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“It’s a wild, wild west out there in terms of training and credentialing,” says Dr. Sarah White, Senior Associate at the Center on Wisconsin Strategy (COWS), and IREC’s lead for this project. “There is no broadly held understanding of the wide variety of occupations across many segments of solar industry, and the various education and training pathways into them. This mapping tool is part of the answer.”
The Solar Career Lattice is the product of a national working group and affiliated experts, including representatives from industry, education, government, labor, and the NGO community. The Working Group was convened by The Interstate Renewable Energy Council in its capacity as the National Administrator of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Instructor Training Network. Dr. White is Chair of the Working Group.
The Solar Career Map website explores the many job opportunities available in the solar industry. Developed by the Interstate Renewable Energy Council in its capacity as the National Administrator of DOE’s Solar Instructor Training Network (SITN), the tool is intended for use by instructors, policy-makers, and job-seekers. Watch the webinar.
“This tool explores an expanding universe of solar-energy occupations, describing diverse jobs across the industry, charting possible progression between them, and identifying the high-quality training necessary to do them well,” said White.
The interactive online career lattice maps three dozen solar occupations in four sectors: component production, system design, sales & marketing, and installation/operations. This visual roadmap includes occupational information, skills and competencies, education and training pathways. A team of national experts selected the 36 illustrative occupations to map. Not every job on the lattice is exclusively or even primarily a solar job. But each one requires some training in solar-specific skills. And each one is in some way essential to building a robust, high-quality, solar industry.
“Labor markets are organized as lattices, not ladders. There are many possible career routes within and across solar sectors for workers seeking advancement or new opportunities. This tool maps some of them,” said White.
According to White, many people still think of solar energy jobs in terms of roof-top installation, and of the solar industry in terms of bottom-line costs. This tool offers a more nuanced vision. By mapping a broad spectrum of careers across the solar industry, the lattice prompts instructors, policy-makers, and job-seekers to consider a wide variety of occupations accessible to workers with a wide variety of skill and experience.
White believes high-quality work and high-quality jobs are critical to building a robust, high-quality solar industry.
“A poorly trained workforce costs more in the long run,” said White. “Safety, efficiency, and quality aren’t just values; in the solar industry, they create value.”
Dr. White discussed and demonstrated the Solar Career Mapping Tool in webinar. Watch the webinar.