Total Solar Solutions Australia invests in women in trades program

Project Manager - Knox Council
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Christine Kennedy is a passionate advocate for women in the solar industry.

When she heard about the Apprenticeships for Women program, she jumped at the chance to employ Madi and Darcey.

Christine is well placed to know about the benefits of more women working in the solar industry. She is a founding member of Australian Women in Solar Energy and also an industry representative on the Solar Victoria Industry and Consumer Reference Group.

As the General Manager at Total Solar Solutions Australia, Christine knows first hand the tremendous value that comes with more women in the workplace – creating better teams and better collaboration. She naturally jumped at the chance to hire two women apprentices when she heard about the Solar Victoria Apprenticeships for Women initiative.

“It’s about collaborating with women and trying to encourage more diversity in the industry.” – Christine Kennedy.

The Solar Victoria Apprenticeships for Women program is delivered through two Group Training Organisations (GTO): AGA and Ai Group Apprentice and Trainee Centre. Under the program, host employers save 50 per cent on hire costs for the first two years of an apprenticeship. Apprentices receive additional six-monthly financial incentives, safety training and a tools and PPE (personal protective equipment) allowance.

For first year apprentice electricians, Darcey White and Madi Ward, the benefits are more far reaching than the immediate incentives delivered through the program.

Darcey says: “I always wanted to be an electrician. My future dream is to start my own business and to have an all-female electrical company.”

But shifting long established cultural norms and stereotypes can be challenging as an individual. This is one of the reasons why Darcey says: “I liked that they’d set up something purely for women. Although it is getting better, it’s still really, really difficult for women to get into trades.”

We hope more women will follow in Darcey and Madi’s footsteps. Women are significantly under-represented in the solar industry, making up less than one per cent of electricians, plumbers, solar PV and battery designers and installers, and licensed electrical inspectors.

So far, Darcey and Madi’s experience has been positive and sets a shining example for other women to follow their dream of becoming qualified in a trade.

“I love working with another female apprentice. It’s so good to see more women getting into [trade apprenticeships] – and girls being made to feel part of the team.” – Darcey White.

“Most trades are still male dominated…. Working with another female has been encouraging.” – Madi Ward.

Christine is naturally just as positive and encouraging.

“I definitely recommend solar retailers look at hiring women through the Apprenticeships for Women program. I know the positive impacts it’s had within our team can benefit other businesses as well.” – Christine Kennedy.

The future is also looking optimistic. Demand for clean energy is surging, and employment in renewables is on the rise. Victoria is the fastest growing state for jobs, according to ABS data.

Now could be a good time for you to join the Solar Victoria Apprenticeships for Women program and help grow Victoria’s clean energy workforce. Applications for apprentices and host employers are open until 31 December 2022.

Find out about the Solar Victoria apprenticeships for women

Project Manager - Knox Council