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Diversifying Canada's Skilled Trades

Diversity & Inclusion within the Renewable Energy Sector

Maja Wire header image
Maja Wire header image
Maja Falvo_Maja Wire

Maja Falvo

WiRE International Subcommittee and Advisory Council

Aleks Modelewska_Maja Wire

Aleks Modelewska

Advisory Committee Member

Zara Gallehdari_Maja Wire

Zahra Gallehdari

Zahra Gallehdari, WiRE International Committee

Roya Rahnejat_Maja Wire

Roya Rahnejat

WiRE Academics Committee

Mediaplanet sat down with Maja Falvo, Aleks Modelewska, Zahra Gallehdari, and Roya Rahnejat from Women in Renewable Energy to discuss diversity, inclusion, and the future of the renewable energy industry.


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Maja Falvo

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What advice would you give to young Canadians interested in pursuing a career in the renewable energy industry?

Climate change is the biggest challenge of our time, and investment in the renewable energy sector is driven by an urgency never seen before. It’s an exciting time to work in the renewable energy industry, as the industry is undergoing lots of changes and innovation. For young Canadians wishing to start a career in the renewable energy industry, I highly recommend doing research on the various aspects of the industry to understand which area to potentially pursue based on skills and passion. Getting involved with a volunteer organization such as WiRE is a great way to explore the industry.

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Why is having diverse voices in the renewable energy industry so important?

Diversity in any workplace is crucial to generate long-term value. Diverse backgrounds allow for different perspectives and generate nuanced discussions to create innovative solutions which are essential for the success of the renewable energy industry. Additionally, organizations that embrace diversity attract more talent and achieve higher employee retention.

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How is WiRE working to increase diversity and inclusion in the industry?

WiRE’s mission is to advance the role and recognition of women and other under-represented groups working in the energy sector. WiRE works with various partners within the renewable energy industry, both in Canada and internationally, to fulfill this mission. We organize a multitude of events, such as workshops, webinars, meetups, field trips, and award recognition programs.

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What changes can we expect for this industry come next year?

Government agencies and the private sector are increasingly working together to achieve net-zero goals, and the renewable energy sector is key in meeting emissions objectives. As such, more investment is allocated to the industry allowing for growth and exciting innovations. Technologies are being explored that aim to improve clean energy grids and optimize energy storage systems.

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Is there anything else you want Canadians to know about the trades industry based on your own personal experience working in this space?

Renewable energy is a critical area to focus on to achieve a sustainable future for all world citizens. Stakeholders demand concrete actions to lower emissions across all sectors to address the gloomy projections of global warming. Governments and private corporations alike are setting emissions objectives like never before, and renewable energy will play a crucial role in obtaining these objectives. Technological advancements in the industry have allowed for lower costs and improved performance of renewable energy sources. However, continuous innovation is critical in order for the industry to reach its full potential.

Aleks Modelewska_Maja Wire

Aleks Modelewska

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What advice would you give to young Canadians interested in pursuing a career in the renewable energy industry?

There are so many options to pursue within the renewable energy industry. First of all, it’s the future of energy, and people will always need energy. Second, it’s important to note that you don’t need to be a scientist or engineer to succeed in this industry. There are so many different roles that people can undertake, from engineering to communications to project management. No matter what your passion or goals are, you will find your niche.

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Why is having diverse voices in the renewable energy industry so important?

The renewable energy industry is constantly developing. Without diversity in any industry, the development becomes stale. We need different points of view, different strategies, and new ideas in order to keep the industry vibrant and exciting.

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How is WiRE working to increase diversity and inclusion in the industry?

The power industry, in general, has not historically been very diverse. WiRE is working to include everyone in the conversation to encourage women to speak up, even in communities that might not welcome women speaking up. WiRE has developed chapters in several countries around the globe, creating a community of ambitious women and a safe space for discussion and promotion.

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Is there anything else you want Canadians to know about the trades industry based on your own personal experience working in this space?

You don’t need to be an engineer to work in the engineering world. The trades industry needs people with a passion for communications, sales, design, or logistics. If you don’t know what your passion is, join the industry, take on different roles and find your niche.

Zara Gallehdari_Maja Wire

Zahra Gallehdari

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What advice would you give to young Canadians interested in pursuing a career in the renewable energy industry?

The renewable energy industry is a fast-paced and multi-disciplinary industry, unlike the traditional energy industry and new technologies are developed every day. Exposure to different types of renewable energy technologies, as well as experience with handling, analyzing data, and information technology could increase the chances to get better opportunities.

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Why is having diverse voices in the renewable energy industry so important?

The need to reach deep decarbonization requires more innovation and novel ideas. Diversifying the industry and bringing people from diverse backgrounds and experiences allows us to better understand the obstacles along the way and help find innovative and practical solutions to expand clean energy usage, as there isn’t one solution that fits everyone.

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How is WiRE working to increase diversity and inclusion in the industry?

Traditionally, women have had lower representation in the energy industry on average, while in some regions, women’s involvement has been very low. WiRE is advancing the role of women in the renewable industry through different programs in its chapters in regions such as Africa, Asia, and South America, among others. WiRE partners with government agencies and energy associations, and its local chapters run programs that are well-suited for the needs of each region through programs proposed and led by local women.

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What changes can we expect for this industry come next year?

Recent legislation such as the “U.S. Inflation Reduction Act” and “investment tax credits (ITC) for clean technologies and clean hydrogen” would help advance the industry by facilitating the development of more renewable plants as well as electrification by supporting infrastructure for electric vehicles and other types of vehicles that are not fossil-fuel based. This also would foster the technological advancement, innovation, and automatization in this industry. So more renewable energy projects and job opportunities are expected in the next few years.

Roya Rahnejat_Maja Wire

Roya Rahnejat

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What advice would you give to young Canadians interested in pursuing a career in the renewable energy industry?

My advice to young Canadians interested in renewable energy is to never stop learning and to attend energy-related events to expand their network. People you meet at these events could become mentors and sponsors of your growth and advancement in the energy field, and later on, you can create those opportunities for the younger generation.

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Why is having diverse voices in the renewable energy industry so important?

Like any industry or team, having more diversity promotes better idea generation and increases innovation as a wider variety of skills and abilities are brought together. Additionally, it fosters a more welcoming and collaborative organizational culture where people have a sense of belonging and role models to follow. The energy sector remains very male-dominated, and it’s our mission at WiRE to promote and advance more women in this field.

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How is WiRE working to increase diversity and inclusion in the industry?

WiRE is promoting diversity and inclusion in many ways, including increasing awareness and connectivity and creating mentorship and leadership opportunities for women interested in the energy industry. I lead the academics committee and can speak more about our engagements with students and young professionals:

  • Awareness and connectivity: We organize regular panel discussions and networking events for women to learn more about the energy sector and connect with female leaders. Additionally, we have student bursaries for students to attend energy conferences at no cost.
  • Mentorship and leadership: We organize speed-mentoring sessions to connect students and young professionals to industry mentors. Additionally, students and young professionals are encouraged to take leadership positions to start WiRE student chapters at their universities and get involved with organizing WiRE events.
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What changes can we expect for this industry come next year?

In general, diversity and inclusion, as well as sustainability, are top of mind for many industry leaders. As a woman in the renewable energy sector, I’m very hopeful and excited about the coming years as more companies are looking into ESG investing, energy efficiency, and renewable procurement.

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