Teenagers taking part in the 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% of the workforce in the sector are women, but there are big ambitions to increase this to 40% 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.

Creative ideas already formed by the youngsters ranged from a weekly STEM club for young girls, to social media and TikTok campaigns, and even a Netflix-style drama series showcasing a female wind engineer. Several of the groups highlighted that more could be done to break down gender stereotypes in primary education.

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.”

Katie Brenchley, 17 from Hartlepool, added: “It’s been really great to see plans already forming about how women can be more involved in what’s to come at Sofia Offshore Wind Farm. It’s exciting that our ideas might help them do this.”

Kirsty Beeston, North East Community Engagement Manager at NCS Trust, commented: “It’s really exciting to work with Sofia to bring a real-world issue to these young people, as well as highlight how many jobs are available in offshore wind in this region. It’s a brilliant partnership which I hope will continue to grow long after the competition and we can support more young people to break the gender bias when it comes to jobs in this industry.”

Mark Gifford, CEO at NCS Trust, said: “One of the aims of NCS is to build employability and work-readiness and this innovative partnership with RWE and Sofia is an example where we are helping young people develop skills, build their confidence, break down barriers and fulfil their potential.”

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.”

To find out more about NCS visit wearencs.com

To find our more about Sofia Offshore Wind Farm visit sofiawindfarm.com