Chicago solar workforce training program honors graduates


Reactivate, a nationwide solar training program that uses the Building Equity in Solar Training (BEST) protocol, this week honored the graduation of its first 12 program trainees in Chicago.

The milestone signifies the completion of a sixteen-week solar training program for 12 individuals from the Chicago area. The program has equipped graduates with the necessary skills and certifications for a career in solar energy and general building trades.

Reactivate’s inaugural cohort was trained in solar installation and design based on the criteria of the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) PV Associate certification. In addition the students were trained in solar technical, electrical applications, and industrial vehicle training, such as skid steer, scissor lift and forklift operations, to ensure they had transferable skills within and beyond the solar industry, Reactive spokeswoman Jeannette Torres told pv magazine USA.

Reactivate launched the Chicago program in February 2023 in partnership with GRID Alternatives, Solar Energy International, Jobs for the Future, and local workforce partners Elevate and Community and Economic Development Association of Cook County (CEDA).

The BEST program offers comprehensive training in solar energy installation and the building trades, encompassing various skills such as solar photovoltaic system installation, OSHA 30 certification, NABCEP preparation and exam, as well as essential skills development in leadership, teamwork, financial literacy, and workplace etiquette.

Reactivate graduate Shuron W. said:

You have given us an incredible opportunity that we did not take lightly. Your passion for solar has given us a whole new perspective, and we now understand that solar is the future. Regardless of the path each of us chooses in the solar industry – whether it’s becoming pro-installers, researchers, electricians, instructors, inspectors, or sales consultants – we are now equipped and prepared for the present and future that revolves around solar.

The BEST program offers paid training with materials provided, assistance with transportation and childcare, tutoring and counseling, bilingual support (English/Spanish), and guidance with job placement and apprenticeship transitioning.

The graduation keynote was delivered by Utopia Hill, chief executive officer of Reactivate, emphasizing environmental justice, inclusivity, and the future of renewable energy careers. Hill highlighted the ecological crisis and the opportunity it presents to create a more equitable and sustainable world by empowering marginalized communities.

Reactivate’s Utopia Hill said:

Graduates, this is your call to action. It’s about recognizing the impacts of pollution, climate change and environmental degradation disproportionately affecting marginalized communities. Let us be the driver of change and let your actions be the embodiment of hope. Inclusive environmentalism recognizes the interconnectedness of social justice and environmental issues and acknowledges that a just transition to a sustainable future must also be must also be a just transition for all.”

Reactivate is actively collaborating with partners to secure additional funding sources and aims to scale the BEST program nationwide. The program is calling for year-round cohorts that will empower thousands of individuals across the U.S. with the skills and opportunities for careers in the renewable energy industry.

For more information or to apply for the Reactive workforce program, click here.

Lafayette Square and Invenergy formed Reactivate in January 2022 as a community solar energy platform supporting development in underserved communities. The platform will finance, acquire, develop, and operate solar energy projects primarily serving LMI communities and areas disproportionately affected by the clean energy transition.

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