As we enter the “Solar+ Decade,” the industry is already tracking record job growth, adding thousands of new living-wage jobs at a rate five times faster than the overall economy. Over 5,600 new positions were created last year, some of which are now held by graduates of GRID’s solar installation training programs. We caught up with a few of them to hear how their training got them to where they are today.
Omar Alhalak is a recent graduate of GRID San Diego’s Installation Basics Training Program, where he grew his leadership skills in addition to his technical solar knowledge. Today he’s a foreman at Sunrun managing a crew of his own. “[GRID’s] training helped me grow from zero to a professional foreman with very strong electrical skills.” His next goal? Getting his C10 Electrician’s knowledge and becoming a construction supervisor.
Kenny Wells found GRID by way of longtime partner Homeboy Industries, an organization that helps formerly incarcerated individuals gain skills necessary to re-enter the labor force. “My favorite part of the training was the the humanity that is placed at the center of all [GRID’s] efforts. It influenced me to take pride in what I was doing and that I belonged in this industry.” Kenny went on to found his very own renewable energy company in 2018, O&M Solar Services. “I felt it was necessary to start a minority-owned business with the hope that its success would bring more representation, and that those who are thinking about entering this industry would see themselves in stakeholder positions.” Kenny credits GRID for instilling in him a sense of social responsibility that now guides his own company, “GRID influenced me to go beyond the numbers and become a social enterprise that uses its success to influence others to embrace renewable energy."
Felix Amezugbe found GRID through partner organization Reading and Beyond, and was referred to our Installation Basics Training Program by one of GRID Central Valley’s Workforce and Training Program Managers. His prior experience working as an electrician and technician for a security company in Ghana helped him quickly get up to speed, and soon he found himself on a roof chalking array layouts, drilling rafters, installing rails, and mounting conduit. As a GRID training graduate, he’s now searching for a solar job. His advice for fellow solar job seekers? “Do your research to see where you’ll fit best. If you don't get a job offer [initially], do not get disappointed. Believe in yourself that you can do it and your time will come.”