Attracting the younger generation into energy


Courtesy of Courtesy of Energy Institute (EI)

While those already working in the energy industry may well be aware of the benefits of being a part of it, it might not seem like the most obvious career choice for those deciding their future, and especially for younger women. Marc Height spoke to Jaz Rabadia MEI about how to get the younger generation more interested in energy.

Jaz Rabadia has an impressive CV for someone her age. After studying a BEng in Mechanical Engineering and then an MSc in Energy, Environmental Technology & Economics, while simultaneously working at Sainsbury’s to fund her university studies, she started to realise the applications of the theory she was learning, and applied this knowledge to make energy savings in her store.

Jaz then went on to handle energy management over the supermarket chain’s portfolio of stores across the UK. She is an MEI, a STEM Ambassador, and currently the youngest Chartered Energy Manager in the UK. After going through the process of studying for a course that was dominated by males – Jaz was the only girl on the mechanical engineering course – she has some views on how to attract more young women into the industry.

MH: How did you become interested in the energy sector?
JR: I started off not knowing much about energy like most young people. In my second year of university I started to realise that energy usage, and managing energy and reducing emissions, is a real-life problem and a real-life application of engineering. I could see that this was an area that is going to grow – managing energy is a challenge for individuals, and for businesses, and it’s a global problem.

Energy is a concept that I could really relate to – everyone is familiar with the concept of rising energy bills at home. I became interested in trying to reduce the wastage of energy, and trying to give something back. I could see myself doing a lot in this area, as it makes environmental sense, as well as commercial sense.

MH: What is the best approach to get more young people interested in the energy sector?
JR:When I speak to young students and graduates about the energy industry, one of the approaches I take is to spell out to them how varied the job role is. What does an energy manager do? Well, you manage huge amounts of data, but there is also a very broad skill set that comes along with this. You need a lot of knowledge to turn data into useful management information, and a large part of the job is also around communication and engagement. I have to think of strategies to engage thousands and thousands of colleagues. Also, pushing the agenda to a board level is important. All in all, you have to make sure that your business is fit for the future, and that you can afford to run it.

The skills I use are very broad, but they are not the most obvious. The evolution of the energy manager has seen what people used to think of as an exbuilding services manager into much more of an executive role. It’s also important to get the message out that you can do this work for any company – they all have to get a handle on their energy use and energy spending.

MH: What does your role as a STEM Ambassador entail?
JR: As a STEMAmbassador you are committed to carry out at least one visit or activity per year with those that are deciding what to do with their careers.

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