Meet Dominic and Keon, new GRID Alternatives Mid-Atlantic construction employees. Their very first introduction to solar was this summer, through a job training program. “If you asked me and Dom the first day, ‘give me the bandsaw,’ I’d be like ‘what? Is that an instrument or something?’” said Keon.
Keon and Dom were two of the Department of Energy and the Environment’s (DOEE)’s Green Zone Environmental Program (GZEP) where 15 local youth joined GRID for six weeks to gain solar industry skills. Through participating in a variety of workshops and completing solar installations under supervision of GRID staff, the trainees gained valuable skills to prepare them for entering the workforce. After the summer, Dominic and Keon were both offered SolarCorps Construction jobs with GRID to continue their training. Partially funded by an AmeriCorps National Grant, they have committed to completing at least 1,700 hours of direct service for the communities GRID serves. Over the next year, Dom and Keon will continue to gain solar industry skills through the AmeriCorps program.
And it all started with their initial training. “My first time being on an install was pretty scary, being on a roof for the first time. It took me twenty minutes to actually stand up on a pitched roof,” explained Keon, “Then that day I was like, ‘Ok, this is something I can grow into liking.’ And then the next install came and I was like, ‘Ok, I can do something with this.’ Then the third install came and I was like, ‘I love this.’”
“It was a really good program,” said Dominic, “Now we are employees and we get to do what we like every single day.” And they aren’t just learning solar installation skills through the year-long AmeriCorps program. “We are still learning every single day. There are so many learning opportunities. I’m getting better at public speaking myself – we had to do a public speaking exercise at staff retreat,” said Dominic.
This experience is life-changing. New trainees discover a passion for solar and a new career path that they had never considered before. Now, Dominic aspires to be a Solar Installation Supervisor, so he will have a steady workflow and can teach other people about solar. Keon can see himself also advancing within the solar field, and eventually becoming a warehouse manager.
Now, Dominic and Keon not only know what a bandsaw is, but have also gained many skills and are prepared to continue their career in the solar industry “This is my first actual job,” said Keon, “I love everything that GRID has to offer – and I don’t take anything for granted.”
Be a part of GRID’s mission to make solar job training accessible for everyone. Donate today to help GRID train more individuals like Dominic and Keon and prepare them to enter the growing solar industry.