With the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act one year ago, the U.S. solar industry is already booming with a much greater buildout left to come. With all the advantages of a burgeoning solar industry come challenges, and finding workers is one of them.
Respondents to the Solar Jobs Census survey conducted by the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) indicated that they expect a 9% growth in employees, which would bring the total to 287,632 solar workers. The report notes that in 2022, 44% of solar industry employers said it was “very difficult” to find qualified applicants—the highest such percentage ever recorded in the Solar Jobs Census.
To try to attract new workers, Solar Landscape, Edison Job Corps and Lyft are removing barriers by offering transportation. The partners are hoping that the offer of flexible transportation will help attract qualified candidates in under-represented communities and help to fill the growing number of clean energy jobs.
The project came to fruition as a result of a job training program identifying the need for reliable and flexible transportation for new workers. Called the STEP-UP program (for Solar Training and Education Partnerships for Underserved Populations), the national program partners with organizations to bring solar installer training to low-to moderate income communities as part of community solar projects. The STEP-UP program is run by career development firm Edison Job Corps, and has trained nearly 2,500 residents in Illinois, Maryland, New Jersey, and New Mexico.
Edison Job Corps is a nationwide training program for students ages 16 to 24 with 120 campuses across the U.S. and Puerto Rico. Since 1964, the program has offered hands-on training to more than 3 million individuals.for careers ranging from healthcare to IT to construction to solar installations. A great benefit to low-income students is that it is fully funded by the Federal government and free to students. Edison Job Corps will administer the workforce partnership program by providing the Lyft credits to its trainees and graduates.
Solar Landscape is developer, designer, installer, owner, and operator of community solar and solar energy solutions for the commercial/industrial, municipal, public school and non-profit marketplaces. The company currently employs more than 150 people and has more than 200 MW of solar energy projects completed or under construction.
The partnership between the three organizations is expected to provide hundreds of Lyft rides to Edison Job Corps students who need reliable transportation to job interviews or the first few weeks of a new job.
“This partnership is truly a bridge to brighter futures,” said Kate Gold, director of workforce at Solar Landscape. “As the demand for commercial rooftop solar continues to surge, so does the need for jobs in the sector. We’re grateful to Lyft and Edison Job Corps for innovating with us to creatively connect community members to jobs in clean energy and help kickstart new careers.”
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