The first class of Marine trainees at Camp Pendleton have graduated from the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) solar job training pilot program, which is aimed at preparing service members for careers in the solar industry as solar photovoltaic (PV) system installers, sales representatives, system inspectors, and other solar-related jobs. Camp Pendleton is one of three military bases partnering with DOE’s SunShot Initiative to train 200 transitioning military service members during the pilot period for employment in the U.S. solar industry. Training courses will also begin at Fort Carson and Naval Station Norfolk this spring.
“As more homes and businesses across America choose solar power for their electricity needs, the solar industry is growing rapidly, and demand for highly skilled solar workers is on the rise,” said Minh Le, director, SunShot Initiative. “This new solar energy job training program will help our motivated, highly skilled service men and women gain the training they need to transition into leaders of our nation’s growing clean energy economy.”
This pilot program is enabled by the U.S. Department of Defense’s (DOD’s) SkillBridge initiative, which allows exiting military personnel to pursue civilian job training, employment skills training, apprenticeships, and internships up to six months prior to their separation date. Service members who graduate from DOE’s solar training program will gain skills to size and install solar panels, safely connect electricity to the grid, and interpret and comply with local building codes.
The solar industry has been a leader in hiring military veterans, and the industry currently employs nearly 17,000 veterans, approximately 10 percent of nearly 174,000 solar jobs nationwide, said DOE. Five of the largest U.S. solar companies by number of employees — SolarCity, Vivint Solar, Sunrun, SunEdison, and SunPower — have committed to interview military trainees graduating from the solar job training pilot program, a step that will help place qualified trainees in jobs.
DOE said this solar energy training pilot program builds on its SunShot Solar Instructor Training Network — a national network of nine regional centers supporting credentialed solar training at more than 400 community colleges in 49 states — which has trained nearly 1,100 certified solar instructors to date and provided hands-on training to more than 30,000 students nationwide.