The Solar Foundation is a federally-funded program created to bridge the gap between supply and demand in the solar workforce. They’ve released a tool kit that details step-by-step of how to fulfill the demand for qualified employees and build a skilled and diverse solar workforce. There are several methods for the solar industry to hire and train skilled workers.Solar companies have access to complete their employment goals by open positions on job boards, engage with the community, strengthen training and hiring practices, and raise public awareness of the solar industry. Embracing these time-tested best practices can improve employee hiring and retention, boost employee qualifications, and allow solar businesses to grow and succeed.
One of the more important ways to achieve these goals is by partnering with local workforce development system. Workforce development boards and American Job Centers are public resources available in virtually all communities to help with the hiring and recruitment process. It serves as a supplement of a solar company’s human resources staff. It assists with writing and posting job descriptions, and reaching out to local job seekers. Workforce boards have funding bridge job seekers to training opportunities and solar companies with schools and community colleges. Engagement with the workforce development system can also improve employee diversity, a stated priority for the solar industry today, though relatively few companies have a strategy for meeting diversity goals. The public workforce system has the resources to connect companies with a wider range of talent pools, increasing the hiring of women, people of color, low-income communities, and veterans. As we detailed in our recent Solar Industry Diversity Study, a more diverse and inclusive industry brings a host of benefits. Not only is it the right thing to do, but it helps expand the size of the applicant pool, improve employee well-being, and increase a company’s profitability.
One of the most effective ways to attract qualified employees is to develop work-based learning programs, which allow a business to invest in the skills of current and future workers. Our recent Solar Training Hiring and Insights report has shown that solar companies greatly value on-the-job training, but it is not widely available; only 34 percent of the solar companies we surveyed provided a formal on-the-job training program. In developing this toolkit, we worked with partner organizations and a wide range of employers and trainers through interviews, conversations, summits, and research to develop best practices for workforce development. We hope this toolkit can be the start of a conversation on improved strategies to build an even stronger solar workforce that continues to create high-quality jobs for all backgrounds, interests, and education levels throughout America.
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