PRESS RELEASE: White House Announces New Solar Workforce Development Program, Led by The Solar Foundation

The Solar Training Network will build a diverse and qualified solar workforce to meet soaring labor demand over the coming decade

WASHINGTON, DC — July 19, 2016 — The White House today announced a new program, led by The Solar Foundation, to help train more Americans for careers in the rapidly expanding solar workforce. The $2.1 million program, known as the Solar Training Network, is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy SunShot Initiative under the Solar Training and Education for Professionals (STEP) funding program.

The Solar Training Network will help build the infrastructure to meet President Obama’s 2015 commitment to train 75,000 people for careers in solar by 2020. The program will enhance and expand solar training resources and connect employers to qualified applicants.

For solar job seekers, the Solar Training Network will improve access to solar training, resources, and careers. For employers, it will increase the quality and diversity of the solar workforce and establish nationally consistent training standards.

“As the number of solar jobs increases dramatically each year, the Solar Training Network will help give job seekers the training opportunities they need, while helping employers gain access to qualified candidates,” said Andrea Luecke, President and Executive Director of The Solar Foundation. “A lot of great work has already been conducted by the Interstate Renewable Energy Council and the Department of Energy, and we look forward to building a sustainable program that will meet the workforce needs of the solar industry for years to come.”

Through the Solar Training Network, The Solar Foundation will build upon the successes of the Department of Energy’s Solar Instructor Training Network (SITN) program and prepare even more Americans for careers in solar. A strategically selected team of national experts in solar energy training, workforce development, and industry will collaborate with The Solar Foundation on this program.

The Solar Training Network will also facilitate new research to increase understanding of the solar labor market, industry needs, costs, and potential savings associated with training the installation workforce.

The Solar Training Network is led by The Solar Foundation. The team also includes:

  • American Association of Community Colleges
  • National Association of Workforce Boards
  • GRID Alternatives
  • Florida Solar Energy Center
  • Solar Energy International
  • Solar Energy Industries Association

“As the U.S. continues its push for greater energy production domestically, solar will play an important role,” said Ron Painter, president and CEO of the National Association of Workforce Boards. “NAWB is pleased that local workforce boards across the U.S. are working with employers to skill their workforce in solar technologies. We look forward to working with The Solar Foundation to expand our knowledge of the field and increase the number of qualified workers available in the industry.”

“As a growing number of students seek careers in the solar industry, AACC is pleased to be a partner in the Solar Training Network, which will support community colleges as they meet workforce demands through high quality training and employer connections,” said Jen Worth, Senior Vice President, Workforce and Economic Development at the American Association of Community Colleges.

The Solar Foundation’s sixth National Solar Jobs Census report, released in January, indicated the U.S. solar workforce currently has nearly 209,000 workers, up 20.2 percent since 2014 and up 123 percent since 2010. The Solar Foundation also recently launched the highly interactive website SolarStates.org, which features solar jobs data broken out by state, county, and legislative districts.

About the SunShot Initiative

The U.S. Department of Energy SunShot Initiative is a collaborative national effort that aggressively drives innovation to make solar energy fully cost-competitive with traditional energy sources before the end of the decade. Through SunShot, the Energy Department supports efforts by private companies, universities, and national laboratories to drive down the cost of solar electricity to $0.06 per kilowatt-hour. Learn more at energy.gov/sunshot.

About The Solar Foundation

An independent nonprofit founded in 1977, the purpose of The Solar Foundation (TSF) is to increase understanding of solar energy through strategic research and education that transforms markets. While solar energy is a key part of our energy future, TSF is committed to excellence in its aim to help people fairly and objectively gauge the value of the technology worldwide.

MEDIA CONTACT:

Avery Palmer, The Solar Foundation, 202-846-7509, apalmer@solarfound.org