Girls switch on to Energy course

Kirsty Hyslop and Ann–Maria Jees, aged 16, are students on the 2017/18 Girls in Energy course at Hazlehead Academy.

North East Scotland College (NESCol) delivers this Skills for Work Energy programme, which leads to a National 5 qualification. It is industry sponsored, by Shell, and offers girls the opportunity to gain an insight in the careers available within the energy sector. The course runs across Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire as part of the College's School Links programme.

Both pupils selected this course in S5 as one of the wider chievement options and both want to go to university after completing Advanced Highers in Year 6.

Kirsty talks about why she selected the course and her experience to date.
"I am deciding between two different routes at Uni — either Astro Physics or Oil & Gas related using physics. So out of all of the wider achievement courses I saw this course and thought it would help me decide what I want to do."

An integral part of the course is the opportunity to attend industry visits and workshops, allowing students to experience the energy sector first hand. One such trip is a day's conference at Woodbank, Shell's Conference Centre.

Kirsty explains, "I've found that the course has helped with my confidence. I can get nervous when I present in front a whole load of people. At Woodbank, we had to compete with all the energy girls from other schools. We worked in groups and presented at the end — I managed to push through my nerves with the help of my friends in my team. It was good meeting all the other schools and seeing how many other girls are interested in the same stuff as we are."
She adds, "We also went to Adeneen — a fireworks event in Mintlaw — and helped wiring large letters as part of the display in the woods and visited the Oil and Gas Industry Conference at the AECC."
Ann–Maria Jees doesn't know yet what route she wants to take at University.
"I decided to take Girls in Energy to widen my options and see if I would like it, and I do. I’ve been surprised at what we are learning — I think everyone should know this information. It's not just about skills you would use in industry but those you would use in day–to–day life.
"I can now wire a light; make tail fins for a wind turbine and build a solar water power heater. You don't feel like you've been learning because you've had so much fun. Once you do it you feel really accomplished."
"This course has been kind of empowering", she adds. "Normally if I was in a mixed class with boys learning about energy, I wouldn't be as confident as I am now. Because its girls only it makes you feel more comfortable with the subject and it is not scary. You are not afraid to get something wrong."

Kirsty and Ann–Maria believe that this girl's only class encourages more females to consider future careers within the energy sector.

Schools and pupils that are interested in finding out more about offering Girls in Energy within the senior phase should contact Heather Sim at hsim@nescol.ac.uk or on 01346 586137. Applications for the academic year 2018–19 are still open. In Aberdeen, the course will run at Aberdeen Altens Campus on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons next year. Alternatively, the College is happy to look at delivering in schools subject to viable class sizes.

Councillor John Wheeler, Convener of Aberdeen City Council's Educational Operational Delivery Committee, said: "Expanding opportunities for senior pupils in partnership with NESCol is an important strand of our wider ambition as a Council for raising attainment and the Girls in Energy course is also a great initiative to meet with our goals of encouraging diversity and equality. The energy sector will continue to be a vital part of the region's economy and its future success will rely on the knowledge, innovation and energy of the next generation. The Girls in Energy course is designed to help bring through a new wave of pupils with a passion for the industry."

Steve Phimister, Shell VP U.K. & Ireland Upstream said, "Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) are subjects at the very heart of Shell. Our industry needs talented people with relevant knowledge and skills in these areas. Shell aims to inspire young people to pursue careers in STEM through programmes like Girls in Energy."