Industry and the School Curriculum

STEM-ED Scotland attracted funding support from Glaxo Smithkline (GSK), the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET), Lifescan Scotland, Rolls Royce, the Royal Society of Chemistry, Sun Microsystems and the Weir Group in order to conduct a study under the above heading.  This work was designed to complement our previous work on universities’ perspectives on priorities for a school curriculum that would best prepare learners for entry to university degree study in STEM areas.

A survey and structured interviews were conducted, with individuals across a range of roles in companies in different industry sectors across the regions of Scotland. In addition a diverse range of other industry surveys and reports were reviewed to extract views relevant to the design of school education in STEM subjects. Clear conclusions of widely shared industry views emerged.  These were fundamentally consistent with those from universities.

Full Report

The following link gives access to the full Report of this study: Industry and the School Curriculum.

Brief summary of main findings

The findings were indeed consistent with, but also complemented and broadened, views derived from the university study:

  • The single most important concern of employers was to improve the attitudes of young people towards the world of work. Commitment to work, initiative, self-confidence, perseverance and a creative approach were seen as qualities that should be nurtured through school.
  • There was considerable concern that the nature and significance of engineering, the importance of industry and the fulfilling and well-rewarded careers available were rarely appreciated and seemed not to be reflected in careers advice.
  • Next in priority was to enhance basic and transferable skills, notably of numeracy, literacy and both oral and written communication.
  • Valuable employees should have well developed problem solving, team working and planning skills.
  • Employers urged that every effort should be made to improve capabilities in basic mathematics.
  • They also believed that all young people should gain some understanding of engineering and of the impact of science on life.
  • They thought that priority should be given to developing a breadth of understanding of basic knowledge and to an ability to apply this in new contexts.
  • Concerns of employers differed in detail for recruitment at different levels. There was alarm about the poor work-readiness of many school leavers applying for operator or skillseeker levels of entry. At the Modern Apprentice level of recruitment it 3was felt that those applying represented a less well-qualified cross section of school leavers than previously. At graduate level there was concern about the supply of engineers and physical scientists, about their lack of appreciation of industrial roles, and about deficiencies in self-confidence and collaborative communication skills. In these latter respects a number of senior employers compared Scotland unfavourably with Ireland and England.