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Renewable sector leadership programme to develop skills for gender diverse future

The 2023 Management Development Programme for Women in Renewable Energy’s inaugural intake of 20 women are driving sector diversity to equip future leaders of South Africa’s transitioning energy landscape.  

“The global energy transition is not only an opportunity to change the energy sector but to also expand economic opportunities for women, and this calls for streamlined development.  Hence, the renewable energy industry’s Gender Diversity Working Group’s key objective is to pioneer the sustainable development of women, equip them with the relevant skills, increase their confidence to become effective employees, decision-makers, and entrepreneurs and advance to leadership positions in the sector,” explained Nomfundo Mbijekana, Chair of the South African Wind Energy Association (SAWEA)  and South African Photovoltaic Industry Association (SAPVIA) Gender Diversity Working Group (GDWG).

Research underpins this drive for increased diversity, in fact, around 32% of women are employed in the wind industry globally, with far fewer being represented in STEM jobs, compared to administrative positions, as reported by the International Renewable Energy Agency, 2020.

Four months into the nine-month programme, candidates have reported on the value of the content, opportunities for both career and personal development, and the importance of peer collaboration that will no doubt benefit the advancement of the industry, which is critical at this time in the country’s rapidly evolving energy landscape.

In alignment with the requirements of SAWEA and SAPVIA, the content-rich programme was tailored for the industry by Wits Business School. It offers depth – a challenging and comprehensive experience that will greatly contribute to the growth of the sector. The aim of the course is to equip women, who are currently in lower and middle management in the sector, with the skills necessary to accelerate their growth and development into senior and executive positions (for technical and non-technical positions).

“Although requiring a significant time commitment, candidates have found the course stimulating and valuable. The convenience of hybrid class attendance also enables participants to balance their respective work and life commitments, and garnering support from their respective organisations to participate in the programme.  Furthermore, it is encouraging that feedback from participants suggests that the content is necessary for their growth in the industry, which is in line with the mandate of addressing gender diversity matters within the renewable energy industry, to ensure sector gender diversity objectives are met. This includes improving gender representation and reducing barriers to entry and progression that adversely affect women. The structure of the content is proving to encourage new ways of thinking and strategising which the candidates may not have been exposed to before,” said Morongoa Ramaboa, Chief Communications Officer at SAWEA.

Already looking ahead to the 2024 intake, the next cohort is expected to sign up during quarter three and four of this year with programme adjustments likely to encompass case studies and developments from SAWEA, to further enhance the learning experience.

The Management Development Programme is fully endorsed and co-funded by the EWSETA, as well as industry, showing commitment to working together.

The programme is founded on the key principles of self-development; understanding business models; design thinking for strategic management; managing people; as well as leadership, with several electives, proven attractive to the sector at large.