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Go ahead given for National Science Academy for Wales
A National Science Academy is to be established in Wales to help deliver a stronger, more sustainable and resilient economy for the future.
The go-ahead for the National Science Academy (NSA), a commitment under the One Wales agreement, was given today by Lesley Griffiths, Deputy Minister for Science, Innovation and Skills.
She said the Academy would promote the take up of science, technology, engineering and mathematics - STEM subjects - at all levels to ensure Wales had a continuous pipeline of people graduating from colleges and universities with the appropriate qualifications and skills.
“We need people with these skills to support the industries and technologies of tomorrow, to drive forward innovation in business, to stimulate research and development in universities and attract investment to Wales
“The importance of innovation and the role it can play in helping economic growth should not be under estimated. The National Science Academy will have a key role to play in ensuring we have the appropriate skills at the appropriate level to support the development of a vibrant and sustainable knowledge based economy.
“High level skills will play an increasingly important role in the economic renewal programme and none more so than in science and technology based subjects. We are investing in skills for our future prosperity and growth.”
She said the Academy would build on a number of highly successful existing STEM initiatives to improve the supply of scientists, technologists, engineers and mathematicians in order to support businesses so they can compete in global markets for high value goods and services.
A study into the current take-up of STEM subjects concluded it was necessary to work on the attitudes and STEM related skills of children from Key Stage 2 or 3 in order to bring about a measurable increase in the number of undergraduates in this field.
The Academy will therefore focus on education in STEM subjects from early years education through to further and higher education and higher-level skills she said.
The strategic direction of the Academy will be provided by Professor John Harries, the Chief Scientific Advisor for Wales who takes up his position in May.
The Academy will cover all Wales with four regional hubs and one central hub based at the Wales Institute of Mathematics and Computational Science in Swansea University that already manages the National Higher Education STEM programme in Wales.
Regional hubs will be based at Techniquest Cardiff and Wrexham and the location of the remaining two hubs will be confirmed at a later date.
The primary method of communication will be via a comprehensive website with content appropriate for different user groups ranging from key stages 1-3 to Directors of Research Institutes.
Its role will be to coordinate current and future initiatives designed to promote the uptake of STEM subjects; influence the STEM agenda in the school curriculum and actively undertake and promote initiatives that span the STEM ‘supply chain’.
The aim is to encourage the take up of these subjects from primary school through to university level and overcome any barriers – perceived or real – that discourage learners from studying these key subjects.
A sum of £2million funding has been allocated to deliver the National Science Academy.
The NSA will develop a centralised strategy for creating positive attitudes towards STEM subjects and careers through:
Promoting a positive image of these subjects to the public;
Highlighting Welsh successes and leading edge research capability;
Promoting good practice via case studies;
Providing a conduit for reliable learning and careers information.
The Academy will help young people pursue STEM subjects into Higher Education and at postgraduate level by:
Providing an advisory service on research careers, and developing collaborative models of research and research employment;
Highlighting exchanges between researchers within Wales and beyond - in universities and with business;
Launching a new STEM mentor service to ensure interested individuals receive regular and relevant information on STEM initiatives and provide a link to any help or advice needed.
Regional hubs will promote and market the work of the NSA and the STEMNET Ambassador scheme to schools and colleges and operate the Crest Award Scheme to all primary, secondary schools and colleges across Wales.
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