The Solar Foundation is launching two new solar workforce development programs to connect transitioning military service members and veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces with career training, professional development, and employment opportunities in the solar industry.
In partnership with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s “Hiring Our Heroes” program, the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP), and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), The Solar Foundation is leading efforts to expand and strengthen a nationwide pipeline of talented job candidates with military experience into a range of advanced roles at solar companies across the United States.
These projects — the Solar Ready Vets Fellowship Program and the Solar Opportunities and Readiness (SOAR) Initiative — are funded by the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO) as part of the expanding Solar Ready Vets Network. With strong leadership aptitudes and technical competencies, veterans can help meet the demand for talent in expanding solar markets.
“These new programs will help companies recruit and hire veterans to take on leadership roles in America’s rapidly growing solar industry,” said Andrea Luecke, president and executive director at The Solar Foundation. “This is a great opportunity for veterans of the Armed Forces to continue serving their country by building and sustaining clean energy industries. It’s also a great deal for solar companies who are in urgent need of the high-value experience that veterans bring to the table.”
Through the Solar Ready Vets Fellowship Program, hundreds of service members will be placed into 12-week work-based learning programs with solar employers to facilitate their transition from active duty to civilian careers. These service members will come from select military bases in regions with high demand for solar workers.
This fellowship program will be focused mainly on management and professional roles, such as technical sales, system design, supply chain logistics, project development, and operations, in addition to installation. Through placement with industry employers, service members will receive valuable on-the-job training, professional development, and career guidance.
“The Corporate Fellowship Program will allow service members to learn more about career opportunities in solar and showcase their skills in an applied work environment while employers learn first-hand how much value military connected talent brings to their organizations,” said Eric Eversole, vice president at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and president of Hiring Our Heroes. “We look forward to collaborating on the development of the solar workforce with top talent from the military community.”
Concurrently, The Solar Foundation will lead high-impact initiatives to expand career opportunities for veterans through the Solar Opportunities and Readiness (SOAR) Initiative.
Through substantive partnerships between solar companies, training providers, and workforce development networks in high-demand markets, the SOAR Initiative will connect veterans with a range of solar training, credentialing, professional development, and employment opportunities.
Through this initiative, The Solar Foundation will work with SEIA, NABCEP, and other project partners to establish a Department of Labor-recognized apprenticeship; expand the eligibility of solar training for GI Bill benefits; and define expedited pathways to solar certifications based on military experience and qualifications.
“As we create new opportunities in the Solar+ Decade, we need to be keenly aware of who is benefiting from the jobs that we create,” said Abigail Ross Hopper, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). “Veterans are leaders and can help inspire confidence in the industry and navigate our most pressing challenges. Diversity and inclusion continues to be a top priority for SEIA and we’re thrilled to work with solar companies to make even more employment opportunities available to Americans that have sacrificed the most.”
“NABCEP is excited to work with The Solar Foundation and the other partners as we develop innovative career pathways for veterans and other underrepresented populations in the solar industry,” said Shawn O’Brien, president & CEO of NABCEP. “The diverse team of solar organizations that The Solar Foundation has assembled will provide the expertise necessary to create a program that will have a long-term impact on the quality of the PV labor market and the sustainable growth of the solar industry.”