The intersection of two worlds

I’ve been asked quite a few times about the National Network of Business and Industry Associations. IREC was invited to join the National Network a year ago and I just got back from Austin where it celebrated its first-year anniversary.

A few facts. This National Network goes way beyond the clean energy industry as many major business sectors participate – manufacturing, retail, healthcare, energy, construction, hospitality, transportation and information technology sectors. Along with IREC, our friend Ann Randazzo from the Center for Energy Workforce Development represents the energy sector. The Network is funded through a collaborative partnership of Business Roundtable, ACT Foundation, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Joyce Foundation and Lumina Foundation.

The fundamental goal of the National Network is to better connect the learning and working worlds. Sounds relatively simple. But it requires a whole new way of thinking and acting, moving towards measuring job eligibility by demonstrated competencies that someone has earned through industry certifications, for example, rather than just degrees. Reaching this goal requires a number of strategic and tactical approaches.

First, if credentials are to be the signal for competency achievements, then we better be darn sure that they mean what they say. The National Network is defining the attributes of high-quality and standards-based credentials. This is a foundational step that adds to our work and other national efforts to send clear signals to the market on how a credential should be created and maintained to ensure legitimate claims of competency.

The National Network is also tackling the reach for common definitions of personal qualities, applied knowledge, people skills and workplace skills. This seems pretty basic, but we suffer a lot of miscommunications and market confusion because definitions vary and are misunderstood. New apprenticeship models and ways to make competency-based hiring practices more commonplace are also on the National Network’s agenda.

At this anniversary meeting, the National Network released a number of well-timed products addressing the issues mentioned above. For example, Learning While Working: Building 21st Century Competency-based Apprenticeships was published as was the Common Employability Skills document, a summary of the common skills that all workers need to succeed in today’s jobs, no matter the field or industry.

With thanks to ACT Foundation funding, IREC premiered our Accelerate Your Success video, a film that clearly traces why credible credentials count and reduce costly mistakes. We’ll be showing it at Solar Power International (SPI) later this month in Las Vegas.

And since I mentioned Vegas, IREC has a series of short forums planned in the SPI exhibition hall at which, along with showing the Accelerate Your Success video, you can hear about some hot-button regulatory and workforce topics. We promise no dull moments.

  • Sara Baldwin Auck will give a fast-paced primer on regulatory actions.
  • Sky Stanfield will dig deeper and look at what’s next in interconnection innovations, and she’ll also cover how distribution system planning can be transformed through an integrated grid.
  • Jason Keyes tackles fair compensation for distributed solar generation.
  • Erica Schroeder McConnell, along with SEPA’s Becky Campbell Howe, will look at what’s working with shared solar and what’s ahead.
  • Joe Sarubbi, Laure-Jeanne Davignon and Cheri Olf make the case that your company’s reputation rides on the quality of your workforce.
  • Larry Sherwood gives his standing-room-only run through of IREC’s annual solar market installation report.
  • I’ll pull it all together with a look at six trends to watch for in 2015.

So, check out the National Network’s web site for more information on their work and products  and do link over to the IREC web site for our 3iForum session schedule.

Talk with you soon.










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