School pupils have become the first to take part in a major new scheme aimed at inspiring young people into green energy careers.

The Tees Valley Mayor and Combined Authority has launched Net Zero Experiences of the Workplace programme to give students first-hand experience of working at companies thriving in the sector.

Around 20 students from Darlington secondary school St Aidan’s C of E Academy took part in workshops at TVCA’s offices at Teesside International Airport at the inaugural event hosted by energy giant SSE.

SSE is developing renewable energy projects across the region, including plans for a solar farm on land at Teesside Airport.

Year 9 and 10 Pupils took part in interactive projects based on Net Zero to develop their skills and attitudes, preparing them for the world of work.

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During the day, students took part in mock interviews with SSE staff and were given an airport tour. They also were given a group project to build a model of a sustainable Teesside Airport considering energy, transportation/fuel, food production/supply chain, water and waste which was then judged by Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen.

The Northern Echo: Pupils from St Aiden’s CoE AcademyPupils from St Aiden’s CoE Academy (Image: TVCA)

The session was the first in the Net Zero Experiences of the Workplace programme which will run to June. Around 700 pupils across Tees Valley will take part, thanks to support from major global firms including BP, Sembcorp, SeAH Wind, EDF and RWE.

The programme is funded by the Careers & Enterprise Company and aims to broaden understanding of work experience to include a more diverse range of workplace experiences, such as industry visits, job shadowing and employer-led projects.

Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen said: “Tees Valley is at the forefront of the Net Zero, clean energy revolution in sectors such as solar, hydrogen and offshore wind.

“Programmes such as this are essential to inform young people about the fantastic Net Zero careers opportunities available on their doorstep. It was great to see the outstanding work of the students, who can stay local and go far by becoming the next generation of talent to drive these industries forward.”

Managing Director for Distributed Energy at SSE Energy Solutions Nathan Sanders said: “Witnessing the enthusiasm and passion of the next generation I am confident that they are not just inspired but fully committed to steering us towards a net zero future.

As we embrace this transition, we must invest in cultivating green jobs and skills, ensuring our workforce is equipped to drive innovation and tackle the challenges of decarbonisation.”