A new solar jobs toolkit released today provides a comprehensive guide for the solar industry to meet the high demand for qualified employees and build a skilled and diverse solar workforce. This unique resource includes a detailed guide for setting up work-based learning programs to invest in current and future workers.
The guide, Strategies for Workforce Development: A Toolkit for the Solar Industry, was released at Intersolar North America by the Solar Training Network, a program led by The Solar Foundation and funded by the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office.
The toolkit draws upon two years of Solar Training Network engagements with employers, trainers, industry associations, and community organizations in a wide range of solar markets. It provides practical steps for the industry to better align training with evolving workforce needs to ensure a steady supply of talent.
“Solar companies are struggling to find qualified workers in the wake of the industry’s rapid expansion over the past decade,” said Andrea Luecke, President and Executive Director of The Solar Foundation. “Our research also shows that training opportunities are not well coordinated with industry needs in many regional markets. This new toolkit is a step-by-step guide for engaging workforce development resources, positioning the industry for stronger future growth.”
Research from the Solar Training Network finds that only 34% of solar companies have work-based training programs, even though more than half of companies consider work-based learning experience “important” or “somewhat important” when hiring entry-level solar installers. Improved training opportunities lead to reduced installation costs that improve a company’s bottom line. In fact, research shows a 1 percent decrease in call-backs could save the industry more than $10 million a year.
This toolkit provides a Workforce Development Action Plan showing how solar companies can partner with local workforce development boards and American Job Centers to support the hiring, recruitment, and training process. The public workforce system, now underutilized by the industry, can help solar companies find qualified candidates and connect them with diverse talent pools to increase hiring of women, people of color, low-income people, and veterans.
The toolkit also includes a step-by-step implementation guide for building a work-based learning program, including internships, apprenticeships, and on-the-job training. Formalized work-based learning can reduce the cost of hiring, streamline the training process, and raise the solar industry’s profile while building a better qualified workforce.
“The National Association of Workforce Boards is proud to support the Solar Training Network as it launches a new and exciting resource that will provide steps for the solar industry to better engage the workforce development system,” said NAWB President and CEO Ron Painter. “Workforce development boards provide a host of resources for solar companies to seek out and recruit employees, connect with training opportunities, and expand workforce diversity. This new toolkit provides up-to-date guidance on how to effectively use the workforce development system to attract a talented, well-qualified solar workforce, which is imperative to foster growth in the 21st-century economy.”
“Attention to workforce development efforts often fall behind policy, regulatory, and technical needs,” said Meghan Craig, Program Manager at the Oregon Solar Energy Industries Association. “This toolkit is offering an industry-wide resource that is greatly needed by solar employers, especially small and medium sized companies that don’t have a dedicated HR staff. We are hopeful this is the first of many workforce development resources that help propel this great industry forward.”
The Solar Foundation | http://www.thesolarfoundation.org