Scottish STEM programme gets funding boost from offshore wind developers

A programme to promote careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths in Scotland has received a £900,000 boost from offshore wind companies. 

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon made the announcement that the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI) outreach initiative for primary school children would receive the extra funding during her opening address at the Scottish Renewables Offshore Wind Conference.

Ms Sturgeon said: ‘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.’ 

Extra funding will mean that the programme will now extend to schools in Orkney, the Western Isles, Argyll and Bute, Shetland, Moray and Perthshire. This will be supported by the creation of eight part-time and two full-time STEM coordinator roles, with the latter positions to be based in Caithness, Sutherland and Orkney. 

The three-year programme will see STEM coordinator work with schools and teachers to deliver lesson plans and equipment whilst also working with other agencies to consider local needs and attempt to secure additional funding for the sustainability of the development programme. 

Alison Wilson, the Director of Advancement and Alumni Engagement at UHI, said: ‘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.’ 

Materials donated to schools will include ‘Lend a Lab’ boxes which contain age-specific themed content and lesson plans in STEM topics. Training will also be given to teachers to build their confidence and knowledge in the subjects.

Funding has come from the West of Orkney Windfarm, a joint venture between Corio Generation, TotalEnergies and RIDG alongside Floating Energy Allyance and the Buchan Offshore Wind Project. Thistle Wind Partners and Ossian, a venture led by SSER, Marubeni and Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners, are also involved in the funding support. 

The scheme is the first co-funded project since the Scottish Offshore Wind Energy Council’s collaborative framework charter was launched in May and is also the first project supported by UHI’s sustainability fund. 

Stephen Kerr, Project Director at West of Orkney Windfarm, said: ‘By supporting this programme, we hope as many of these jobs as possible are secured by young people who live in the communities in which we operate.’

A similar programme in Wales was expanded last year after a successful pilot trial funded by a local broadband firm.

Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group


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