The pandemic made the past year hard for most everyone, and for Ayodele and Femi Mason it was no exception. However, on Friday, June 25th the Mason siblings had something to celebrate: they both graduated from the 2021 Spring Cohort of Solar Works DC, a solar installation training program that GRID Mid-Atlantic implements on behalf of the Department of Energy and Environment and the Department of Employment Services.
“Last year, going through the whole pandemic really put us down,” says Femi, “But now things are great, I can’t really complain.”
The pandemic still imposed some challenges on the training process for Femi and Ayodele. “Learning virtually was hard,” says Ayodele, and her brother agreed. “Zoom was challenging, I’m more of a hands-on type of guy."
Luckily, Ayodele and Femi were able to get plenty of hands-on experience too. Along with the rest of their cohort, the Masons were able to practice the basics of solar installation on a mock roof at the DC Infrastructure Academy, as well as participate in a handful of real-world solar installs across the District. These installs came at no-cost for the homeowners, and will wind up reducing their electricity bills by at least 50%.
Now that the Masons have graduated the 12-week training program, they are both looking for jobs in the solar industry. The search so far seems to be going well; Ayodele and Femi have both been talking with several local employers and have interviews lined up. After a year of slim opportunities, this is just the break that the Mason’s were looking for.
Right now, the Masons are mainly looking at solar installer positions, but they have other things in mind for the future.
“I want to stay in solar for sure,” says Ayodele, though she is interested in design- and engineering-related roles in the industry. For his part, Femi is interested in working his way up and starting a solar installation company of his own, though for now he’s just focused on gaining experience and providing for his child.
Making solar jobs more accessible for people like Femi and Ayodele is GRID Mid-Atlantic’s mission, and while we’re excited to see where they take their new professional skills, it’s important to remember that there is still a huge lack of opportunity in parts of the DC metro area.
By supporting GRID Mid-Atlantic’s work in underserved communities, you can help build pathways into the clean energy workforce for those who are most impacted by the effects of climate change and environmental injustice. Donate today.