Midwest Colleges and Employers Team Up for Solar Workforce Training

Solar installers are one of the most rapidly growing occupations in the country due to the rapid pace of solar energy installation. Nearly 90% reported difficulties hiring in 2021. They cited a lack of training or experience as the main reason. Colleges are needed to provide students with training, work experience, and other opportunities in solar energy.

The Midwest Renewable Energy Association received $800,000. In 2018, the non-profit organization worked to increase renewable energy adoption in the Midwest. They also developed programs to help grow Wisconsin’s workforce and replicate their success in other states. MREA’s Solar Ready Wisconsin initiative partners with a network of leading technical colleges in the Midwest. It develops a training curriculum, facilitates site-based training, provides entry-level work experience, and places newly-trained professionals.

MREA offers a course that helps students obtain the North American Board of Certified Energy Professionals certification. This is a highly sought-after qualification for many solar employers. This course is beneficial for those who are just starting in the workforce. Students can upload certificates and credentials. Students from community colleges reviewed the study and gave feedback to ensure it met the intended audience’s needs. MREA also created a virtual learning series, which provides NABCEP-recognized continuing educational credits.

MREA also launched sun energy. jobs, an online marketplace that connects potential solar professionals to local contractors. The combination of local training opportunities and local employers creates a strong pipeline for new solar professionals who have the right skills to excel at these jobs. This site is also a hub for regional training opportunities at MREA and participating community colleges. MREA has also added a solar career booth to its annual MREA Energy Fair to connect college partners with solar companies.

The Solar Ready Wisconsin network has grown to include 16 technical and community colleges in Wisconsin and several other colleges joining the grid next year. Up to now, the program has placed 34 interns in 160-hour internships at solar companies. Twenty-seven of these interns have gone on to work for nine partnering contractors.

MREA’s Solar Ready Wisconsin project was designed to offer renewable energy education and training that responds to changing energy issues. It empowers early-career and aspiring solar professionals and is locally accessible. They are committed to sharing their successes with similar organizations and recognizing the importance of working together for a common goal.

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