South Tyneside teenagers win award for their work on National Citizen Service project tackling gender stereotypes via TikTok

A group of teenagers from South Tyneside have been crowned winners for their work on a summer programme aiming to engage, unite and empower young people

The 16-to-17-year-olds, taking part in the summer National Citizen Service (NCS) programme have harnessed their creativity to come up with innovative concepts to encourage more women to join the growing offshore wind energy sector.

NCS teamed up with RWE, the energy company behind Sofia Offshore Wind Farm, to create a real-world enterprise challenge that asked more than 1,600 participants to create campaigns to improve the gender balance in the sector, which at present has only 18% women.

RWE said 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.

Headliners winning team with representatives from RWE Sofia and NCS

While for the teenagers 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.

During the challenge, the campaign presentations were peer-reviewed and then judged by RWE experts with three finalist teams invited to a grand finale event at Ramside Hall, County Durham this week.

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 had also developed lesson plans for an education programme to encourage more girls to consider a career within the industry.

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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.

During a residential phase of the programme young people completed their enterprise challenge task, forming plans and then pitching their ideas.

One member from the winning team, Keira Brown, 16 from Hebburn, said: “I feel so proud about what we’ve achieved as a team. We decided upon a social media campaign on TikTok as we felt this was the most effective way of reaching young women and inspiring them to overcome any barriers.”

Tyger Emms-Hobbins, 16 from Cleadon, added: “The whole challenge has led me to take a closer look at the offshore wind sector as a potential career path. There are so many different types of roles available and women shouldn’t be put off by the stereotypical idea that jobs in engineering or construction are for men.”

Kirsty Beeston, North East Community Engagement Manager at NCS Trust, added: “It’s been a real privilege to have worked with the team at RWE’s Sofia Offshore Wind Farm to make this enterprise challenge a reality this summer.

“Young people on NCS have been able to find out about the breadth of offshore wind job opportunities available to them in the North East while they develop new skills using a real-word challenge.”