An independent report has found that an outreach programme from the University of the Highlands and Islands has helped young people across the Highlands gain better access to vital education in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM).
The university's STEM project, which has received more than £500,000 from renewable energy developer SSE Renewables, was recently evaluated by the specialist economic development and regeneration consultancy, Ekosgen.
Ekosgen found that the outreach approach adopted by the university has helped to lower barriers to engagement in STEM education and training and generated more peer-to-peer knowledge.
Dawne Bloodworth, the University of the Highlands and Islands' STEM development manager said: "Building skills in science, technology, engineering and maths is vital to the future of the Highland economy, particularly as the number of occupations in this field are predicted to grow and as the future of work changes.
"However, STEM professions often experience skills gaps because the number of students choosing STEM programmes does not meet the demands of the sector. Students can see science, technology and maths as ‘hard' subjects, so educators have a challenge in inspiring young people to take up STEM subjects.
"As an institution that provides work-based learning, college and university level education, we've been able to take a holistic approach to promoting STEM which has allowed us to address the whole education pipeline.
"We're pleased that Ekosgen's report has proven the university has achieved effective change; to increase awareness, to influence aspirations and to tackle the lack of diversity in terms of gender, ethnicity, and rurality in STEM professions."
Lord Jack McConnell, chair of the SSE Renewables' Highland Sustainable Development Fund panel, welcomed the report's findings and praised the university's approach: "Our Sustainable Development Fund has supported the university's outreach programme for six years. This partnership has enabled them to develop outreach activities across the Highlands, whilst building teacher confidence when delivering STEM activities.
"It is fantastic to support a project aligned with the fund's key theme of creating opportunities for education and employment through developing skills.
"With around 75% of Highland Council schools participating in the STEM project and more than 600 teachers and an estimated 16,000 pupils taking part, we are delighted that the evaluation has shown what a significant impact the work has had in the region. We are hopeful that the legacy from the project will continue for many years to come."
Councillor John Finlayson, Chair of The Highland Council’s Education Committee said: “The STEM outreach project was a huge success in Highland. The in-depth engagement with schools that has taken place was I know well received by teachers and pupils alike and I believe it has helped to build STEM capacity and confidence amongst students and teachers across all areas of Highland. I am sure everyone is really appreciative of the funding from the SSE Renewables’ Highland Sustainable Development Fund which has supported this great work.”
Ekosgen's report found that the University of the Highlands and Islands' mode of delivering the STEM programme was well-suited to the region, particularly among rural and remote schools, and that it was able to continue (in a somewhat reduced capacity) throughout the coronavirus pandemic.
Lews Castle College UHI, in collaboration with Applied Arts Scotland and Skills Development Scotland, have developed a new and FREE course, designed specifically for Scottish Craft Practitioners.
This flexible course, entitled “Sustaining Craft Business Practice” has been designed to provide Craft Practitioners from any Craft discipline with the skills required to establish a professional business or re–structure an existing business. With an understanding of how the Covid pandemic has impacted the creative industries there is a focus on:
- Design & Innovation
- Project Management
- International Trade
- Business Planning & Marketing.
This course has been designed by industry experts to provide a new model of teaching and training. Expert tutors and experienced practitioners will provide a unique learning experience that has been carefully designed to provide essential skills for craft businesses in a post covid era.
Sustaining Craft Business Practice will be delivered completely online with tutor support throughout. Study time is flexible, with digital access to course materials and recordings of ‘live’ networking sessions. Financial support for Childcare may also be available; dependent upon eligibility. Students can learn at their own pace with the support of tutors and leading industry experts all of whom run their own Craft Business on a national and international basis.
LCC UHI in association with AAS Sustaining Crafts Businesses project is funded as part of the SDS Creative Industries Freelance Workforce Recovery Programme supported by the Scottish Government National Transitions Training Fund.
Find out more about the course here - Courses starting January 2022 - Fashion (uhi.ac.uk)
This course is open to Makers aged 25 years or over, across Scotland. We particularly welcome applications from rural practitioners.
Evidence of experience or qualifications in making, designing, producing or selling Craft ProductsAnd A National Certificate or equivalent qualification at SCQF level 5 or 6 Or Two Highers at level C or above.
Alternative Evidence to demonstrate suitability may be considered at the discretion of the centre.
If English is not your first language, English for Speakers of Other Languages at an appropriate level.
- Please visit Courses starting January 2022 - Fashion (uhi.ac.uk)
- Covering email confirming whether you are an established Craft Business or seeking to establish a new Craft Business.
- 3 Images of your work and/or links to social media / websites
- DEADLINE: 10th January 2022
Selection will be taking place between the 12th - 14th of January and applicants will notified if they have been successful and invited to apply formally by the 15th January 2022.
The New Year offers a chance for a big change, with Lews Castle College UHI offering a host of courses that open doors for school-leavers, work-returners or simply those ready for a new challenge.
Study options from night-classes to degree courses are detailed now online as LCC-UHI lays out courses from the creative to the practical, and from deep-dive research to stimulating new topics.
The start of a new term in January means the beginning of a new block of study, with students like Heather Randle keen to explain how support and structured learning helped her plot a path towards a new career.
Heather began to study for an HNC in Health Social and Childcare Studies but was unsure as to the direction her career might take her. She was also concerned whether she had the skills or the daily routine that would allow her to study effectively – all concerns answered by what was on offer.
She said: “This course offered insight into a variety of roles within the care sector. It was whilst doing the courses that my interests began to veer more towards working with children. The teaching and support I received throughout my studies was exceptional and I cannot praise the lecturers enough.
“As an adult returner I was very nervous. I had three dependent children and no experience of computing whatsoever. I was never sure that I was going to be able to complete even the first year of study, but the lecturers did everything they could to support me both academically and personally. They were understanding of my individual circumstances and were flexible where possible to suit my needs.
“My HNC gave me the qualification essential to my current job and enabled me to gain experience in childcare whilst doing my degree, as it gave me the qualification needed to register with the SSSC.
“The degree, although not necessary for my current job, has been a means of expanding my understanding of child development and the needs of children.
“It has definitely given me greater confidence in my ability to fulfil my role and meet the needs of the children in my care, while working in partnership with their parents. It also means that there are other options for me should I wish to change my career at any point in the future.”
Experiences like Heather’s can be shared through a variety of continuing professional development (CPD) study options, including introductory modules that help students explore areas they think might interest them further.
For example, Introduction to a Career in Social Care (https://www.lews.uhi.ac.uk/courses/introduction-to-a-career-in-social-care/) is made up of five units that look at the sector in general, the essential skills for working within it, personal qualities, professional qualifications and sector regulation.
Exploring a career is just one element of what is offered from January onwards, with chances to expand or begin acquiring skills in the maritime sector, engineering and construction or in business, admin and IT.
For other students, the priority may be knowledge development to fulfil an interest or to support an existing role in the community but, whether you are a January school-leaver or a mature student wishing to build your skills portfolio, there is something for you at Lews Castle College UHI.
The full list of courses available from January is listed here https://www.lews.uhi.ac.uk/courses-starting-january-2022/ together with all the contact details and advice needed to find out more.