On a Friday morning in mid May, 16 students, dressed in button up shirts and shined shoes, began filing into GRID Alternatives’ Bay Area training space. The students had just finished a month of intensive hands-on solar training - the longest solar cohort training to date in the Bay Area - with GRID Alternatives and Rising Sun Energy Center, a Berkeley-based job training nonprofit and longtime partner of GRID’s. Each student walked with a little extra pep in their step knowing that they were prepared for the the private job fair with local hiring employers that took place on their last day of the month-long training.
This cohort of students attended 30 hours of training weekly over the month, engaging in solar PV installation, mock installations at GRID’s practice roofs, soft skills training at Rising Sun and even a full day of training on energy storage systems lead by the Pacific Energy Center in San Francisco. One ambitious student, Charles, already had 3 interviews lined up before the training was complete. He had just moved to California a week before the training and knew he needed a career as soon as possible in the Bay Area, but lacked the experience. When he walked by a Rising Sun poster advertising the solar training he thought it was “too good to be true.”
The month of experience integrated GRID’s Installation Basics Training (IBT) Program, a competency-based certificate program designed to develop the skills that are most relevant to entry-level solar installation jobs and related construction employment fields. IBT focuses on ten total individual certificates which are only earned after demonstrating competence in industry-recognized skills, providing trainees with invaluable hands-on training and access to potential employment opportunities.
By the end of the month long course, students had collectively completed an impressive 108 skill certificates, earning high praise and notice from the employers at the job fair. As JC Castillo, a recruiter from Tesla who has been attending GRID Bay Area’s private job fairs for 3 years, remarked, “the competency of this group, including the IBT certificates, is very impressive.” We think so too, JC!
The program and job fair ended with a graduation ceremony for the students, by which time several in-person interviews had been scheduled and countless connections had been made. In the weeks since, 3 participants - including Charles - have already received employment with local solar companies, and more placements are in the works.
To see photos from the training and graduation, check out GRID’s Flickr page here. A huge thanks to all the hard-working students, to Rising Sun for your great partnership, and to the Violet World Foundation for your support of GRID’s programs and mission!