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by Ruaraidh Gilmour
25 January 2023
First Minister announces £900k boost to STEM engagement programme

First Minister announces £900k boost to STEM engagement programme

Nicola Sturgeon has announced a further £900k funding for a science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) engagement programme run by the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI).

The First Minister’s announcement, which is funded by four offshore wind project developers, will allow UHI to expand its STEM outreach programme to more primary school children across the north of Scotland, including schools in Orkney, the Western Isles, Shetland, Argyll and Bute, Moray and Perthshire.  

UHI’s programme, which has been running for the last six years, has promoted careers in STEM to early years settings and primary schools in the Highland Council area, providing materials and training to teachers to build their confidence and knowledge in subjects they may not be familiar with. The expansion will be supported through the employment of eight part-time and two full-time STEM coordinators.

During the three-year programme, the STEM coordinators will work with UHI partners, schools and teachers to deliver lesson plans and equipment, including ‘Lend a Lab' boxes, to support a range of topics, all aligned with the Curriculum for Excellence. They will also work with other agencies involved in STEM outreach to consider local needs and seek new partners and additional funding to ensure the development programme can be sustainable over the longer term.

Funding was made possible by ScotWind developers; West of Orkney Windfarm, Floating Energy Allyance, Thistle Wind Partners and Ossian.

Sturgeon said: "The Scottish Government's draft energy strategy and just transition plan, published earlier this month, sets out a very clear vision to capitalise on the enormous opportunities that a net zero energy system offers the industry, our economy and our climate.

"With ambitions to nearly double the renewable electricity generation capacity currently in operation while investing billions of pounds across the Scottish Supply chain, ScotWind represents a massive step forward in delivering this vision.

"A programme as transformational as ScotWind has the potential to realise even wider benefits, and I welcome this partnership between UHI and key ScotWind partners to expand STEM education across the north of Scotland, helping the next generation of our energy workforce develop the skills they need to embrace our net zero future."

Alison Wilson, director of advancement and alumni engagement at UHI, said: "This is the largest package of corporate giving we have received and UHI is hugely grateful to these developers for their considerable support. The ScotWind development provides fantastic possibilities for young people in our region to contribute to the green economy.  

“We want to make sure that every young person, across all of our communities, has the chance to be inspired by these opportunities, to be able to pursue their studies and to develop skills to achieve careers in the sector. Industry and academia working together like this can make a difference to the region and the choices available to our young people now and in the future."

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