In 2015, the Energy Department’s Solar Ready Vets program trained more than 150 American armed forces veterans to enter the solar workforce. I’m pleased to report that every single one received a job offer upon graduating.
This is just the start.
President Obama formally launched Solar Ready Vets in April. Since then, transitioning service members have trained at Camp Pendleton in California, Fort Carson in Colorado, and Naval Station Norfolk in Virginia. The men and women in the program include service members from every branch of the military and multiple occupational specialties.
This was also a banner year for the solar industry -- and as it grows, the demand for highly trained technical workers grows, too. We know that the veterans we train through Solar Ready Vets have a tremendous impact on the industry because they have the diverse technical, leadership, and problem-solving skills needed to thrive.
2016 is going to be a big year.
In 2016, we are expanding the program to make it faster and easier for more bases to join. Hill Air Force Base in Utah will launch the Air Force’s first cohort in February, and Fort Drum in New York will launch its first class this month. Governor Cuomo announced the new program on January 6, which will train five cohorts in the next year.
With more than 500 megawatts of solar installed and $451 million invested in solar installations in 2014 alone, New York is one of the nation’s top solar states. A Solar Ready Vets training location at the heart of this thriving industry will give our veterans access to great jobs with huge growth potential right in the Fort’s backyard.
We are working to make Solar Ready Vets better than ever.
The Solar Ready Vets team has developed strong relationships with the solar industry over the course of this year, ensuring that students are given priority for high-quality jobs. Experts make sure that the training is regularly updated to meet the constantly changing needs of the industry.
In addition to our new locations, we are releasing a new logo to better represent the veterans who go through our program. At the end of January, we will also announce a new administrator for the program, who will help the Solar Ready Vets team develop additional opportunities to expand the program in 2016 and beyond.