By Vaughan Woodruff
For industry professionals in many markets, this is a tough time of the year to think about big picture issues. There is equipment to be ordered, bills to be paid, and systems to be installed. If you are a contractor like me, newsletters and articles during this time of year pile up until that rainy day or late evening that you have the time or inclination to play catch-up.
And yet, here I am writing about a training standard for renewable energy and energy efficiency – the exact type of request that might otherwise get buried in the pile. Why would I do such a thing? Because IREC is asking for your opinion on a standard for training that has significant impact on the future of our industry.
Our industry grows. Funding sources fluctuate. New markets are created, and there is a demand for specialization where sustainable energy technology has previously languished. Policymakers and industry leaders are often forced to address workforce development issues to meet the demand for skilled workers. The IREC Credentialing Program is critical in helping these entities identify high-quality training providers and instructors.
Over the past eight months, a group of training providers, instructors, and industry professionals – your peers- have been working together to improve an already successful IREC Standard for Trainers and Training Providers. From this work has come a draft that is currently open for public comment.
It is critical that the voices of our industry – installers, business owners, salespeople, etc. – engage in this process. Many of us are aware of the impact that poor training can have on quality and, consequently, on the public perception of our industry.
We are key stakeholders in this process. I urge you to take some of your time during this busy season to make sure that the updated IREC Standard recognizes the types of training institutions and instructors we need to support responsible growth of our industry.
Review the content of the draft IREC Standard 01023: 2013 [PDF] Provide your comments. But hurry: the public comment period for the new standard for training providers closes on August 6, 2013, with an expected release date for a final document in September 2013.
Vaughan serves diverse roles in the solar heating industry. He is a NABCEP-Certified Solar Heating Installer, and serves on committees for NABCEP, IAPMO and IREC. He was the former lead solar thermal instructor for the Northeast and Northern Mid-Atlantic regions of the Department of Energy’s Solar Instructor Training Network. Vaughan is author of NYSERDA’s Field Inspection Guidelines for Solar Heating Systems, and has been published in Home Power and SolarPro magazines. He provides training for a variety of schools and organizations, including Solar Energy International. Vaughan lives in Pittsfield, Maine with his wife and three children.