Ask Renewable Rayna:  How to Explore Careers in Solar Power

Workforce development is a concept proposed in reaction to the economic impact inflicted by COVID-19 on our job market. Over the last year, more than two out of every five households experienced a job or income loss, with the majority of these losses occurring in industries such as food service, retail, and hospitality. As a result of these changes, more people seek to reskill and upskill in order to acquire access to emerging and in-demand careers like solar.

Solar photovoltaic installers were just classified as a federal occupational category in 2010, but the industry is now one of the fastest expanding, offering opportunities in engineering, manufacturing, construction, administration, and installation. Solar installation, which includes photovoltaic installers, electricians, and roofers, is expected to grow the greatest in the solar job market.

Workforce development efforts can help close the skills gap for those who wish to start a new career in the solar industry but lack the requisite skills. When it comes to workforce development, however, these programs are significantly more sophisticated and active than many people believe.

Solar technology is rapidly evolving, and in order to remain relevant, workforce programs must keep up to date on the latest innovations on a regular basis. The Department of Energy’s (DOE) Solar Training Network, which addresses a critical demand for high-quality, local, accessible training in solar installation and related skills, is one example of a workforce development initiative in the solar industry. It was launched in 2016 as part of the Solar Training and Education for Professionals (STEP) funding initiative and is managed by The Solar Foundation.

It is difficult to navigate the complexities of workforce development programs, but DOE’s Solar Training Network collaborates with leading solar workforce development and training organizations to connect people interested in solar careers with the training they need to enter the industry and solar employers who need skilled workers. Taking on that job, on the other hand, is necessary in order to aid people in gaining sufficient training with industry-recognized certifications, which leads to solid positions with family-sustaining salaries.

The purpose of an effective workforce development program is to provide training that leads to a good job, not just training. Solar installer and construction jobs are typically classified as non-traditional because schedules are not 9-5 and job site locations can change from week to week. Extant data suggests that remuneration ranged from $11.50 to $24.00 per hour.

A good work — in any profession – provides more than just “livable pay.” A rewarding job should give a family-sustaining salary, opportunities for advancement, and an affordable benefits package that includes healthcare insurance, vacation time, and a retirement plan. A successful job should also keep employees safe by creating and enforcing workplace safety standards.

As the economy strengthens following COVID-19 and job seekers gain confidence in finding solar employment possibilities that match their skill set and qualifications, firms must develop competitive benefit packages to attract and retain top talent.

Below are the regional training networks that remain active since the conclusion of DOE funding for the Solar Instructor Training Network.