30 May 19

Hundreds attend Renfrewshire event to STEM skill gap

A charitable organisation which aims to boost the number of women working in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) is celebrating a significant milestone with one of its key partners.

Over the past two years the University of the West of Scotland has welcomed more than 1500 girls from local schools through the doors of its campuses to enjoy SmartSTEMs events.

The latest event at the university’s Paisley campus which was supported by headline sponsor EDF Energy saw 400 more girls celebrate STEM by attending workshops, hearing from speakers and learning about the careers they could have in the future.

The pupils aged between 10 and 14, from schools across the area, heard from Sophie Amono, Founder of sTUFFs; a digital marketing firm. They also took part in a series of hands-on workshops including a digital design challenge and “Operation STEM” with Police Scotland.

Figures show that at the moment just one in four people working in core STEM careers in Scotland is female[1]. Research also shows that in engineering alone 124,000 new recruits will be needed each year until 2024 to meet job demand[2].

Events run by charitable organisation SmartSTEMs target pupils aged 10 to 14 and aim to address these challenges and encourage more people from diverse backgrounds to study STEM subjects at school.

Today’s session was one of 20 SmartSTEMs plan to deliver in partnership with EDF Energy before the end of the year, reaching up to 5,000 pupils.

EDF Energy’s Scottish Business Director, Paul Winkle, said: “I’m delighted that EDF Energy is able to support this SmartSTEMs event at the University of the West of Scotland. The number of women working in engineering is increasing but we are still facing a skills gap in the industry. If we are to address that we need to make sure that everyone has the opportunity to find out about the careers available to them and feels empowered to pursue them.”

Marcus Ross, Executive Director, University of the West of Scotland said: “We are delighted to have partnered with SmartSTEMs once again to host this exciting interactive event for local schools. Each year, the event is becoming bigger and better and this year 750 girls attended across the two campuses. SmartSTEMs is about developing STEM knowledge, encouraging females to study STEM subjects at school and beyond, changing perceptions of STEM and inspiring STEM leaders.  

“We believe that everyone should have the flexibility to pursue education and further their knowledge in whichever area they so choose. This is why we are particularly pleased to be hosting SmartSTEMs at two of our campuses as it further exemplifies our commitment to encouraging and developing the best talent in STEM subjects. 

“Pupils who attended took part in a number of inspiring activities including digital design, engineering with Lego, working with microbits, building towers and bridges, music mixing, finding out what spaceships, orbiting planets, boats and acrobats all have in common, and even measuring the speed of light with chocolate. The girls used their creativity and imagination, worked as a team and used logic and judgement to solve problems.  

“This event gave girls from schools across the West of Scotland the chance to learn more about the exciting career opportunities available to them in subjects which traditionally were more focused on boys. The potential benefits this brings to society in the future is incredibly valuable as the pool of talent going on to become engineers and scientists increases.”

Stuart Macdonald, of SmartSTEMs said: “We are delighted to pull together many wonderful industry partners and scores of generous volunteers to deliver this great event for these girls. Proud to be playing our part in making Scotland a great place to discover and pursue STEM careers.”

Notes to Editors:

The schools attending:

Ralston Primary

Williamwood High School

St Andrew’s Academy

Todholm Primary

Linwood High School

St Marks Primary School

St Ninians High School

St Benedict's High School

St Cadoc's

Our Lady of the Missions

St Clare’s

St Joseph’s

Thorn Primary

Williamsburgh Primary School

Oakgrove Primary School

Kelvinside Academy

Al-Qalam Academy

Inchinnan Primary School


St John Boswell

Paisley Grammar

[1] https://www.wisecampaign.org.uk/statistics/2018-workforce-statistics/

[2] https://www.engineeringuk.com/media/1576/7444_enguk18_synopsis_standalone_aw.pdf

For more information

Fiona McCall
External Communications Manager (Scotland)
(T) 01355 846281
(M) 07813 232 347