The Solar Ready Vets Network, funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, is a program that provides training to veterans for careers in the rapidly growing solar and energy storage industries.
Led by the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC), the program supports the industry’s need for a trained workforce as well as providing pathways to careers for veterans.
IREC has recently secured additional funding to build on the work that has been ongoing since 2014. New initiatives help with registered apprenticeship programs, pair workers with employers and more.
Each year, about 200,000 men and women leave military service in the United States and the Department of Defense has set up the SkillBridge program to help them transition to careers in civilian life. The Solar Ready Vets program works with the SkillBridge program to offer opportunities aligned with workforce needs in the solar industry.
The Department of Defense SkillBridge program allows service members to pursue career training before transition, setting them up for success to bring their diverse skills to a wide range of industries. The Solar Ready Vets Fellowship, implemented through the Hiring Our Heroes Corporate Fellowship Program, is a SkillBridge program. Through this program, close to 100 service members have started careers with solar employers in roles such as project management, operations and logistics, communications, policy, and more.
The Hiring Our Heroes program is launching a new Skills-Based Fellowship model, which IREC says will connect a much wider pool of military talent with solar fellowships opportunities in 2024 and beyond.
With new training partners such as Solar Energy International (SEI), IREC is developing a standardized, solar industry specific SkillBridge training model to equip veterans for demanding entry-level roles. IREC reports that, along with SEI, it is launching a consensus-based process with industry and training stakeholders to define learning outcomes and program structures. The program will be piloted in 2024, and IREC is seeking employers from within the solar industry that are interested in contributing to the SkillBridge group.
Apprenticeship programs are a great way for workers to get on-the-job training, but solar developers now also have tax incentives from the Inflation Reduction Act if they employ apprentices and have a certain ratio from registered apprenticeship programs. The Solar Ready Vets program is partnering with Midwest Renewable Energy Association to establish and register National Guidelines for Apprenticeship Standards that will align Department of Labor-approved occupations with the needs of solar employers.
Once developed, the guidelines will be available for use by any employer to design an apprenticeship program for those occupations. IREC is convening a working group to help inform the development of these standards and employers can reach out to IREC to learn more about participating.
Solar career course
IREC plans to offer solar mentorship opportunities and hiring events for military-connected individuals, and will be conducting a new, self-paced solar career navigation course. The course is planned for early next year and will showcase the opportunities available. IREC is also establishing a direct referral process to connect qualified veteran candidates to job openings with select solar employers. Click here for more information.
This nationwide work is carried out in partnership with leading industry, training and veterans’ services organizations including the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), Hiring our Heroes (HOH), Solar Energy International (SEI), and the Midwest Renewable Energy Association (MREA).
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