Strengthening Orange County's Workforce: For the next gifted installer, we go to our veterans

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October 18, 2018

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A GRID Alternatives staff members uses pie chart slides to explain solar
Workforce Development Manager Adewale OgunBadejo explains what we've known since the beginning of the solar hiring boom: this technology has great potential for workers in training.

Supported by organizations and individuals from across the community, we've become a leader in veteran job training. It's one of the many things that sets us apart from other solar installers in Southern California! For many individuals who have served our country with honor, the transition back to civilian life means finding a trade with room to grow. Solar has opportunities aplenty.

In 2017, we began a discussion with staff at American Family Housing around the opportunities that solar job training and hiring could amplify. Founded in 1985 as Shelter for the Homeless, AFH currently serves many of the same communities GRID Alternatives works in to ensure that shelter and food are accessible to those at risk. An area of prominence for AFH: housing our veterans, especially individuals who have experienced chronic homelessness in SoCal communities like Central Orange County.

Last week, we made our first Workforce Development trip out to Potter's Lane, an AFH-run facility in Midway City. Situated between communities where we already have an installation history (like Garden Grove, Santa Ana, and Westminster), Potter's Lane has drawn local attention for its success at sheltering vets in need – several of their structures are converted shipping containers! On the campus, our Workforce Development staff gave vets of all ages a preview of the doors GRID opens.

Faced with the prospect of comprehensive training and the opportunity to get into a training program that would advance their interests, we had individuals express immediate interest in going into solar! Over the next month, we're looking forward to taking several of these men who served out on their own builds in Orange and Los Angeles Counties. On these jobs, they'll gain a sense of where they might fit into a new industry – and prepare for deeper training that will help them get there.

Stay tuned for more updates about Potter's Lane and it's exciting new efforts to bring workforce development to Orange County's underserved. If you have questions about our work with nonprofits, you can direct general questions to Alex.

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