Today marks an important day for America’s clean energy economy with the release of The Solar Foundation’s annual National Solar Jobs Census, which shows the solar industry’s explosive growth is creating thousands of new, highly skilled jobs throughout the country. As of November 2014, the solar industry employs 173,807 workers, representing a growth rate of nearly 22% over the previous year.
And the good news doesn’t stop there. Here are just a few key findings from this year’s census:
- Solar employment has grown by 86% in the past five years alone.
- One out of every 78 new jobs created in the U.S. over the past 12 months was created by the solar industry.
- The solar industry is adding workers at a rate nearly 20 times faster than the overall economy.
Solar workers are increasingly diverse. Minorities, women, and veterans represent a larger portion of the solar workforce than ever before.
The SunShot Initiative supports this growing workforce by providing critical training programs for solar professionals. Our Solar Instructor Training Network supports educational programs at community colleges across the country that will assist 50,000 workers in their efforts to enter the solar industry by 2020. Already, the existing network of nearly 400 community colleges in 49 states has trained more than 30,000 people since 2010.
Most recently, the Solar Instructor Training Network launched a pilot program at select military bases that will provide transitioning service members with the highest quality professional skills to prepare them for potential employment in the solar industry as they enter the civilian workforce. Participants are guaranteed employment interviews with up to five U.S. solar companies during the training period. SunShot is proud to partner with the Department of Defense in this effort to support our nation’s veterans.
SunShot is also working to ready the next generation of power system engineers and utility professionals as they adjust to a rapidly changing electrical grid. The SunShot Grid Engineering for Accelerated Renewable Energy Deployment (GEARED) program was created to build a training and education framework that grows the expertise and preparedness of current and future electric utility-sector professionals – specifically to accommodate higher levels of solar electricity and other distributed energy technologies.
The solar industry’s diverse and vibrant workforce is vital to achieving the Energy Department’s goal of doubling electricity generation from renewable sources yet again by 2020. As the solar energy industry continues its rapid growth, the SunShot Initiative looks forward to new opportunities to support this burgeoning workforce. Learn more about SunShot and map out your own solar energy career.