From code officials to realtors, insurers to the fire service, there are a number of industries that impact the solar transaction, and the ‘soft’ (non-hardware) costs of going solar. IREC leads national and state efforts to streamline the permitting process to help address these costs, while simultaneously recognizing that it takes a well-trained workforce to support these initiatives.
As I write, there are many encouraging trends that point to continued growth and opportunity for the solar industry. The extension of the Investment Tax Credit, the historic Paris Agreement and the consistently impressive numbers from The Solar Foundation’s Solar Jobs Census, all indicate that the force is very much with the solar industry. The growing excitement about a solar future is reflected in questions we’ve received from attendees on recent webinars IREC’s hosted about the Solar Career Map.
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) recently released preliminary findings from a peer-reviewed study about the efficacy of DOE’s Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP). This multi-year study has long been in the works, but the initial release is in response to a June 2015 working paper from academics with the E2e Project, which erroneously posited that the federal WAP and other energy efficiency programs are not good investments.
IREC and other leading thinkers in workforce and academic credentialing are re-shaping the U.S. credentialing framework to focus on and more clearly represent student learning. The Credentials Framework positions competency what the learner knows and is able to do – as a tool and ‘common language’ to compare and understand credentials.
In March, over 1,500 workforce professionals from as far away as Guam assembled in an unseasonably chilly Washington, D.C. for the National Association of Workforce Boards Annual Forum. IREC was on hand to meet with workforce professionals and employers, to promote the value of the IREC credential as a tool for WIBs when making decisions about allocation of workforce funding, and, more broadly, quality credentials and the role they play in the skills-based economy.
Energized by the White House’s recent announcement of the America’s College Promise Proposal, over 600 community college presidents, administrators, instructors and partners assembled in Newport Beach, CA for the American Association of Community Colleges Workforce Development Institute at the end of January. IREC’s Credentialing Program was on hand and met over three days with numerous potential applicants for the IREC credential and workforce development partners at the IREC booth.
According to the College Board’s report, Trends in College Pricing, average published tuition and fee prices increased up to 3.7 percent in 2014, depending on sector. This increase is higher than the 2.0 percent increase in the Consumer Price Index during the same time period, and while lower than the average annual increases in the past five years, continues a concerning trend that has been highlighted in the educational and other media for years now.
Thanks to your feedback and numerous candid conversations with you about the value you’ve realized from your credential, we have a number of initiatives underway to improve your experience and position instructor certification with stakeholders as crucial to the success of our industry.
According to market research conducted by the Shelton Group, 80 percent of Americans don’t think they use more energy today than they did five years ago, and about half think their homes are already energy efficient. As misguided as this perception may be, it certainly throws a wrench in the works when trying to sell consumers on energy efficient products or retrofit work.
Across the US, more than 150 training providers and trainers credentialed by IREC are doing their part to grow the clean energy economy. They offer or teach high quality courses that prepare students for real clean energy jobs. They collaborate with industry partners to ensure training reflects current and safe practices. And they focus on learner-centered instruction.