Building a better industry with women

Christine Kennedy is a passionate advocate for women in the solar industry.

When she heard about our 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.

More benefits and case studies

To read about the experiences of apprentices in other industries who have completed their apprenticeships through the GTOs delivering our program, see:

To read about how hiring a Solar Victoria apprentice through a GTO can save your business considerable time and resources, see: Four big benefits of hiring an apprentice through a Group Training Organisation.

More information

If you are interested in becoming a Solar Victoria apprentice or host employer, please contact:

GTO Name Contact
Apprenticeships Group Australia (AGA) Kellie Marks
0488 434 254

AGA website
1300 000 242
Ai Group Apprentice and Trainee Centre Stephanie O’Neill
(03) 9867 0281

Ai Group website
1300 761 944

For information about other initiatives helping to grow Victoria’s clean energy workforce, see Training and workforce development.

For general enquiries about Solar Victoria’s training and workforce development package, please email or call our Customer Service team during business hours 8:00am – 6:00pm Monday – Friday (except public holidays) on 1300 376 393.


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