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            How The Rest of The World Develops STEM Skills

            6th September 2023

            STEM education is a global undertaking to improve the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematical skills of children and young people. Every country around the world has a different approach to implementing it: whilst some are embedding it within their educational policies, others are delivering it through external organisations.

            In the UK

            There are various organisations set up in the UK to support STEM education in schools. The largest of which is STEM Learning which provides education and careers support and a national STEM ambassadors programme, and the British Science Association, a charity that develops reports and resources for supporting STEM learning. There are nation-specific programmes such as:

            • STEM Cymru: The Engineering Education Scheme Wales encourages young people to consider a STEM career path by giving students a positive experience working alongside professional engineers in industry.
            • The Young STEM Leader Programme in Scotland aims to inspire more young people to develop an interest in STEM and pursue relevant future pathways.

            The STEM in Education and Training publication sets out the Welsh Government’s strategic objectives for the provision of STEM for 3 – 19 year olds in Wales. This includes guidance for making curriculum links to STEM education and supports the 4 purposes of the curriculum in Wales. In 2017, the Scottish Government published the STEM Education and Training Strategy which sets out 6 high level changes expected as a result of the strategy, with the aim to increase employment in STEM-related occupations and where employers are more satisfied with the STEM skills and capability of the people they employ. Meanwhile, Ireland has developed a STEM Education Policy Statement 2017-2026, which spans 4 pillars:

            • Pillar 1. Nurture learner engagement and participation
            • Pillar 2. Enhance early years educator and teacher skills
            • Pillar 3. Support STEM education practice
            • Pillar 4. Use evidence to support STEM education

            The second Implementation Plan as part of the Policy was published this year. The Plan focuses on the many strengths in STEM education, while also providing a roadmap to address areas of improvement which encompass 45 actions.

            Australia

            In 2015, all Australian education ministers agreed to the National STEM School Education Strategy 2016 – 2026 and has two main goals:

            1. Ensure all students finish school with strong foundational knowledge in STEM and related skills
            2. Ensure that students are inspired to take on more challenging STEM subjects

            In 2017, the STEM Partnerships Forum was established as one of the key national collaborative actions under the strategy. The Forum brought together leaders from industry and education to facilitate a more strategic approach to school-based partnerships with businesses and industry across Australia in order to develop the engagement, capability and attainment of students in STEM.

            The Australian Government Department of Education commissioned the National STEM School Education Resources Toolkit in response to a STEM Partnerships Forum recommendation. The aim of the Toolkit is to assist schools and industry to collaborate on new STEM initiatives, form school-industry partnerships, and evaluate existing and future STEM initiatives.

            The U.S.

            The 2018 STEM Education Strategic Plan, has 3 goals in order to make the United States a global leader in STEM literacy, innovation, and employment:

            1. Build Strong Foundations for STEM Literacy
            2. Increase Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in STEM
            3. Prepare the STEM Workforce for the Future

            There are then 4 pathways representing a crosscutting set of approaches to achieving the three goals which include developing strategic partnerships, engaging students, digital literacy and using evidence-based practises.

            In 2022 the Raise the Bar: STEM Excellence for All Students initiative was implemented to strengthen STEM education nationwide – to ensure 21st century career readiness and global competitiveness. The initiative has 3 goals:

            1. Ensure all students excel in rigorous, relevant, and joyful STEM learning.
            2. Develop and support STEM educators to join, grow, and stay in the STEM field.
            3. Invest in STEM education strategically and sufficiently

            India

            India is the second most populous country in the world. In 2015 Prime Minister launched the Skill India campaign, aimed at training over 400 million young people in different skills by 2022. One such skill is STEM education. One challenge the country faces in doing so is designing the infrastructure and curriculum to support this objective.

            Since the campaign began there has been a focus on developing innovation and manufacturing skills from a young age. The India STEM Foundation works in partnership with India’s Department for Science and Technology to promote STEM education across the country, alongside organisations such as EduTech.

            China

            In May 2018, the Chinese Academy of Educational Sciences launched the China STEM Education 2029 Innovation Action Plan, with the aim of cultivating more innovative talents to enhance China’s competitiveness.

            In June 2018, the first China STEM Education Development Conference released the China STEM Education White Paper and STEM Teacher Competency Rating Standards. The provincial and municipal science colleges, teachers’ training schools and universities jointly established 11 STEM Education Collaborative Innovation Centres, which created the National STEM Education Research Collaborative Innovation Network. Then in October 2019, the third China STEM Education Development Conference was based on the theme of The Power of Integration – STEM and Subject Teaching. It demonstrates the close relationship between STEM education and social development.

            Taiwan

            In Taiwan, the K-12 curriculum guidelines issued by the Ministry of Education in 2018 integrated the STEM subjects into the science and technology curriculum. In order to promote the core literacies of systematic thinking and problem solving, competition and enhance expertise in the technology industry.

            To cultivate sufficient talent in STEM fields and to increase women’s interest in studying STEM fields, the Ministry of Education in 2020 introduced the Ministry of Education Institution of Higher Education STEM Fields and Women Researcher Cultivation Subsidy Program with the dual goals. Firstly guiding STEM students to continue advanced studies and enter the STEM industry, and secondly to cultivate non-STEM students into STEM fields in order to expand talents and activate new thinking in the relevant industries. In recent years, STEM education has been supported through the private education companies such as STEM Academy and Creative Academy S3.

            Educational policy around the world is principally based on a shorter list of goals with reviews for wider ranging action. This action, often implemented through external organisations, is enabling initiatives, partnerships and funding for the STEM workforce of the future. It is universally accepted that early STEM education provides the necessary foundation for those pursuing degrees and careers in the field. STEM education, if implemented well, goes beyond school subjects. It gives a skillset. This skillset move us to a knowledge-based economy and enhances sustainability literacy.

            MD Comment

            There appear to be a lot of similarities to developing STEM skills across the globe. The big differences between countries and continents is what happens after education and this is where scale and emphasis makes a huge difference. The sheer numerical advantages of larger countries outweighs any perceived intellectual advantage the UK thinks it has. More significantly financial investment and incentives in the EU, Far East and US massively outweigh the UK Govts levels. However, STEM skills are globally transferable, making the UK the most attractive the place in the world to develop your STEM career and STEM business could prove more effective than pure financial investments alone, absolute dynamite when combined. The question I have is, does the government actually understand how to do this?

            Posted by Mike Gorshkov

            Managing Director at Linea Resourcing

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