What is Solar Design and Installation Training?
Solar technologies and the codes and standards that govern them continue to rapidly evolve as we move toward a clean energy future. Solar design and installation training prepares workers to properly design, install, and maintain these solar energy assets. Training can take many forms based on the target audience and topic area, such as a high school career technical education (CTE) program, an undergraduate or graduate degree program at a community college or university, a work-based learning program such an internship or apprenticeship, or a continuing education course for working professionals.
Solar design and installation training programs that are aligned with regional employer needs and available job opportunities ensure effective training-to-career pipelines. Curriculum should be based on employer-identified skills requirements and delivered in a way that meets the needs of learners. Training programs may target specific populations of workers sharing similar educational backgrounds and/or life experiences in order to meet learners where they are at and provide support services based on individual needs. If properly designed and implemented, these programs can provide positive short and long-term impacts.
Why is Solar Design and Installation Training important?
Deploying safe, reliable solar energy systems requires a skilled workforce that is properly trained to design and install these technologies. Additionally, maintaining these systems across decades of expected operation requires experienced technicians who can identify and address any safety or performance issues. According to the 2020 Solar Jobs Census, 67% of solar industry jobs are in installation and project development, and an additional 7% of jobs are in system operations and maintenance. Effective and accessible training opportunities ensure that these workers meet and exceed safety and operational requirements through code compliance and best practices.
SETO Research in Solar Design and Installation Training
SETO has supported a variety of successful programs that have improved access to technical careers in solar design and installation. Recent training and support programs include:
- Advancing Equity Through Workforce Partnerships funding program – facilitates the rapid deployment of solar energy technologies while supporting an inclusive workforce with opportunities for union membership.
- Blue Lake Rancheria Multi-Sector Solar Career Training Initiative for Native Americans Project – provides integrated training, support, and outreach efforts to Native Americans interested in solar careers.
- MREA Solar Ready Wisconsin Project – aligns technical college curriculum and programs of study with regional solar employer needs and provides work-based learning and solar employment opportunities in Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Minnesota.
- PEA Bright Solar Futures Project – expands efforts in Philadelphia to develop a new, replicable workforce training program for high school and underemployed youth to enter the region’s solar industry.
- IGEN Expanding the Solar Workforce through the Illinois Community College System Project – aligns and improves solar curriculum across Illinois community colleges through credentialing, curriculum and instructional design, and industry partnerships.
- Safer Foundation Solar Energy Demand Skills Training Project – provides skills training and support for people in the criminal justice system to fill the growing workforce needs of the solar industry.
- Solar Career Map – developed by the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC), this interactive tool explores 40 jobs across 4 solar industry sectors and identifies more than 60 routes to advancement between them.
- Solar Training Provider Directory – this interactive map shows the locations of solar training providers across the country, including GI Bill eligible and NABCEP registered programs.
- NABCEP Certification – The North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) is the most respected, well-established, and widely recognized certification organization for solar professionals, offering entry level knowledge assessment, professional certification, and company accreditation programs to renewable energy professionals.
- Solar Education and Training Best Practice Series – developed by IREC, this resource enables instructors to easily enhance current solar curriculum while providing a detailed roadmap for those who are considering adding solar to related trades curriculum.
- REA Solar Job Resource Center – an online marketplace for job seekers pursuing a solar career and training in the Midwest.