This July, GRID Bay Area’s Troops to Solar training partnership with local veterans services organization, Swords to Plowshares, completed a second successful training after wrapping up its pilot cohort earlier this year in the spring. The partnership aims to reduce the barriers to employment for local veterans interested in the rapidly growing solar industry through pre-employment job readiness training, hands-on training, and employment opportunities.
“To reach our goal, we decided to increase the amount of real-world solar installation training hours,” said GRID Bay Area’s Workforce Development Manager, Daisy Meyer. When the partnership started, the Solar Jobs Census reported that 25% of solar employers find it “very hard” to find qualified employees. Additionally, California and the San Francisco Bay Area are ranked number one for solar jobs in the country. “At GRID Bay Area, we know that veterans of the armed services have extremely transferable skills for solar. Often, they pick up the solar installation and electrical skills quite quickly once they have the opportunity to get out on a roof,” Meyer added.
In addition to solar PV installations, the participants also spent time at GRID Bay Area’s mock roofs, in classrooms with Swords to Plowshares Job Developer learning resume writing and interview skills, and had the opportunity to learn about commercial scale solar PV design using Helioscope design software. The training finished off with a GRID Bay Area Private Job Fair where local employers got to meet face to face with the cohort of veterans.
Did the training meet expectations set by GRID Bay Area and Swords to Plowshares? In short—yes. The cohort installed over 7kW DC of solar PV systems in their community, preventing 58 tons of greenhouse gases from entering the atmosphere and by the last day of the training, more than half of the participants had interviews lined up and job offers by the next week.