Sofia and NCS working to close gender gap

More than 1600 teenagers took part on the NCS 22 Enterprise Challenge posed by Sofia: to devise a campaign to encourage more women to enter the offshore wind industry.

Sofia asks North East teens how to attract more women into offshore wind

More than 1600 North East teenagers took part in the 2022 NCS Enterprise Challenge which asked them to harness their creativity and come up with innovative concepts to encourage more women to join the growing offshore wind energy sector. 

NCS (National Citizen Service) teamed up with Sofia's RWE to create a real-world enterprise challenge that asked the young people to create campaigns to improve the gender balance in the sector which at present has only 18% women. One of the world’s largest single offshore wind farms, Sofia is now under construction with its onshore infrastructure being built in Teesside.

For RWE and Sofia, it provided the perfect opportunity to seek valuable insights and advice from many of the young people who may join their workforce in years to come. While for the 16 to 17 year olds, who took part during their summer holidays, it gave them a chance to work creatively, develop their presentation skills and start to mould their future career ambitions. It was kicked off with an introductory film featuring two of Sofia's team members talking about offshore wind and explaining the challenge. 

Resulting concepts ranged from an offshore wind Barbie and a Love Island pastiche to a touring bus and the use of historical role models. The communications team at RWE will review the young people’s ideas and look to incorporate them into potential future awareness campaigns. 

During the challenge, the campaign presentations were peer-reviewed and then judged by RWE experts with three finalist teams invited to a grand final presentation event held in Durham in late August. (View a video  of the finale event here). 

The winning entry came from a team of teenagers from South Tyneside who picked up the main accolade for their campaign that aimed to tackle gender stereotypes using social media trends on TikTok and education outreach. Judges praised the team for their ‘finger down’ TikTok campaign that demonstrated barriers young women might encounter when it comes to entering sectors such as the offshore wind. The team also developed lesson plans for an education programme to encourage more girls to consider a career within the industry. 

Highly commended runners up from Gateshead and Stockton-on-Tees received praise from judges for their respective animated advertising campaign based on powerful women in history and a social media celebrity endorsement campaign combined with a multi-level education programme. 

The judges felt the winning entries could really support industry ambitions to increase the number of women to 40% by 2030, by highlighting the wide number of roles available, and types of skills required and by raising awareness of the opportunities in general. 

View our video of the NCS 2022 Enterprise Challenge here.

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