More than 200 attend Girls in Energy annual conference

November 13, 2023

Some of the brightest young minds gathered in Aberdeen to find innovative solutions to food, water or energy related challenges, as part of the annual Girls in Energy conference.

The one-day conference, which was held at Aberdeen’s Music Hall on Friday, was attended by more than 200 girls from across Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire and Fife.

Sponsored by Shell UK, and delivered in partnership by NESCol and Fife College, Girls in Energy is a year-long engineering course for 14 to 17-year-old secondary school students.

The initiative is designed to encourage young women to engage with the STEM subjects of science, technology, engineering and maths. The end goal is to inspire them to consider a career in the global energy sector as it transitions towards net zero.

Throughout the day the girls worked in small teams to brainstorm ideas and potential solutions to sustainability challenges.

Mentors from the energy industry, including volunteers from Shell, were on hand to provide the teams with support.

Following initial presentations, five groups were chosen to present to a Dragon’s Den style panel of judges, made up of Gillian Martin, Minister for Energy and the Environment, Professor Lesley Sloss, an environmental consultant with the IEA Clean Coal Centre and Lucy Ferguson, Global Discipline Head Mechanical Engineering, Shell.

The winning team presented an idea for a seed bank and growth project to encourage people to grow their own food at home.

Katie Kelman from Aberdeen Grammar School, Ellie Grant from Lochside Academy, Erin Hay from St Machar Academy, Seren Murray from Ellon Academy and Lottie Gray from Mintlaw Academy were all presented with high street vouchers.

Gillian Martin, who is also an Aberdeenshire East MSP, said: “Engaging young women in science, technology, engineering and maths is incredibly important to support growing our economy and moving towards the just transition to net zero.

“Colleges such as North East Scotland and Fife College work closely with employers and industry to respond flexibly to the skills demands of the regions and communities they serve and support a fair, green and growing economy. The Girls in Energy initiative is a great example of what can be achieved by cooperation. I am in no doubt that it has over the years inspired many young women to think about a career in one of the most exciting sectors that has the potential to play a huge part in getting us to Net Zero, and will continue to do so. It’s a privilege to be invited along to play a small part in that.”

Simon Roddy, senior vice-president upstream at Shell UK, said: “We are working with partners across the UK and investing in the skills needed both to deliver the oil and gas the UK needs, as well as to make the energy transition a reality. Projects like Girls in Energy provide a valuable insight into the industry and will hopefully encourage more young women to choose this exciting career path. I am looking forward to hearing the teams’ new ideas and solutions at the conference.”

Duncan Abernethy, NESCol’s director of business development, said: “The Girls in Energy initiative has now been running for more than 10 years. We estimate that in that time more than 1,000 girls have been reached by the programme of weekly lessons, workshops and field visits.

“We are extremely proud of the Girls in Energy initiative and its ongoing impact.  The annual conference is the perfect opportunity to highlight the value of the initiative to the participants and to celebrate their involvement.”

The Girls in Energy programme was launched in 2010, with many students going on to pursue careers in the energy sector or in STEM related avenues.

It runs as part of the academic year and provides young women with real-life experience of working in the energy industry while also working towards an SQA National 5 qualification.

This year, more than 200 pupils from schools across Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire and Fife are taking part in the programme. They are drawn from 16 schools.

Together with its partners, Shell UK aims to help 15,000 people into jobs, with a focus on the energy transition, across the decade. This will include supporting skills bootcamps, training and entrepreneurship programmes, as well as working with organisations helping unemployed people into work. It is one part of its broader contribution towards an inclusive energy transition.