The Scottish government is being urged to address the disadvantages which prevent young people from taking up science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects, amid calls for "systemic change" to prevent girls being locked out of the jobs of the future.
A report by the Scottish Parliament’s Education & Skills Committee cited unconscious bias, resource issues, deprivation and isolation as the biggest barriers and has called for new measures to increase teacher confidence in teaching STEM subjects in early years.
The report also wants the government to improve Internet connectivity in schools, particularly those in deprived and rural locations.
Committee convener Clare Adamson MSP said: “We heard so much about the innovative and fantastic work being doing by leaders in our schools and communities to grow STEM skills amongst our young people.
“These are skills which will become ever more critical as we enter the fourth industrial revolution which will see massive technological changes affecting changes to work and employment in the future.
“To ensure our young people are equipped with the skills of the future, we want the Scottish Government to do more to measure the effectiveness of the strategies in place such as the STEM strategy.
“But measurements alone are not enough. We need systemic change to address continued disadvantage which exists, as identified in the Committee’s report. We need inclusive economic growth, the fourth industrial revolution will provide so many opportunities for our young people and they need the skills to take up these opportunities.”
Last year, Scotland revealed its quest to become the data and tech capital of Europe with two of Edinburgh’s universities launching a scheme to train up to 100,000 Scots in data skills and help 1,000 businesses over the next decade.
The Data-Driven Innovation initiative – worth over £660m – is part of the £1.3bn Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal, and is being backed with cash from both the UK and Scottish governments.