More than 1,200 girls inspired by STEM at EmPowerCyber North East with Newcastle United Foundation

More than 1,200 schoolgirls are exploring a bright future in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) following a flagship event introducing students to one of the fast-growing and dynamic sectors on their doorstep.

More than 1,200 schoolgirls are exploring a bright future in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) following a flagship event introducing students to one of the fast-growing and dynamic sectors on their doorstep.

Young people from across the North East took part in the two-day EmPowerCyber event hosted by Newcastle United Foundation, combining practical and immersive STEM activities with thought-provoking workshops and insights from industry experts.

Working closely with the Foundation’s official technology partner, Sage, the leader in accounting, financial, HR and payroll technology for small and mid-sized businesses, the second EmPowerCyber event specifically engaging girls in STEM brought together 20 schools in the region to explore careers in cybersecurity and technology.

Hosted at St. James' Park, EmPowerCyber aims to inspire and educate girls about the vast potential of a career in the tech sector and arrives at a critical milestone in the lives of the young Year 8 students preparing to make their GCSE choices.

Inspiring activities include virtual reality escape rooms, codebreaking workshops, forensic investigation and digital security breach scenarios, app design, stenography and more.

Dawn Barber, Head of Business at Newcastle United Foundation, said: “EmPowerCyber is a key event in the Foundation’s extensive NU Futures programme provision and brings together hundreds of the region’s young people to meet with STEM industry experts based here in the North East.

“We are incredibly proud to provide unique, practical and purposeful experiences at EmPowerCyber to inspire the next generation of women and girls who will one day be shaping and leading the STEM sector.

“It is so important we support the growing number of women studying and working in STEM and EmPowerCyber is the perfect showcase to highlight the huge array of opportunities available.

“At Newcastle United Foundation, we are delighted to work with our technology partner Sage to make events like EmPowerCyber possible in our region and to ensure everyone has the tools and support they need to achieve their potential.”

More than 40 organisations, charities, Government, and universities all played their role in introducing girls to the tech talent opportunities available in the region, including Sage who teamed up with the Foundation to co-host the huge STEM event.

Through a shared commitment to fostering the growth of STEM education in the North East, Sage became the Foundation’s official Technology Partner in 2022 to provide meaningful opportunities for young people to explore a future in STEM through engaging activities and events including EmPowerCyber.

Ben Aung, Chief Risk Officer, Sage, said: "This event will help to remove barriers to careers in technology, helping to inspire the next generation of engineers, innovators and tech entrepreneurs. The two-day event is focused on introducing the possibility of a STEM and in particular a cyber career to pupils that may not be aware it is within their grasp.

“The shortage of STEM candidates is a major risk to business growth, innovation and broader societal development so support like that provided at events like this play a vital role to help bridge the UK’s tech talent gaps.”

Among the students taking part in EmPowerCyber North East were pupils from Newcastle United Foundation’s Partner Schools and Premier League Inspires programmes delivered across the North East, including students from George Stephenson High School in North Tyneside.

Andrew Withers, STEM Coordinator at George Stephenson High School, said: “We were privileged to attend the inaugural EmPowerCyber event last year which was huge success with our students so to be part of EmPowerCyber a second time allows a whole new cohort to explore STEM opportunities.

“The range of activities from the employers is always excellent and the students routinely give glowing reviews when we’ve talked about their experiences. They particularly enjoy the hands-on nature of the exhibits and genuinely leave the days feeling inspired.

“I think it really opens their eyes to the range of careers available to them, particularly with some of the girls who may have thought a lot of STEM based roles are 'just for the boys’. We are really pleased to highlight the opportunities out there with support from organisations including Newcastle United Foundation and Sage.”

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