Inspiring region’s workforce

Young people across the Highlands and Islands are to be encouraged and inspired to take qualifications in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM), thanks to Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) and the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI).

HIE has been successful in its bid to secure a new 45 month contract with STEMNET, a national organisation that creates opportunities to inspire young people in STEM.

The new arrangements will see the development agency continuing to expand its successful STEM Ambassador programme and entering into partnership with UHI, who will deliver the STEM Schools Advisory Network.

There are now in excess of 500 STEM Ambassadors from more than 100 businesses and organisations in the Highlands and Islands who volunteer their time to inspire and enthuse young people, helping to bring STEM subjects alive through their own first hand experience.

These Ambassadors represent a wide range of companies across all STEM disciplines and at all levels, from apprentice engineers to chief executives. They act as a free resource to all secondary schools across the region and can help with classroom projects, lunchtime STEM clubs or by giving careers talks.

Janice Wallace, STEM Ambassador Coordinator from HIE said: “Many young people’s careers are influenced by the people they come into contact with and our Ambassadors act as positive role models for STEM subjects. They help to represent the many industries which rely on STEM skilled people and they show the great diversity of opportunities available within the region.”

UHI is currently advertising for a STEMNET coordinator whose role will include providing resources and information to teachers which supports the STEM curriculum and encouraging them to incorporate STEM Ambassador activities into their teaching.

Ian Leslie, Dean of Science, Health and Education said: “UHI has a key role to play in increasing awareness of STEM and the opportunities available locally. By reaching outside the classroom, teachers and lecturers collaborate across subjects, enhance and enrich the school curriculum, make links with the world of work, and use varied contexts to help young people relate school science and mathematics with their real-world experience of STEM.

“Effective and inspiring teachers, are vital to raising students’ enjoyment of, enthusiasm for, and achievement in STEM subjects and through our delivery of the STEM Schools Advisory Network we intend to support them in the best way we can.”

The contract, which runs from 1 July 2011 to 31 March 2015, covers the region’s 74 secondary schools in Highland, Moray, Argyll and Bute, Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles.

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