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Workforce Development

The solar industry is growing rapidly, and we need a well-trained, expanded workforce to keep pace with this growth. SEIA is leading the industry in coming together to build a more diverse, inclusive, equitable, and resilient solar+ storage workforce. In order to reach SEIA’s Solar+ Decade target of solar comprising 30% of all U.S. electricity generation by 2030, the solar and storage industries will need 800,000 new workers for a total workforce of more than 1 million workers.

Apprenticeship Programs

Apprenticeships are a time-tested and powerful tool for workforce development. SEIA is developing resources for solar employers looking to explore, develop, or participate in registered apprenticeship programs. Following the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), which includes tax incentives for solar projects that utilize apprenticeships, these programs will become even more critical in supporting a robust solar workforce.

Workforce Development

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SEIA is working to create and facilitate the development of programs, tools, resources, and networks that benefit our member companies, partner organizations, and solar industry workers. Building a robust workforce can only be achieved through the active involvement of solar companies that want to work with community-based organizations, training providers, educational institutions, and other workforce organizations.  

 

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Source: SEIA 30 by 30 Issue Brief | September 2021 

SEIA’s member companies will need a pipeline of trained workers across the spectrum of roles from project managers to engineers, salespeople, technicians, installers, system designers, operations managers, executives, and a variety of business professionals. Roles involving solar installation and installation of related technologies including battery storage, field service maintenance, electrical work, and often sales roles to name a few, are some of the fastest growing roles in the industry, and they do not typically require a college degree. 

To create a pipeline of diverse, trained workers, SEIA and our partners must work to meet the industry’s short-term, medium-term, and long-term needs.

  • Short-term Needs:  Address immediate recruiting, training, apprenticeship, and career development needs, with a focus on reaching diverse, underserved communities and expanding the size of the workforce. Highlights of SEIA’s work in this space to date include these resources for employers: 
    • Recruiting, Training and Retaining Military Veterans for Solar Careers – Learn tips for attracting and retaining the highly sought-after military talent pool. (This SEIA resource is currently under development and coming soon!) For now, employers can visit this Solar Ready Vets Network site for general information and tips.  
    • Getting Started with Apprenticeships: Resources for Solar Employers – Explore apprenticeship options for creating an in-house apprenticeship program at your company, participating in a union-based apprenticeship program, or participating in a non-union based group apprenticeship program. 
  • Medium-Term Needs: Attract future potential employees to solar by introducing solar concepts, hands-on construction experiences, and career pathway opportunities at high schools, vocational/trade schools, and community colleges.  
    • SEIA is actively participating in discussions with union organizations, community-based organizations, the Department of Energy, educational and training providers, Interstate Renewable Energy Council, and other partners about the best way to address these needs 
  • Long-Term Needs: Bring awareness of solar energy as a mainstream electricity source and an attractive industry for career consideration to elementary and middle school students. By 2030 – 2035, these students will be the newest solar industry workforce entrants.  

 

SEIA engages with its members and partners in various ways to gather the data and input needed to communicate industry successes, challenges, and needs around workforce development. These efforts include but are not limited to the following:  

  • Solar Jobs Census and Diversity Studies in partnership with IREC  
  • Workforce Development content at RE+ and SEIA national, regional, and virtual events 
  • Forming a Workforce Development Committee of SEIA members who are experts in workforce development (Coming soon!) 

 

At SEIA, we believe that a diverse workforce creates a more resilient organization - one that supports a strong, equitable solar industry. Learn more on our Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Justice page about the efforts we’re making to support our members with this work.  

 

Looking for Additional Workforce Related Resources? Here are some external resources that may be useful for you.  

  • Identify and reach out to your local Workforce Development Board for access to local resources and potential employees that could benefit your business  
  • Post job openings to the National Labor Exchange for state workforce agencies to access 
  • IREC’s Solar Training Directory – Looking for a community college or other training provider for training? This directory can help you identify colleges/providers in your area with solar/clean energy courses or training. 
  • IREC’s Solar Career Map  - Looking to explain to your new hires about career pathways they could consider within the solar industry? If so, this solar career map tool may help.