male. This is much higher than the overall figures for graduates in Scotland, where 50% are male (Office of National Statistics, April 2009-March 2010).

According to the Scottish Resource Centre (2010), only 29% of female SET graduates in Scotland are working in the sector in which they are qualified, compared to 52% of male graduates [87] . In 2008 women accounted for only 5.2% of SET-based self-employment in the UK [88] , 15% of all those employed in SET occupations (similar to the UK as a whole) and 19% of those employed in higher skilled SET occupations in Scotland (data from Annual Population Survey 2010). It has been estimated that increasing the participation of women in the UK labour market could be worth between £15 billion and £23 billion (1.3-2.0% GDP), with STEM accounting for at least £2 billion.

Although recent years have seen significant increases in the number of female STEM graduates and postgraduates, the numbers who proceed to take up senior positions in universities, research, business and industry remain proportionately much smaller than in the case of their male counterparts. In a straitened economy where education is free, the failure to provide a workplace where skilled individuals - whether male or female - can progress and thrive is a wasted investment in human capital and represents a serious loss of potential for Scotland.

Attracting and retaining more women in the STEM workforce to boost economic growth is a public policy challenge which demands public, private and third sector solutions. Recognising under-representation of women in STEM-based careers, particularly at senior level, the Royal Society of Edinburgh, with the involvement of the Chief Scientific Adviser for Scotland, has launched an inquiry into how Scotland might lift the barriers for STEM career paths and established a Working Group to develop a cohesive and comprehensive strategy for Scotland to increase both the proportion of women in the STEM workforce and the number who rise to senior positions in universities, institutes and business. The inquiry highlights that the under-representation of women in STEM is of particular concern given the strategic importance of this field; economic growth relies heavily on innovation and knowledge, especially in science and technology. The group is deliberately focusing on issues around those women already trained in STEM subjects as opposed to the take-up of science at schools. After a wide-ranging consultation process and a number of exploratory events, the group is preparing a series of practical and achievable recommendations. These will be targeted towards specific stakeholder groups including UK Government; Scottish Government; funders and investors; academies, learned and professional bodies and scientific societies; universities and research institutes, business and industry employers. The full report with recommendations is due in April 2012.

Employer concerns

Despite industry demand for employees with STEM skills, the UK education systems are struggling to provide them. The Confederation of British Industry ( CBI)/Education Development International ( EDI) education and skills survey for 2010 [89] , suggests there is an undersupply of STEM skills at all levels and the problem is likely to get worse. The CBI policy adviser on education and skills concludes that "Over the next three years, more than half of all employers predict difficulty finding the STEM talent they need, which could act as a barrier to business growth in key areas such as low-carbon manufacturing and the creative industries".

Employers in the UK's video-games and visual-effects industries voiced their concerns about a skills shortage in the Next Gen skills review [90] , published by NESTA (National Endowment of Science, Technology and the Arts) in February 2011. Traditional UK science-based industries such as pharmaceuticals and chemicals are also concerned. The outgoing director general of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry stated that: "The UK pharmaceutical industry is highly successful and presents exciting opportunities for young people with the right skills. But we are facing a skills shortage in some areas, even allowing for global recruitment. The sector contributed a trade surplus of £7 billion to the UK economy in 2009".

The Chemical Industries Association ( CIA) [91] predicts a shortfall of 40,000 key workers at technical and operational level across the sector and related industries across the UK. To address this skills shortage, the CIA wants to see the education system revised across secondary schools and further and higher education to include, among other things, revamped vocational education at 14-19, more specialist STEM-qualified teachers, new academies with science specialisms and an overhaul of CPD for science teachers.

The Science and Innovation Strategy for Scotland Consultation Paper (2006) [92] notes that in 2003, Scotland's businesses on average invested in research and development (R&D) at around half the rate as in the UK as a whole; at 40% of the OECD average; and at 30% of the target in the European Union for 2010. Over the last six years there has been some improvement in our figures, but clearly much remains to be done. Much investment is concentrated in a few sectors, many of them foreign-owned. Losing one or two firms could seriously reduce the Scottish figures but, conversely, attracting one or two major firms willing to spend substantial amounts on R&D could improve the figures dramatically. Total Scottish R&D puts Scotland in the 3rd quartile while business R&D is in the 4th quartile, reflecting relatively strong R&D performance by the public sector [93] . The increased capacity of Scotland to retain and use its wealth of STEM graduate talent to the benefit of its economy will depend on the strengthening and widening of its R&D base, particularly in business and industry.

Summary of concerns

The above research indicates that throughout education:

  • there is a lack of clarity and understanding around the opportunities and career paths across the STEM industries and also the wider economic and personal opportunities that STEM skills would allow
  • learners are not always being given a clear steer on the range of skills and technical qualifications necessary to be successful in STEM careers
  • the perception of STEM industries and careers and job roles within STEM are not always viewed positively
  • there is a need to encourage a higher level of entrepreneurialism in STEM learners
  • there is a major failure to employ and retain sufficient women within the STEM workforce
  • there is significant weakness in Scotland's private sector R&D base that diminishes its economic capacity and leads to the loss from Scotland of much of its graduate talent.

Current Initiatives

A range of agencies, stakeholders and partners are working to respond to many of the challenges highlighted above. Some key examples were presented to SEEAG and are summarised in the description below:

1. My World of Work (My WOW) [ 94]

The Scottish Government's Career Information, Advice and Guidance ( CIAG) Strategy reaffirms its commitment to the provision of all-age CIAG as a key element in the Scottish skills system, but highlights the compelling case for doing things differently in response to service user expectations. While positioning Skills Development Scotland ( SDS) as the strategic lead in the development and delivery of CIAG services, the Strategy recognises the different roles of a range of partners and underlines the importance of working together to provide high quality CIAG. To successfully implement the CIAG strategy, SDS will make the most of modern technologies to offer a personalised service and work effectively with partners to develop and strengthen career management skills of individuals. The SDS aim is to offer customers an integrated service, comprising a mix of interventions through different channels including face to face, online, contact centre and through partners. The Curriculum for Excellence provides an ideal context within which to embed career management skills.

A key part of this activity is SDS's new online service ' My World of Work', which aims to help people plan, build and direct their career throughout their working lives. Providing information on skills, learning and employment, it supports the Scottish Government's ambitions for the improved delivery of an 'all age, universal careers service'. Customers can see jobs in action; build their CVs; search for vacancies and explore training opportunities in a way that is personal to them. There is a wide range of video clips of people talking about their job roles and a significant magazine element with exciting, current content that is relevant to the world of work.

MyWoW will enable and empower individuals to develop career management skills that will assist them in researching, learning and understanding their strengths and skills and how to match these to realistic career choices informed by up-to-date industry and labour market information from the STEM industries.

My WoW is part of the SDS wider ambition to provide a more integrated CIAG approach offering customers a mix and balance of services, involving face-to-face, online and through its contact centre. It will set out to connect the way that each individual lives, learns and works, offering them the greatest chance of making successful career decisions. The ambition of SDS for My WOW is to develop a web service that builds on its valued face-to-face and contact centre services by providing people with additional support to help them plan a career, build on it and direct it so that, throughout their lives, they can choose options that maximise their potential.

The first phase of My World of Work is complete, went live in August 2011 and is currently in use by careers advisers across SDS and the education system. Driven by customer demand and insight it now provides the online tools that customers and colleagues said they would most value. SDS should continue to extend the relevance of My World of Work to STEM related careers and involve employers in contributing to its further development.

2. Sustainable STEM Learning Communities

Sustainable STEM Learning Communities will enable local key industries to raise awareness of their industry and the career paths and opportunities within them, whilst becoming better integrated across the education system and ultimately breaking down barriers to work experience for learners. These should interface locally or regionally with developing teacher and school networks, such as professional learning communities involving (for example) schools, colleges, universities and science centres, which SEEAG is advocating as local and regional support structures for delivery of professional development and implementation of CfE.


The Life Science sector is piloting Sustainable Learning Communities with Midlothian Council in Edinburgh and Lothians, with a further pilot in development in the West Highlands. The Sustainable Learning Communities model uses the former NASA Space School model to create a framework for local sustainable learning communities bringing together schools, further education, higher education and local iconic industry partners with a view to raising awareness of key sectors locally, providing productive industry and education links which allow the relevance of STEM and other subjects to be highlighted and supported within Curriculum for Excellence, relative to and with support from local industry. Pilot projects of this type will provide useful experience in order to develop further Sustainable Learning frameworks encompassing other key sectors and STEM related industries at a local and regional level.

3. STEM Transitions Programme

The STEM Transitions programme highlights and maps the various routes into STEM further study and careers whilst allowing the learner to experience the world of work enhancing their understanding of STEM job roles.


SEMTA Scotland, the Sector Skills council for Life Sciences, along with SQA, Forth Valley College under the auspices of Scotland's Colleges Life Science and other partners including industry and SDS are in the process of developing and trialling a life science transitions programme highlighting the qualification routes and assisting the development of positive first destinations for learners studying either Skills for Work Laboratory Science or the Science Baccalaureate routes through integrating work experience in the sector with study. The programme is being trialled with Skills for Work level qualifications through Forth Valley College with consideration being given to widening the programme to include the Science Baccalaureate over the next year. The model, once evaluated, will be considered for other STEM subjects covered by Skills for Work, National Progression Award and Professional Development Award courses.

The transitions programme will interface with the Schools for Excellence Sustainable Learning Community model highlighted above.

4. Life Sciences Skills Partnership

The formation of provider hubs such as Life Sciences Skills Partnership, which may be replicated across other key sectors, allows providers, industry and partners to focus on developing the skills and qualifications required by STEM industries. Following on from the successful SDS/Scotland's Colleges Life Science Key Sector workshop the formation of Life Sciences Skills Partnership was agreed to inform and develop initiatives and interventions arising from the Scottish Life Sciences Skills Survey 85 conducted by the partners within the People work stream of the Life Sciences Industry Advisory Board.

The Life Science Modern Apprenticeships ( MA) college core deliverers form, with partners including SDS and SEMTA Scotland, the steering group which will consider qualifications, community and industry engagement working within and partnering on projects such as those mentioned previously as well as aligning closely with the Life Sciences Industry Advisory Board People work stream in order to assist in delivering under the Life Sciences Skills ecosystem objectives.

5. Modern Apprenticeships

Modern Apprenticeships allow learners to learn and develop while working. Industry gains work ready candidates who are developing the most up to date skills and knowledge in fast-paced areas.

SDS is funding the Life Sciences MA and a new Wind Turbine Service Technician MA for the Energy sector developed in partnership with Renewable UK and Carnegie College. Working closely with Industry Advisory Boards and Sector Skills Councils, SDS and partners will continue to respond to industries' apprenticeship needs, with new and enhanced apprenticeships for the energy sector under discussion. A number of LAs are taking on Modern Apprentices to train as school technicians. This will create a virtuous circle of providing training leading to valuable jobs that themselves will make an important contribution to the improvement of STEM education. It is recommended that all Local Authorities should consider adopting this approach.

6. Traditional Apprenticeships

During the last few decades there has been a decline in traditional three- or four-year apprenticeships. The traditional apprenticeship model of training is more widely used in successful economies in Europe and beyond than in the UK [95] . Traditional apprenticeships, if provided on an appropriate basis, have a number of strengths which lead to a well skilled STEM workforce on a cost effective basis to both the apprentice and their employer. During the apprenticeship the apprentice earns a relatively low 'training wage' in return for the training received. The apprentice will initially be a cost to the employer but for at least the latter half of the apprenticeship should contribute positively to the productivity of the employer thus more than recouping the costs of training. Research evidence [96] shows that whilst an apprenticeship in engineering is relatively expensive compared to other sectors this investment is, on average, paid back within two years. A traditional apprenticeship promotes a relatively strong psychological contract between the apprentice and employer resulting in lower staff turnover, a better fit between skills possessed by employees and the skills required by the employer and some control over skill-shortages potentially pushing up wage rates. There is also evidence that apprentices bring innovation into workplaces.

7. Industry Advisory Boards - Skills Groups

Industry Advisory Boards are keen to raise the profiles of their industries and the aptitudes, skills and qualifications required as well as current and future career paths and opportunities and do so in partnership with education and support agencies. SDS is heavily involved in the Energy Industry Advisory Board and recently published the Energy Skills Investment Plan [97] .

SDS is also lead or co-lead for the public sector for the Life Sciences Industry Advisory Board People work stream and the Chemical Sciences Scotland Skills Group as well as lead for the SEEAG Workstream 4 on Further Learning Training and Employability in STEM. A key part of the work across these groups is taking cognisance of similarities in overall objectives to ensure information sharing to avoid duplication of effort and create consistency of message thereby allowing effective and productive partnership development.

8. STEM and Life Science Labour Market Information ( LMI) Events

A series of LMI events are enhancing the STEM industry knowledge of careers advisers and guidance staff across SDS and the education system raising awareness with clients of the wide range and levels of career paths and opportunities within STEM industries.

In February 2011 SDS and SEMTA staged a Labour Market Information Event at the Glasgow Science Centre ( GSC) for 60 careers and guidance advisors from across SDS, further and higher education. The day-long programme included feedback from employers across the spectrum of Life Sciences on what qualifications, skills and qualities they are looking for from a future workforce. A speed networking with a variety of employees and prospective employees on why they choose to study STEM subjects and ultimately enter a STEM career took up most of the afternoon.

Prospective employees included recent graduates, PhD students, modern apprentices and Science Baccalaureate students and included STEM demonstration sessions from GSC such as "Who Wants to be a Scientist?" and an overview of the up and coming BodyWorks display coming to the third floor of GSC.


These initiatives, all of which will undergo further development, represent significant progress against the agenda set by the Science and Engineering Education Action Plan and in response to the research evidence cited earlier in this section. Throughout this work, cognisance is being taken of the synergies and links across all of the SEEAG Plan workstreams and an effort is being made to more closely align progression across the education, academia, industry and the public sectors.

Moving Forward

As illustrated above, there are a plethora of initiatives and programmes aimed at improving awareness of STEM careers and enhancing progression into further and higher education and employment. Whilst continuing to progress these it is equally important for all stakeholders across the STEM landscape to find innovative ways to share and scale while encouraging consistency as well as equality of opportunity for STEM learners and STEM career seekers. A conference of SEEAG stakeholders gave the highest priority to co-ordinating existing activity and improving communication.

Recommendation 7.6
Education Scotland and SDS should work together to co-ordinate the provision of information on STEM related resources, activities and opportunities through effective communication networks and to encourage the participation of schools in activities that enhance awareness of STEM related careers. This should include capitalising on Curriculum for Excellence ( CfE) by mapping existing and future STEM resources and activities to CfE and communicating this effectively to education and industry.

Recommendation 7.7
The organisations implementing the Career Information, Advice and Guidance ( CIAG) strategy should recognise the importance of redressing negative or ill-informed perceptions of careers in science, engineering and technology through support for initiatives that enhance co-ordinated industry engagement with the education sector, including CPD, industry placements, and practical project work.

Recommendation 7.8
Employer bodies should:

  • invest more resources in overcoming the negative or ill-informed perceptions of STEM careers
  • institute practical programmes to attract and retain a much greater number of women in STEM careers.

Recommendation 7.9
SDS and others tasked with CIAG should promote greater gender equality in the STEM workforce through well chosen examples and case studies.

Recommendation 7.10
Employers should be encouraged to provide a greater number of traditional apprenticeships where appropriate training is provided over a three- or four-year period on a basis economic to both apprentice and employer.