The Inflation Reduction Act, signed into law last August, intends to not only create the jobs needed to increase use of clean energy, but the law includes labor protections and incentives for paying prevailing wages and hiring registered apprentices. Now the race is on to train apprentices, and workforce training initiatives are springing up in places like San Antonio, Texas.
OCI Solar Power, St. Philip’s College, Project Quest, and the San Antonio Area Foundation have established SolarJobs SA, an education and workforce initiative designed to help prepare students for careers in the renewable energy industry.
“We want to help more San Antonians benefit from the booming solar energy industry, ” said Charles Kim, president and CEO, OCI Solar Power.
OCI Solar Power, headquartered in San Antonio, Texas, develops, constructs, finances, owns, and operates solar facilities specializing in utility-scale solar and energy storage projects across the U.S. SolarJobs SA strengthens the relationship the company had already established with St. Philip’s College, a public community college with a goal of preparing its diverse population for clean energy careers.
“Our Power Generation and Alternative Energy program uses leading-edge technology in labs and coursework with an emphasis on hands-on experiences to prepare a new generation for the workforce,” said Dr. Adena Williams Loston, President of St. Philip’s College.
OCI Solar contributed $500,000 to launch the three-year initiative intended to bolster the Power Generation and Alternative Energy program. Right now the program, which is a NABCEP training center, prepares students to work in the electrical power generation industry and they’re introduced to renewable technologies including wind, solar, hydrogen, landfill gas, and energy storage. The program offers an occupational skills award, two certificates and an associates degree. Also offered is an internship with local industry partners.
The financial support from OCI Solar is intended to help the school increase its offerings from one to two solar-specific associates degrees and from two to six solar certifications. The students no longer have to travel to Austin or El Paso to test for certifications, but can test right in San Antonio. The funding for SolarJobs SA provides scholarships, stipends for instructors, classroom supplies and equipment, textbooks, tools, testing fees and more. Eight students are currently enrolled in the program.
As part of the SolarJobs SA collaboration, Project Quest, a nationally recognized non-profit, helps students with support services like housing and utility assistance, online connectivity and childcare. It will also develop a job bank with solar-related opportunities and will assist students with resumes and interviewing skills in order for them to secure a career in the solar industry.
“Project Quest is honored to be a part of the SolarJobs SA initiative and bring our 30 years of experience to help ensure the success of the students, ” said Molly Biglari, president and CEO of Project Quest.
The new solar training programs come at a time when Texas is seeing unprecedented growth in renewable energy and is expected to soon lead the nation in installed solar capacity. The Energy Information Administration (EIA) projects as much as 36 GW of solar capacity will be installed in the next five years, adding on to the 16 GW installed thus far.
OCI Solar Power is a subsidiary of OCI Company Ltd., a South Korean firm that has a portfolio of products and solutions for a broad spectrum of industries in the renewable energy sector, including making polysilicon. OCI Company established OCI Enterprises Inc. in 1990, which is its U.S. holding company that is the parent of OCI Solar Power, established in 2012, and Mission Solar Energy, established in 2014.
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