Mark Adair

The North East teenagers tackling gender stereotypes with Sofia Offshore Wind Farm

Teenagers taking part in the country’s flagship youth programme NCS have been given a unique insight into the growing offshore wind sector in the North East and had a chance to create campaigns to encourage more women to join the industry.

NCS (National Citizen Service) have teamed up with RWE, the leading energy company behind Sofia Offshore Wind Farm, to create a real-world enterprise challenge that encourages participants to work creatively, hone presentation skills and start to mould their future career ambitions.

For RWE, it presents the perfect opportunity to seek insights and advice from many of the young people who may join their workforce in years to come.

Now under construction, Sofia Offshore Wind Farm is one of the world’s largest single offshore wind farms. Located on Dogger Bank, 195km off the North East coast, the project’s onshore electrical infrastructure is being built in Redcar, Teesside.

Currently in the UK offshore wind market there are around 11,000 direct jobs, and many thousands more indirect roles. As a rapidly expanding sector, direct jobs are set to more than double by 2030, presenting clear opportunities for young people.

However, only 18 per cent of the workforce in the sector are women, but there are big ambitions to increase this to 40 per cent by 2030, which is where teenagers taking part in NCS come in. The NCS summer programme includes time away from home, completing adventurous activities, and picking up life skills before returning to your area and doing good in the community.

Around 2,000 teenagers in the region will have the opportunity to complete an enterprise challenge where they’re tasked with creating new project ideas around developing a more diverse renewable energy workforce. A winning project from each day’s activity will be put forward to RWE for an overall idea to be potentially put into practice.

17-year-old Eve Mutton, from Sedgefield, was among the first teenagers to take on the enterprise challenge. She said, “I’d realised before today that women are often under represented in areas like engineering. Something needs to change and this challenge has helped put everything in perspective for me.”

Zoë Keeton, RWE’s Head of Stakeholders & Local Markets UK & Ireland, said, “this NCS enterprise challenge is a fantastic opportunity for Sofia and RWE to raise awareness of the many varied roles in the offshore wind sector, allowing young people to have fulfilling careers whilst helping tackle climate change.

“Just as importantly the challenge will help provide invaluable input from young people into how we can attract more females into this great sector.”

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