On the same day the first group of veterans in the U.S. Department of Energy’s “Reach for the Sun” solar PV veteran training pilot program graduated at U.S. Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, job offers were extended to all of them!
Through the Solar Instructor Training Network (SITN), and with IREC’s expert guidance, the program provides four weeks of intensive classroom and hands-on solar training for military personnel who are transitioning from active duty to civilian life. Solar Energy International (SEI) led the training program
“I had the chance to meet each soldier participating in the Veterans Solar Training Pilot project at Camp Pendleton and was impressed with how motivated they were. Coupling that motivation with the wonderful training the soldiers received from Solar Energy International is certainly a recipe for success,” says Joe Sarubbi, IREC’s manager for the Solar Instructor Training Network (SITN), which played an active advisory role in the development of the pilot project.
“IREC takes great pride in knowing that veterans are receiving the best possible solar training to augment their skills obtained while in the service. These veterans, who were trained through the Solar Instructor Training Network, will be a valuable asset to any solar company seeking their employment,” adds IREC President/CEO Jane Weissman.
Key to the solar industry’s continued growth is the next generation of skilled professionals to support its technologies. That’s why the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) launched this pilot solar installation training program to provide military veterans transitioning out of active duty with the skills needed to become the leaders of the nation’s clean energy economy.
The solar industry has long taken a leading role in hiring veterans, employing more service members than any other sector in the U.S., according to the DOE. Building on this tradition, the DOE SunShot Initiative’s Solar Instructor Training Network (SITN) has partnered with three military bases to create the veterans solar job training pilot project, kicked off last week at Camp Pendleton, where the four-week training continues until February 13.
According to the Whitehouse, the SITN aims to train 50,000 new solar installers in total by 2020, some of whom will be veterans. IREC is the national administrator of the SITN and IREC’s Joe Sarubbi leads its nationwide efforts.
The new training project will connect up to 30 motivated, tech-savvy military personnel at each base with SunShot-supported accredited solar training institutions. Ultimately, lessons learned from this first successful pilot will enable the DOE and military branches to expand solar training access to interested veterans, tapping into the department’s nearly 400 solar training partner institutions across the U.S.
Service members in this pilot program will learn how to size and install solar panels, connect electricity to the grid, and interpret and comply with local building codes. This intensive training will prepare them for careers in the solar industry as installers, sales representatives, system inspectors, and other solar-related occupations.
“My role as a senior advisor is to ensure the veterans have a training opportunity that meets the highest quality standards, leading to valuable knowledge and skill development,” says Sarubbi, SITN project manager since its inception. “The goal is to have about 40 percent of the training be hands-on.”
According to DOE, three of the largest U.S. solar companies – Vivint Solar, SolarCity, and SunPower – already plan to interview graduating military trainees for employment, a step that will help place qualified trainees in the jobs they will be suited to fill.
Images: Solar Energy International