As our renewable industry booms and profits provide the opportunity to hire new candidates, employers are positioned to make important choices about the solar labor pool. GRID Alternatives has been involved in a hands-on way for more than half a decade, both encouraging populations from across the Greater Los Angeles region to participate in solar trades and careers and leading employers to hire the best talent. We believe that the promise of clean power should be fully fulfilled with the premise that the workers that design, install, maintain, and have leading business roles in solar companies reflect commitments to diversity.
Our Job Fair on October 26 was made possible with the support of the collaborators at the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), Smart Electric Power Alliance (SEPA), and sponsor Solar Training Network. It showcased the best of today's solar hiring practices, bringing more than two dozen employers and many more solar professionals (or future solar professionals) to the ballroom of the Hilton for networking and much, more more. Attended by GRID staff from all over California, particularly training and workforce specialists in our Southern Cal offices, the Job Fair reflected our local solar industry's commitment to smart hiring practices that open doors of opportunity to even overlooked candidates. Companies like Altair (of Irvine), Baker Electric (of Escondido), and Tesla (of Hawthorne) were proof that solar career opportunities exist in every one of our California communities, including areas where economic opportunities seem far between. Groups and individuals who have trained with us in Los Angeles, such as East Los Angeles Skills Center students looking to break into solar, saw the opportunity firsthand when they handed out résumés, met recruiters, and familiarized themselves with job pathways.
GLA's longest-serving staff member and head of training and job placement efforts, Adewale OgunBadejo, moderated a brief and informative panel about getting companies the talent they need – and thinking about under-represented groups like women, minorities, opportunity youth, veterans, and those who have histories in the criminal justice system front and center in the candidate selection process. Building on some important themes of our last Los Angeles Energy & Equity Policy Series event (Breaking Barriers to Employment for the Formerly Incarcerated) and the overall training mission of GLA, the question-and-answer session provided food for thought for hiring managers. What Adewale and other Workforce Development Managers at GRID are working towards is a collaborative process across industry and government landscapes to hire the best, diverse people – and guarantee that a pipeline to these jobs exists tomorrow.
"Though short and concise," Adewale writes, "I think the panel set the tone for the day while helping employers to process the work that GRID does and the importance of casting larger nets when looking for talent. This was by definition a great all around team effort." LEEPS and the related fair took place in tandem with Solar Power International, the largest solar and storage event in North America. A successful conference like this one gave energy and inspiration to everyone who attended, no matter their role! If you had the opportunity to attend SPI and checked out this and/or other GRID showcases during your week, thank you for support of solar.