Science, Engineering, Technology and Mathematics (STEM) subjects have long been recognised as key disciplines for bolstering the industrial competitiveness. Having a strong pipeline of STEM-educated workers is a priority for government and features heavily in regional growth strategies.
But the type of STEM competencies that employers are looking for is changing. Workers that have a versatile mindset, are able to work across different STEM disciplines and can embrace emerging technologies, will be in high demand in the future.
In response to the changing marketplace, many schools and colleges have been revolutionising their STEM strategies, diversifying subject matter and collaborating with employers to ensure that their curricula are relevant, up to date and aligned with industry demand.
Many of the top performing UK institutions have received or are working towards the STEM Assured® standard from the STEM Foundation. This industry-backed accreditation– the only of its kind in the UK – is a benchmark of excellence in STEM provision. It involves a detailed accreditation process by industry leaders to ensure that STEM teaching is innovative, fit for purpose and delivering maximum value to its students, companies and local regions.
At present, thirty educational institutions in the UK have achieved STEM Assured status.
Prof Sa’ad Medhat Chief Executive of the STEM Foundation says: “STEM disciplines form the backbone of any high-tech and knowledge-intensive economy. It is pleasing to see that a number of progressive educational providers are shifting gears to refocus their efforts on STEM related subjects, laying the foundation for the sustainable future of employment for their students.”
Havering College in east London is one of the recent admissions to the STEM Assured club of education providers.
Asfa Sohail Havering College Vice Principal says: “We are delighted to be recognised for the quality of our STEM provision. Achieving the STEM Assured status is a reflection of the hard work and dedication of our staff and students. As a college, we continue to invest STEM facilities. We have created and launched our Hi-SET Hub to raise aspirations in STEM subjects for our communities and students including those from disadvantaged backgrounds. STEM Assured will enable us to engage with our employers with even more confidence and enthusiasm.”
TyneMet College in North of England was in the first batch of FE colleges to be awarded the STEM Assured status in 2012. The institution has recently undergone and passed its three-year revalidation process.
Jon Vincent, Principal and Chief Executive at TyneMet College says: “This accolade demonstrates our strategic commitment to developing scientific and technical excellence and commends the efforts, of colleagues, students and partner organisations alike, in helping to create a strong culture and establish TyneMet as a leader in STEM education. At TyneMet, we place an emphasis on pathways to STEM industries in the knowledge that our students studying on STEM related subjects will be in a very strong position when applying to university or for jobs."
South West College in Northern Ireland, was also an early adopter of the STEM Assured Standard in 2012, revalidated its STEM Assured status this year.
Malachy McAleer, Chief Executive of South West College says: “We recognise the vital importance of STEM industries in our region. Micro and small companies form a significant part of our local economy. We need to support them with up-to-date skills to enable them to grow and compete nationally and internationally. For example, we are leading such STEM areas as low carbon technologies and sustainable construction alongside digital technologies and innovation. We also engage with schools. Our STEM Centre is visited by about 3000 pupils every year to ensure that we provide the right career advice and guidance to teachers and pupils. STEM is a strategic differentiator for us at SWC. We are very pleased to maintain our STEM Assured status.”
Professor Medhat concludes:
“Congratulations to all thirty institutions that have achieved STEM Assured – the gold standard in STEM provision. Achieving and maintaining STEM Assured demands an innovative mindset and a commitment to continuous improvement. We are delighted to see early adopters of the standard continuing to evolve, building new partnerships and opening up their curricula to emerging technologies.
All institutions that achieve STEM Assured accreditation are committed to creating inspirational and empowering learning environments, paving the way towards a more versatile workforce for the UK economy.”