U.S. military veterans are being urged to join the ranks of America’s solar army by signing up to a new Energy Department solar job training pilot program.
The initiative has been designed to help members transition from active service into new careers as solar power system installation specialists, electricians and sales consultants.
The program is part of the DoE’s SunShot Solar Instructor Training Network, which aims to add 50,000 photovoltaic installers, building inspectors and other solar workers to the industry by 2020.
Three military bases have answered the call through a SkillsBridge initiative, which offers no-cost training for serving personnel during their final six months of duty.
Trainees will be drilled in the sizing and installation of solar panels and developing other related solar skills.
“As more homes and businesses across America choose solar power for their electricity needs, the solar industry is growing rapidly, and demand for highly skilled solar workers is on the rise,” said Minh Le, director, SunShot Initiative.
“This new solar energy job training program will help our motivated, highly skilled service men and women gain the training they need to transition into leaders of our nation’s growing clean energy economy.”
With solar employment in the USA soaring 86 per cent since November 2010 and a standing workforce of 174,000, the U.S. solar industry is seen as a perfect fit for veterans; 17,000 of which are already employed by American solar companies.
Competitive pay for installers averages from US$20 to US$24 per hour (approximately AUD $25.60 – $30.75) – and Energy Department projections suggest solar could add up to 36,000 jobs by the end of the year.
According to Minh Le, solar hires more veterans than any other sector in America, an arrangement that benefits both companies and employees.
“America’s military veterans have the leadership qualities and talent we need to move the clean energy economy forward. Nonetheless, when the time comes to leave the service, transitioning to any new career presents a challenge for many service members.”
Five major solar firms including SunEdison (NYSE:SUNE) have agreed to interview graduates of the veteran training program, smoothing the transition for qualified trainees into secure employment.