Solar Industry Creating Jobs for Highly Skilled Veterans
Solar is one of the fastest growing industries in the US and is adding jobs 20 times faster than the wider economy. The declining cost of solar has made the technology more accessible to both residential and commercial customers, causing a tremendous spike in demand over the last 5 years. By adding new jobs that require highly skilled individuals, solar companies have created an important opportunity for service men and women to find meaningful work upon returning home.
Almost 200,000 veterans exit the military each year. They return with excellent leadership, organization, and management skills, and often they have technical training relevant to service in the energy sector. However, transitioning back to the civilian workforce can be tough. Many vets indicate that finding a job is one of the greatest challenges they face because it is difficult to translate military skills and experience in a marketable way for employers. Through a new program called Solar Ready Vets, the Department of Energy has been able to successfully connect these skilled individuals with an industry that not only needs them, but one that can also provide longterm career possibilities.
Solar Ready Vets began as a pilot program in January of 2015. Participants go through 4-6 weeks of intensive training and gain a complete overview of the entire industry. Because the industry offers such a wide variety of positions, participants get experience in all areas from site surveys to installations to safety. Although some will go into leadership or management roles, they all learn how to install, manage, and test equipment to gain an understanding of how hard it is to be up on a roof installing panels.
The training also includes resume-writing sessions and job interviews with the top 5 companies in the industry. The program ensures that participants come out as a complete package, and every graduate thus far has received a job offer. Results have been so successful that President Obama has asked the Department of Energy to commit to expanding the program to 10 more military bases across the country.
Jobs in the solar energy industry provide veterans with the opportunity to have a meaningful career contributing to the front lines of sustainable energy and energy independence. Although the uniform might be different, these vets continue to strengthen national security by securing America with clean energy. On this Veterans Day we honor the 21 million living American vets and we thank them for their service and sacrifice.