Fostering the growth of the US solar industry is one of President Obama’s unsung accomplishments – and he is also working to make sure a skilled workforce is able to grow with the industry.
Last year, his executive order set a goal of training 50,000 people by 2020 for these well-paying, middle class jobs – and now he’s raised it to 75,000.
The new goal builds on the success of the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Solar Instructor Training Network – part of the SunShot Initiative. In just five years, nearly 1100 certified solar instructors have graduated who, in turn, have trained more than 30,000 students nationwide at 400 community colleges. The program began with $10 million from the Recovery Act.
Focus On Veterans
10% of the 174,000 people employed by the US solar industry are veterans, and soon there will be many more.
Obama also announced the launch of the Solar Ready Vets Program, a collaboration between DOE and the Department of Defense.
Three US military bases are participating in a pilot program that trains veterans to enter the solar industry. The first class of Marine trainees just graduated at Camp Pendleton in southern California.
Training begins this spring at Fort Carson in Colorado and Naval Station Norfolk in Virginia. 200 soldiers that are transitioning back from war will get training during the pilot. Service members will be able to size and install solar panels, connect solar systems to the grid, and interpret and comply with local building codes, as well as fulfill other roles, such as marketing.
After the pilot, 10 bases will participate in solar training.
The program is enabled by the Department of Defense’s SkillBridge initiative, which allows exiting military personnel to pursue civilian job training, employment skills training, apprenticeships and internships up to 6 months before they leave.
Five of our largest solar companies will interview program graduates for jobs – SolarCity, Vivint Solar, Sunrun, SunEdison and SunPower.