The solar industry is adding jobs 10 times faster than the rest of the economy, creating a source of good paying American employment, according to the White House. In line with this growth and U.S. targets to achieve net greenhouse gas emissions 26-28% below 2005 levels by 2025, the Obama Administration has announced actions to drive growth in the solar power industry while also supporting U.S. veterans.
From the Hill Air Force Base in northern Utah Friday, President Obama outlined a series of initiatives that will continue to reduce carbon pollution and create good paying clean energy jobs for Americans:
- Training 75,000 Solar Workers: The Department of Energy (DOE) is announcing a goal to train 75,000 people to enter the solar workforce by 2020, some of whom will be veterans. This is an increase from the previous goal of training 50,000 solar workers by 2020 announced in May 2014. The new goal builds on the tremendous progress of DOE’s SunShot Initiative’s Solar Instructor Training Network, which includes 400 partnering community colleges across the country and has trained more than 1,000 certified solar instructors and nearly 30,000 students nationwide in the last five years.
- Launching a Solar Ready Vets Program: DOE, in partnership with the Department of Defense (DOD), is launching a Solar Ready Vets program at 10 military bases across the country, including at Hill Air Force Base in Utah, which has already taken leadership by installing solar panels onsite. The program also includes participation from Camp Pendleton in California, Fort Carson in Colorado, and Naval Station Norfolk in Virginia, all which announced pilot initiatives earlier this year and are serving as a model for the Solar Ready Vets program.
- The Solar Ready Vets program will train transitioning military service personnel to enter the solar workforce by joining with SunShot’s Solar Instructor Training Network and leveraging the DOD’s Skillbridge transition authority authorized by Congress in 2012. Consistent with the Vice-President’s job-driven training agenda, the program is based on the specific needs of high-growth solar employers, is tailored to build on the technician skills that veterans have acquired through their service, and incorporates work-based learning strategies. Service members will learn how to size and install solar panels, connect electricity to the grid, and interpret and comply with local building codes. This accelerated training will prepare them for careers in the solar industry as installers, sales representatives, system inspectors, and other solar-related occupations.
- Utilizing the GI Bill for Solar Workforce Training: The Department of Veterans Affairs is committing to working with DOE and State Approving Agencies to achieve approval for GI Bill funding for DOE’s Solar Ready Vets initiative. Over time, this approval will enable more veterans across the country to use their GI Bill benefits to participate in this job-driven training program through local community colleges, where they will quickly learn the skills needed for good-paying jobs in the solar industry. Adding Solar Ready Vets will expand the existing network of programs providing service members and veterans opportunities to gain skills to enter the solar workforce through their GI Bill.
- Educating Veterans and Service Members about Opportunities to Gain Solar Workforce Training: The Department of Labor (DOL), will work with DOD to ensure that transitioning service members are made aware of solar workforce training programs available to them in their last months of military service. In addition, to better serve unemployed veterans, DOL will partner with state workforce agencies and American Job Centers to better inform unemployed veterans about the opportunity to participate in available solar trainings. The Department of Labor in partnership with the Departments of Energy, Defense, and Veterans Affairs, is committed to facilitating a range of job and career opportunities for our transitioning service members and veterans.