New initiative launched to help support women joining solar workforce

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Nextracker’s team visit the Casa don Pedro project. Image: Nextracker.

Nextracker and renewable energy technical training provider Solar Energy International (SEI) are partnering to launch a global scholarship program to support more women in joining the solar workforce. 

Women continue to be severely underrepresented in the solar industry, and according to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), women account for only 28% of the science, technology, engineering or math (STEM) jobs in the global solar industry.

This disproportionate gender gap largely stems from insufficient training and networking opportunities.

In order to address the issue, the ‘Half the Sun’ scholarship intends to boost female and non-binary participation to 50% of the solar energy workforce.

The needs-based scholarship programme aims to address the lack of gender diversity by increasing pathways into the industry and awarding financial assistance for professional training in the form of tuition fees for applicants pursuing STEM education.

Each year for three years, the program will provide 10 students with a full scholarship for an SEI solar training course lasting six weeks.

The following regions will receive two grants each: Europe, United States, the MEIAT region (Middle East Africa, India, and Turkey); Australia and Asia Pacific; and Latin America.

Applicants must be women or non-binary individuals and have earnt a degree in STEM fields or a related area of concentration.

Kristan Kirsh, Nextracker’s VP global marketing, said: “[The] Half the Sun scholarship will help facilitate awardees’ professional development and potential entry into the solar energy workforce.”

With the global renewable workforce set to grow by almost 30 million people by 2030, Half the Sun intends to shape this workforce with a more diverse pool of candidates.

Recipients will also gain access to Nextracker’s established professional network to bridge solar job placement and offer a platform to discuss shared experiences in the workplace, from the challenges of working motherhood to gender imbalances in the workplace.

Elizabeth Sanderson, SEI executive director, said: “With a 30-year history of providing solar educational courses and training, award recipients can expect to learn photovoltaic basics and lay a strong foundation for a career in photovoltaics.

PV Tech sister publication PV Tech Power explored the lack of diversity in the solar workforce in a previous issue. The full feature can be read here.

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