Solar developer launches Los Angeles Cleantech Career Academy

Photo: Miller Brothers.


Avantus, a solar-plus-storage project developer formerly known as 8minute Solar Energy, launched the Avantus Cleantech Career Academy in partnership with UNITE-LA, a Los Angeles business education agency for public education and workforce development. Aligned with the vision set out by California’s climate action plan, the Avantus Academy was set up to train and educate young adults from historically under-resourced communities for potential hiring by the state’s clean energy market.

“For too long, access to programs like this has been mostly limited to those at large, well-funded universities and elite institutions,” said Dr. Tom Buttgenbach, founder and chief executive officer of Avantus. “The academy is taking a different approach by partnering with community colleges, high schools and local non-profits right here in Los Angeles.”

Los Angeles is a driving force in the clean energy transition and will continue to grow with private sector investments as well as from local government. According to the California Air Resources Board, the state’s clean energy market is forecast to create 4 million new jobs, whose pay is 30% above California’s median wage on average.

The Avantus Academy is enrolling young adults aged 16 to 24 years living in Los Angeles County. The program offers:

  • 12 weeks of paid work-based learning opportunities, including guest speakers, field trips and industry-relevant projects
  • 8+ weeks of paid work experience with an employer partner
  • $16 per hour for all learning and work experience time, funded in part thanks to a partnership with the County of Los Angeles
  • Scholarships to support enrollment in certificate or degree programs aligned with the cleantech sector workforce needs, upon completion of the Avantus Academy and internship

To apply or refer someone to the academy’s flagship cohort starting in the Spring of 2023, visit the platform’s website,

In addition to business development, job training skills and peer-mentoring, the academy will provide 96 hours of work-based learning and project development exercises across the solar energy, wind power, water infrastructure and alternative fuels sectors.

“UNITE-LA is excited to partner with Avantus to provide clean technology career awareness, preparation and training to high school and community college students from historically marginalized communities,” said Alysia Bell, president of UNITE-LA. “The cleantech sector is one of the fastest growing industries in the nation, and California alone is set to add millions of jobs over the next two decades.”

Avantus and UNITE-LA are actively seeking partners to jointly design and execute the Avantus Academy. Partnerships will focus on partnership opportunities including:

  • Curriculum Development: Education partners, labor leaders, youth-serving organizations and Los Angeles-area employers to develop the curriculum for students to prepare for a career in clean energy.
  • Student Recruitment: Education and non-profits to support student outreach across the LA region, especially to raise awareness among historically underserved communities.
  • Business and Labor Insights: The business and labor community define what skill sets they require and share the positions that need to be filled by the future workforce.
  • Job Placement: Cleantech employers to commit to hiring students after they complete the training.

To date the academy has received support from local partners the Los Angeles Unified School District, Los Angeles Community College District, California State University, Dominguez Hills and California State University, Los Angeles.

Corporate and community sponsors include Sunrun, Southern California Edison, the Brotherhood Crusade and the Los Angeles Department of Economic Opportunity.

8minute Solar Energy was formed in 2009 and rebranded as Avantus in October. The renewable energy developer has more than 90 projects under development in its pipeline across California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas, with a typical project size of 400 MW.

In January, the company closed a $400 million in financing from EIG, an institutional investor in the global energy and infrastructure sectors, to grow its portfolio of solar and storage assets, and to begin to build projects on its own balance sheet.

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