The University of Aberdeen offers a postgraduate diploma in education for local authority staff, which was developed using Scottish Government funding. The programme is offered in a range of subjects, including technological education. In addition, the University of Highlands and Islands offers a postgraduate diploma in education. As a new minister, I hope to discuss expansion of that particular provision with universities and local authority partners, always with the caveat that we must maintain the quality of students who undertake teacher education programmes.
The number of technical classes in my constituency has decreased and in some schools they have stopped altogether, due to a lack of technical teachers in the area. Peterhead academy, for example, has lost three of its five technical teachers in the past month, which means that metalwork classes have ceased there. If pupils are not able to take the relevant courses at school to qualify for an apprenticeship, there will be a knock-on effect for local engineering businesses. Will the minister act now to end that cycle and get more teachers trained through local universities to allow young people in the north-east to pursue the careers that they want?
Peter Chapman has highlighted an important subject. He knows the challenge of attracting teachers into science, technology, engineering and mathematics and on to courses at universities and colleges. It is currently a challenge not only in Scotland but in many European countries, which is why Scotland has a STEM strategy. We are taking a number of actions to improve teacher recruitment in those challenging subject areas. We support universities and the development of new routes into teaching, we offer bursaries of £20,000 for career changers to do teacher training in certain STEM subjects and we are delivering our teacher recruitment campaign, teaching makes people, which focuses on STEM and other subjects for which the demand is the greatest at the moment. I assure the member that we are taking a lot of action, but we are always open to new ideas. The subject is very important, as he has highlighted, and it needs to be addressed.