Offshore wind week at Outwood Academy Bydales

Sofia and friends: the project's Graham Wright along with a supply chain special guest each day delivered a week-long series of presentations about offshore wind careers to students at Outwood Academy Bydales.

Different year group each day covers schools 860 students

Sofia's supply chain plan manager Graham Wright, along with guests from supply chain companies, presented a snapshot of offshore wind careers to all students at Outwood Academy Bydales during a week of morning assemblies.

As an Enterprise Advisor with the school, which is just 200 metres from the project's landfall, Graham's ambition was to give the young people from across the year groups a broad understanding of offshore wind and its careers by delivering a series of sessions each with a different guest speaker representing a different face for the industry. He worked closely with the school's exams and assessment officer Marissa Hedley to create a week that would offer students plenty to think about as they choose subjects and consider future career paths.

On Monday Graham was joined by Prysmian's Lewis Myers who works in the cable provider's procurement team while completing his studies at Teesside University. Lewis was at his alma mater having attended Bydales as a student. He welcomed the opportunity to explain his career journey - from schooldays to his current role - to around 160 year 7 students.

On Tuesday Nicola Harris, associate director at Seiche, specialists in underwater acoustic and marine mammal monitoring and mitigation, co-presented with Graham. She was able to present information about how environmental measurement and protection of marine life is a key part of the offshore wind sector, and one the year 8s at the assembly may not have been aware of.

The Wednesday session featured Craig Hillen of Van Oord, based locally in Stokesley but working internationally on marine infrastructure projects across the globe. He provided a broad perspective given the company's worldwide remit, explaining the many different type of roles within the maritime contractor and the various educational and training routes into them. This session gave the school's year 9 students an understanding of the breadth of interesting global opportunities in the sector.

For the Thursday session with the year 10 cohort, Graham was supported by Sam Dowey, managing director of Correll Group, provider of engineering, installation and maintenance services to the renewables sector. Sam gave an overview of his background in building up the company to it reaching a turnover of around £40 million per year. He focussed on the key role apprenticeships play in his business to ensure there is a a strong talent pipeline to enable the continued projected growth.

This day also featured a face-to-face session with two students who expressed an interest in engineering careers and now have an offer from Sam to visit Correll Group and find out more about the company and what it does.

The final Friday session, for the year 11 students, featured another Sofia representative, Haley Lloyd who is in the project's finance team and along with Graham is local to Teesside. As neither Graham or Haley have engineering backgrounds, their presence helped to dispel any myths around offshore wind being an engineer-only sector.

In total around 860 students attended the assemblies, all experiencing a unique insight into the offshore wind sector.

Of the week-long sessions Marissa said: "I really want to thank you for taking the time to provide these assemblies this week. You have certainly gone above and beyond the call of duty by bringing in all your different speakers from all areas of the offshore wind sector. If your input has had an impact on even a handful of students, you have made a difference". 

The assemblies are part of an ongoing relationship Sofia has with the school with other activities to date including an art project, international geography link-up, history field trip, careers days and involvement with the Champions for Wind programme.

Graham Wright with from left: Lewis Myers (Prysmian), Nicola Harris (Seiche), Craig Hillen (Van Oord), Sam Dowey (Correll Group) and Haley Lloyd (Sofia).