Norwegian-style ‘Newton room’ STEM learning centres to be established in Caithness and Lochaber
Rural skills gaps in science, technology and digital to be targeted by Scandinavian-style learning centres in the Highlands
Caithness Duncansby Stacks - credit Theo K
A Norwegian scheme to boost interest in science and technology using dedicated industry facilities is to be trialled in the north of Scotland.
There are over 30 ‘Newton Rooms’ in Norway which sees industry provide facilities where school pupils can undertake a multidisciplinary educational programme in science.
These allow schools across broad rural areas to access state of the art facilities.
The first Scottish centres are set to be established in Caithness and Lochaber by the Science Skills Academy (SSA), a partnership between Highland and Islands Enterprise, the University of the Highlands and Islands and Highland Council and industry leaders. The initiative is funded as part of the Inverness city deal
It is hoped the centres will help encourage school pupils to consider careers in the Highlands where there are considerable skills gaps, like biosciences and renewable energy.
Economy Secretary Keith Brown said: “These new facilities for Caithness and Lochaber will address the shortage of skills related to science, technology, engineering and maths/digital to help us meet current and future needs of the STEM labour market.”
Councillor Roger Saxon, who chairs the regional committee for Caithness, said: “Newton Rooms are very well equipped science rooms and will encourage primary, high school and tertiary students to study STEM/D subjects: science, technology, engineering, maths and digital.
“It is good to see some of the city region deal money coming to the north and there is no better way to invest this than in building future skills and opportunities in our workforce.”
Lochaber area chair councillor Thomas Maclennan said it was “great news” for the local economy. “This creates an opening for major local employers to get involved with shaping the skills base for the future,” he said.
SSA funding was confirmed at a formal signing of the £315m Inverness and Highland city region deal on 30 January.
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