WASHINGTON, April 7, 2016 - The Energy Department’s SunShot Initiative has a Solar Ready Vets program that prepares veterans to enter the solar energy industry, training them for careers as solar photovoltaic (PV) system installers, sales representatives, system inspectors and other solar-related occupations. Employment in the U.S. solar industry increased 123 percent over the past five years, and veterans are strong candidates to fill these positions because they are disciplined, motivated and technically savvy, says the Department of Energy (DOE).
The Solar Ready Vets program trains active military personnel who are in “transitioning military” status, within a few months of leaving military service and becoming a veteran.
Recently, Deputy Secretary of Energy Liz Sherwood-Randall and Special Assistant to the Deputy Secretary of Energy Katie Clarkin traveled to Hill Air Force Base in Utah to attend a graduation ceremony for a class of 18 participants in the program.
When President Barack Obama visited Hill, he challenged DOE to expand the Solar Ready Vets program to 10 military installations across the nation, says Clarkin. The DOE is on track to meet that goal next month and all four armed service branches will be represented. To date, approximately 200 students have graduated at five bases.
Since the solar industry is outpacing growth in the rest of the economy, DOE is helping those who served our country find a new and rewarding career in this fast-growing, dynamic field, says Clarkin.
Clarkin says that new careers in a clean energy economy are not just promising job opportunities, but also providing veterans with a pathway for continued service, training them to combat another threat to the nation, climate change.
The Solar Vets program allows transitioning service members to gain skills for “a new and vital mission,” Clarkin says, and employers in the solar industry benefit from a talent pool that is qualified, trained and committed to the core values of “mission first and team before self.” Clarkin says that this is why some of the largest solar companies in the U.S. have agreed to interview everyone who completes the Solar Ready Vets program.
“The best way to thank our veterans for their service is to help provide a pathway to meaningful employment once they transition to civilian status. Though we can never repay our veterans for the sacrifices they make to keep us safe, we can begin by connecting them with opportunities to continue to do what they do best — advance the security and prosperity of the American people through the work they do every day,” says Clarkin.
Solar Ready Vets is supported by the Department of Defense’s SkillBridge initiative, which allows exiting military personnel to pursue civilian job training, employment skills training, apprenticeships and internships up to six months prior to their separation.
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