Midlothian Science Zone Business Forum go back to school

Published: 23 February 2023

In this MSZ Business Forum, attendees participated in an interesting and thought-provoking round table discussion led by representatives from Skills Development Scotland (SDS), Developing the Young Workforce (DYW) and Lasswade High School.

On Tuesday 14th February, Midlothian Science Zone Business Forum guests gathered at Roslin Innovation Centre, the business hub of the University of Edinburgh Easter Bush Campus, to hear first hand about plans for Scottish Education reform and what this means for young people and employers - and ways our science community can work better with local schools to develop the future talent pipeline.

Post global pandemic and post Brexit has changed the workplace landscape, and the opportunities for young people, so schools are keen to work together with employers to help equip and guide pupils in routes to future employment and careers.

A current National Consultation on education reform for a transformation of the education system in Scotland are exciting and take a more skills-based approach, similar to the European model, focused more on practical experience with on the job training and apprenticeship driven model and less of a focus on qualifications resulting from the current exam-driven education system.

This proposition is attractive to organisations and businesses 'in the zone', who in turn expressed a desire to reach out to local schools with the support of Developing the Young Workforce (DYW) whose role it is to provide a link between schools and industry.

Midlothian Science Zone consists of a science and research park environment, co-located with academic institutions, however we appreciate that further education does not suit everyone and some employers prefer raw talent, to train and develop the workforce directly. This is an area that schools want to develop and to work with employers to identify the attributes and skills in young people that they are looking for so these can be nurtured.

Lynsey Davidson, Area Manager for East and Midlothian Skills Development Scotland (SDS), explained that their role is to work proactively with companies across the region and to support and mobilise employers to make the most of apprenticeships, to enable young people and influence the skills system. Modern day Foundation Apprenticeships enable businesses to grow their own talent; a partnership collaboration between the employer and student which suits both and helps the pupil make decisions on the route to their future career.

Work experience opportunities are limited in a science and research environment, with the challenges of health and safety and security, more important is the relationship with young people developing their skills and implementing a process of learning. This also provides an opportunity for business to meet their corporate and social responsibilities within their community.

Emma Duncan, Programme Delivery Manager for DYW Edinburgh, Midlothian and East Lothian, talked about the Young Person’s Guarantee, a Scottish Government initiative that was set up to support young people to find a positive destination.

Employers can pledge a commitment in supporting young people - this could be through activities such as attending careers fairs, supporting with employability skills sessions (CV writing, mock interviews etc), as well as industry insight sessions, mentoring and work placements. Participation in this programme is a positive way to be recognised by Scottish Government for supporting young people, as well as allowing employers to access the future talent pipeline.

Campbell Hornell, Headteacher of Lasswade High School explained, we live in an uncertain world which means that skills development, raising the awareness of employment opportunities for young people and preparing them for the world of work is vital. This can only be achieved through open communication and cooperation between schools and employers, and a mentorship scheme to ensure that this is fluid.

Ebsoc Workshops

The facilities, workshops and education resources that the Easter Bush Science Outreach Centre (EBSOC) has available can provide an introduction to STEM learning (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) and provides experience of a lab environment to help inspire young people to consider science as a future career.

Attendees at the Business Forum were excited about engaging with DYW, SDS and local schools, and we very much hope that this relationship can be built on with introductions, communication and events to encourage both pupils and businesses in the zone to connect.

Meanwhile, please consider getting involved in Scottish Apprenticeship Week from 6th to 10th March, showcasing how apprenticeships are unlocking potential in people and businesses and ways employers can support this campaign.


If you missed this MSZ Business Forum and are interested in finding out more about the research and expertise that were presented, please email Emma McCallum, MSZ Project Coordinator. 

 The purpose of MSZ Business Forum is to create an opportunity for discussion, collaboration and awareness of other businesses 'in the zone'.  The next event will be held in April 2023, and details of host and theme will be announced soon - as always there will be time for networking.

To be kept informed of forthcoming events or opportunities for collaboration, please contact Emma McCallum, Project Coordinator. 

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