New US Solar Workforce Development Program will facilitate the training of more skilled workers

With the number of US solar jobs doubling over the last six years, and the solar industry adding workforce at a rate almost 12 times faster than the economy in general, the need to have skilled solar workers is getting high.

However, as a relatively new field, employment infrastructure and training opportunities in the solar industry haven’t been nearly as robust as in other established industries, but a new program might help change that.

US Solar Workforce Development

A new solar workforce development program, which is funded by the US Department of Energy (DOE) SunShot Initiative, is said to facilitate the booming US solar industry to meet the growing demand for qualified and trained workers. Backed by $2.1 million in funding over two years, the new Solar Training Network, is intended to enhance and build upon the current training resources available to both solar employers and potential solar employees. It is said to an integral part of helping meet President Obama’s commitment of training at least 75,000 people for careers in the solar industry by the year 2020.

Andrea Luecke, President and Executive Director of The Solar Foundation said, “As the number of solar jobs increases dramatically each year, the Solar Training Network will help give job seekers the training opportunities they need, while helping employers gain access to qualified candidates. A lot of great work has already been conducted by the Interstate Renewable Energy Council and the Department of Energy, and we look forward to building a sustainable program that will meet the workforce needs of the solar industry for years to come.”

The Solar Foundation is said to lead this solar workforce development initiative, which seeks to “develop and strengthen connections between solar trainers, solar employers, job seekers, workforce development boards, and other key industry leaders.”

The training program is also anticipated to “ignite an industry-wide discussion” about solar career issues, among which are career paths, talent acquisition, standards for solar training, and best practices in solar installation. This new program will build upon the work of the DOE’s Solar Instructor Training Network (SITN) with the joints efforts of experts in a variety of solar career, solar training, and workforce development topics, and is expected to help boost new research into the solar industry’s solar labor market, employment demand, and the potential costs and savings of increased training for solar workforce.

The new initiative will benefit solar workers and employers alike by providing a “job seeker-to-employer connection platform,” along with solar job fairs, solar training resources, and training events, a comprehensive national directory of solar companies, and a directory of solar training providers.

Other partners in the Solar Training Network include the Solar Energy Industries Association, GRID Alternatives, Solar Energy International, the National Association of Workforce Boards, the Florida Solar Energy Center, and the American Association of Community Colleges.

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